Saturday Night Live is a sketch-based comedy and music show running on NBC since 1975, running, as its name suggests, on Saturday night from 11:30 PM EST to 1:00 AM Sunday morning. Since its inception, it has turned its often irreverent wit on the holiday season.
Episodes with Christmas sketches
December 20, 1975 (hosted by Candice Bergen)
The show's very first holiday episode, aired in the first season, seemed to have a large amount of holiday skits, including Chevy Chase as President Gerald Ford stumbling about the White House while celebrating. An early Muppet skit about the character Ploobis having Christmas was also shown, as was Motown legend Martha Reeves singing 'Silver Bells'.
December 11, 1976 (hosted by Candice Bergen)
Candice Bergen, host of the previous holiday episode, returns and, during her monologue, offers up cast member John Belushi for adoption, since his wife had thrown him out. Another envelope-pushing skit offered up the idea "Let's Kill Gary Gilmore For Christmas" (Gilmore was a convicted murderer who wished to die by the firing squad, sparking immense debate). Bergen also plays the host of "Consumer Probe", chastising Dan Aykroyd's sleazy toy maker Irvin Mainway, a man with no shame as he defends hilariously dangerous toys as being perfectly safe.
December 17, 1977 (hosted by Miskel Spillman)
John Belushi plays the husband of a hospital-bed-ridden Gilda Radner, each fretting, ala The Gift Of The Magi, that they do not have the money to buy the other the gift they really want - including the money for Gilda's operation, which will still require John's kidney. Like the husband in the original story, Belushi gives all he can to help his wife; Radner, however, instead of cutting off and selling her long luxuriant hair, merely sells her brush to get him a much cheaper gift. Belushi breaks down and then begins to strangle her (in a cartoony, sitcom-esque way).
On Weekend Update, Bill Murray offers up a clueless review of Miracle On 34th Street.
December 16, 1978 (hosted by Elliott Gould)
Rovco's All-Flammable Christmas Tree is offered via a dubious commercial. "The Spirits of Christmas" promise to get guest Elliot Gould so drunk, he won't emerge till the next holiday season. In a segment parodying Christina Crawford's "Mommy Dearest", Gilda Radner plays a somewhat mentally challenged Christina against her bipolar mother Joan Crawford at a Christmas party with all her Hollywood friends.
December 22, 1979 (hosted by Ted Knight)
Comedy veteran Ted Knight hosts and plays a father/in-law who visits and takes his love of housefront decorations to nightmarish levels, including live actors re-enacting the Nativity and Adoration - it is implied, to sometimes uncomfortable results. His family cannot bear to tell him that he is simply going too far, so he continues to escalate.
Recurring characters The Nerds (Bill Murray as Todd and Gilda Radner as Lisa Loopner) make a general ruin of their school's Nativity play rehearsal. This sketch unusually has the Little Drummer Boy as part of the scene and ran afoul of NBC's Standards and Practices department, which cut some dialogue out of the broadcast. The staff defended it, saying it was the plays, and not the Nativity itself, that were being lampooned.
December 11, 1982 (hosted by Eddie Murphy)
Eddie Murphy once again does his very very unique take on the classic claymation character Gumby (who he plays as a Catskills Jewish comedian in personality) and creates a mock on the "Andy Williams" type of Christmas comedy/variety special that were becoming rarer even in that era. In "Merry Christmas, Dammit!" (One of Murphy's character catchphrases was "I am Gumby, Dammit!", a parody of the real character saying "I'm Gumby, by Gum!"), Gumby gathers a bunch of celebrities and kids over at his 'home' for a cynical special. Joe Piscopo does a turn as Frank Sinatra, who lapses from a medley of theme songs from Gumby's "cartoon pals" to a less-than-reverent jazzed-up rendition of "Silent Night". Gary Kroeger and Julia Louis-Dreyfus play Donnie and Marie Osmond, depicted as being a little too affectionate with each other as their song goes on. When Gumby reads a repulsive Christmas story about an overwrought Santa, one of the children present denounces him and is banished from the set. As the credits roll, the now-frozen child is shown looking in the window.
December 20, 1986 (hosted by William Shatner)
Guest host William Shatner introduces "The Lost Ending to It's a Wonderful Life". Doing his broad imitation of Jimmy Stewart, Dana Carvey plays George Bailey, singing and celebrating with Mary (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and their family and friends as the film's normal end approaches. The "lost" part begins when suddenly, Uncle Billy recalls what he did with the money, and recalls evidence that Mr. Potter probably has it. Enraged, George leads his friends and family in a mob. Upon seeing them breaking into his home, Potter (Jon Lovitz) tries to warn George off, but now Carvey switches his Jimmy Stewart to the more frantic ones seen in various Hitchcock films, and reveals to all that Potter doesn't even need his wheelchair. As they begin to pound Potter relentlessly on the ground, the crowd again begins to sing "Auld Lang Syne" and George again amazes at how many friends they have, just before the Republic Pictures Eagle logo comes up.
This skit is also noteworthy as being one of a few in which Dennis Miller appeared on the show in a sketch. By his own admission, he did not feel comfortable outside of Weekend Update or other formats that resembled stand-up or commentary. He played the returning Harry Bailey.