This might have a lot to do with the fact that several of his fellow "Office" alums followed him here for a pretty funny ongoing monologue gag. His real family, including wife Nancy and kids Elisabeth and John, even got in on the fun for that one.
The Thanksgiving episode was solid overall, with only a few misfires throughout the night. The love was also spread pretty evenly throughout the cast, while Carell slipped seamlessly back into his comedic foundation. He even brought some of that cringe humor that made "The Office" so squeamishly delightful.
The only suggestion we have for the show is that they need to step away from this weird perception they have that they must open the show with a political sketch. Clearly, they didn't have much to say about this week's happenings in DC, so there's no shame in just leaving it be. Michael Che and Colin Jost are going to touch on it in Weekend Update anyway, so why not just be funny, even if funny has nothing to do with politics?
As usual, we're ranking all the sketches from worst to first, including the Cold Open and the regular "Weekend Update" segments. We'll skip the musical guests, because they're not usually funny - unless Ashlee Simpson shows up. We wrap up with a look at the cast-member who had the strongest week.
Pete Davidson played the kornels on an ear of kern in this bizarre alien Thanksgiving sketch. There were some technical difficulties, the internal logic basically fell apart and it missed every opportunity to go in a funny direction. This was rightfully toward the back of the show as the comedy was half-baked at best. They spent so much money and time on those sets and costumes and props only to fall this flat.
Cold Open - "The Ingraham Angle"
The most reasoned voice in news, Laura Ingraham (Kate McKinnon) took a look at voter fraud to kick off the show. You know, that thing there is virtually no evidence for happening at the levels Trump is trying to argue. But first, she kicked off with a scathing joke about celebs whining about a little fire while Trump battles torrential rain. It's gonna be that kind of night. She was joined by Cecily Strong's Jeanine Piro, Leslie Jones' Rep. Marcia Fudge, Pete Davidson and Alex Moffat as Mark Zuckerberg, who stole the sketch with his robotic impression. "Feel Lies" was a home run, but the sketch dragged a bit overall. Jones was dying at first, but when she grabbed a mic and went for a more traditional roast of Nancy Pelosi, the bit came alive. Overall, this dragged on wa-a-a-ay too long.
This was one of those sketches that usually winds up later in the show as it started off bizarre and ended totally bonkers. The Thanksgiving song was beyond ridiculous and while we're proud the writers came up with an ending for the sketch, it's not an ending that made any sense. The whole thing was dream logic from start to finish. To be honest, we're not sure if we're laughing or just confused. Or maybe we dreamed the whole thing.
Steve's monologue turned into an audience question-and-answer session but all of the questions were about rebooting "The Office." Steve wasn't really feeling it, but everyone from Kenan Thompson to "Office" cast-members Ellie Kemper, Ed Helms and Jenna Elfman. They even cut to his wife and kids who loved the idea of him being away from home all that time while filming a television show.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become a clarion call for the left as a key voice they're rallying behind, so this rap tribute is perfectly in line. And it would have been a fine and charming continuation of the adulation heaped upon her, but the closing dialogue between Pete Davidson and Chris Redd really summed up the problem with this kind of idol worship. It has to be built on something. Clever and smart, that's the way we like our comedy!
What if your GPS could have the voice and visual style of the most over-the-top drag queens out there? That's the premise of this fake commercial featuring Steve Carell and Heidi Gardner as a couple who get all fired up when their GPS gets drag-tastic! The whole thing was short and sweet and very silly, but that's about as much as it could handle before it would start to lose its charm, so it ended just in time.
Wow, this was a brutal takedown of the conspiracy theory that Jeff Bezos opened his two new headquarters in NYC and Virginia just to mess with and overshadow Trump. Steve Carell's Bezos went all in with new announcements, each of them tearing further and further into Trump. And it was all presented so gently and with such innocence that it totally worked.
Aidy Bryant and Mikey Day visit their parents (Steve Carell and Heidi Gardner) in a tiny RV they live in and love now. Heidi was great as the mom who supported Steve's terrible idea to quit his job and downsize their lives to this mess, all squeaks and clear disdain on her face. The whole sketch hinged on her performance, and she did a great job of selling her character clearly lying and trying to put on a good face until finally she just couldn't anymore.
Michael Che and Colin Jost wasted no time laying into New Yorkers for complaining about Amazon setting up their new HQ in Queens, but don't they know? Complain is all we do anymore. If Amazon had selected another city, New Yorkers would complain about that, just like all the cities they didn't choose are whining now. In America, everything is lose-lose now. They also chimed in on the latest election updates and Trump with some sharp barbs. We're still laughing over Che's worries when he sees Trump flanked by black people. His first thought, "How much did they sell us for?"
They then invited out Mikey Day as Congressman-elect Denver Riggleman to address his connection to Bigfoot erotica -- and yes, that is real. He doubled down on his argument that his infamous Twitter post was a joke, as were the three books he'd already written and the way he wrote them, to make the sex hotter. Yeah, we were all uncomfortable when he started reading from one of his books.
"It's a great way to start the day off on the right foot, because the left foot was taken away by diabetes," Colin Jost said of Sour Patch Kids cereal ... how is this a thing? Che also revealed his drag name, and we need to see that character in a sketch right now!
Kenan Thompson's LaVar Ball never gets old, with his ridiculous optimism and enthusiasm even as the Lakers aren't off to that great of a start. This time, he talked about how he and LeBron James are best friends, despite the restraining order. They hang out together, just 500 feet apart. Clearly, Kenan has a blast playing this character and that infectious fun just pours through the screen.
A classic 1950 sleepover, complete with a Teen Angel (Steve Carell) singing to high school dropout Heidi Gardner goes all wrong when Aidy Bryant wakes up and recognizes it as her dad, missing for the past six weeks. The deconstruction of the Teen Angel character, considerably older than the teenage girls he sings for, made it creepier than ever, but Aidy and Steve were brilliant as the bickering daughter and father.
A surprise early-morning announcement goes wrong for Steve Carell when his kids (Melissa Villasenor, Aidy Bryant, Pete Davidson and Mikey Day) tell him they already know mom is leaving him; he doesn't need to cheer them up. The only problem? He didn't know this. There's a lot he didn't know, which was kind of the premise of the sketch. He's a clueless idiot, and it really worked. No one plays dim-witted as well as Steve. Everyone was so committed to the bit, and especially Steve. Short, sweet, stupid and totally funny.
During a broadcast from the International Space Station to children in school, something goes horribly wrong. So while Mikey Day and Leslie Jones keep interrupting with disturbing details of the problems, Steve Carell tries to keep things light. Let's just say there were monkeys on board, something went wrong and zero gravity can make things very awkward. The cat bit didn't work at all, but the cosmonaut segment was hilariously awful. This was awkwardly hilarious in the cringe-humor way that Carell is so good at.
This week is about as close to a tie as we can fathom between two women who really shined throughout the night, but we're going to give the slightest edge to Heidi Gardner, simply because her performance in the RV sketch carried the whole thing.
Aidy Bryant came a close second for her Teen Angel performance, and her bit-but-key role in the NASA sketch. But Heidi really had a strong night and is making a strong name for herself in her second season on the show.
With Aidy, Cecily and Kate all in their seventh and eighth seasons, the show needs its younger female cast-members to step up because those three are going to leave huge comedic shoes to fill when they decide to move on, so it's great to see Heidi finding her voice, and getting the chance to showcase how funny she can be.
"Saturday Night Live" returns December 1 with host Claire Foy and musical guest Anderson.Paak at 11:35 p.m. et on NBC.