It was an “old home week” to remember on Saturday Night Live, as former cast members Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph joined host Kate McKinnon for a side-splitting spoof of the iconic Swedish pop group, ABBA. The sketch, disguised as a late-night infomercial, sent up everything from the band’s signature sequin-spangled costumes to their penchant for synchronized choreography (with a healthy dose of goofball charm thrown in).
James Austin Johnson took center stage as the over-enthusiastic presenter, hawking ABBA’s “newly unearthed” 1978 Christmas album, “ABBA Jul,” “coming to you, like a reindeer flying through the sky, for the first time ever!” With promises of “15 brand new Christmas classics and 85 holiday remakes of their existing songs,” the excitement soared higher than Agnetha Fältskog’s high notes.
McKinnon, resplendent in a mirror-covered red dress and matching fishnet stockings, embodied Anni-Frid Lyngstad with a playful wink and a perfectly executed Swedish chef accent. Wiig, clad in a green leopard-skinned jumpsuit, channeled Agnetha’s ethereal coolness with a touch of deadpan humor. Rudolph, in a superhero-esque get-up complete with a feather boa and sparkly gloves, nailed Björn Ulvaeus’ flamboyant stage presence with gusto. Completing the quartet was cast member Bowen Yang, looking every bit the disco-era Björn Andersson in a Barry Gibb-meets-musketeer ensemble.
The comedic gems flew fast and furious as the infomercial unfolded. Songs like “Santa Queen” (a glittery reimagining of “Dancing Queen”) and “Who’s That Baby?” (a cheeky spin on “Take a Chance on Me”) had the audience in stitches. But the pièce de résistance was undoubtedly “Frostitita,” a “wintry take” on “Chiquitita” featuring Rudolph belting out lyrics about a depressed snowwoman with remarkable gusto.
Of course, no ABBA parody would be complete without their signature synchronized dance moves. And while the SNL ensemble nailed the iconic formation of standing close, facing different directions, it was the subtle breakdowns in synchronization that truly stole the show. Wiig and McKinnon, in particular, seemed to struggle to contain their laughter as they pressed their faces together, their smiles threatening to shatter the facade of pop star poise.
But beyond the silliness, there was a genuine love and appreciation for ABBA woven throughout the sketch. The costumes, meticulously recreated and dripping with 70s glam, were a visual feast. The vocal performances, while exaggerated for comedic effect, still showcased the talent and musicality of the original band. And even the most ridiculous lyrics (“Shake a tambourine because you’re seventeen!” sung to baby Jesus in “Away in a Manger”) had a sense of playful reverence for ABBA’s unique brand of pop perfection.
Ultimately, “SNL’s” ABBA spoof was more than just a bit. It was a joyous celebration of a band whose music has brought joy to millions for generations. It was a reminder that laughter and a little bit of absurdity can go a long way, even during the holiday season. And it was a testament to the comedic brilliance of Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, and Maya Rudolph, who proved that even in their post-SNL days, they can still light up the stage with their infectious humor and boundless talent.
So, grab your platform shoes, put on your brightest sequined jacket, and crank up the Mamma Mia soundtrack. Because thanks to Saturday Night Live, ABBA fever is alive and well.