"Saturday Night Live" jump-started its first episode of 2015 with a lighting bolt: Kevin Hart.
In his hosting return to the Studio 8H stage, the irrepressible comedian lamented his new suburban house's raccoon infestation.
"Bottom line, we got a thug raccoon running around outside!" the star of the "The Wedding Ringer" shouted during his breathless opening monologue. "My son goes outside, and the first thing he said was, 'Dad, I'm scared. Can you come with me?' I said, 'Absolutely not. This is your journey. This is about you becoming a man.'"
In a video short, a trio of corner guys (Hart, Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah) from the rough-but-gentrifying Brooklyn area of Bushwick discussed their neighborhood's new trends, like eight-dollar artisanal mayonnaise, dog-walking businesses, and hipstery art-and-wine parties.
"The last party was off the chain, yo," Pharoah's character said. "We was drinkin' wine, paintin' landscapes... I sent you an Evite and everything but you didn't respond."
"Psh, this dude's sending Evites like it's 2003 or something," his friends laughed. "You actin' like someone put gluten in your muffin."
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Kate McKinnon broke out her spot-on Justin Bieber impression in a sendup of the heartthrob's new Calvin Klein underwear ad campaign alongside Cecily Strong.
"This tattoo made me say 'owie,'" a smirking Bieber said between drum solos.
In the cold open sketch, a student (Pete Davidson) gave a crash course on modern race relations to the ghost of Martin Luther King Jr. (Thompson).
"You had a huge influence on this country," Davidson's character said. "There's a big movie that came out this week about you. It's called 'Selma.' And it looks great."
"I guess that one will be nominated for a lot of Oscars, right?" King asked earnestly. (It earned zero.)
In another skit, Hart headed backstage from a comedy show to find a former lover (Leslie Jones), who introduced him to his long-lost son Marcus (Pharaoh). The men resisted the notion at first — "He looks like a teddy graham!" Marcus said — but eventually realized their connection after Marcus perfectly replicated Hart's distinctive hand gestures.
"Weekend Update" hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che took square aim at politicians Mitt Romney and Chris Christie.
"Mitt Romney is reportedly considering running for president in 2016," Jost said. "In a related story, Charlie Brown is finally planning on kicking that football."
Joining them at the desk was Mrs. Frieda Santini (Kate McKinnon), a woman from Jost's building who deals with annoying neighbors by penning unusually passive-aggressive notes.
"Dear elephant family in apartment 6-H," she read. "I am so sorry you is elephants, and every step you take ruin my life."
Australian singer-songwriter Sia, wearing her cropped black veil, performed "Elastic Heart" and "Chandelier."
"SNL" returns Jan. 24 with dual-threat musical guest host Blake Shelton.