Last night’s Christmas episode of “Saturday Night Live” was bound to be an emotional affair, considering it was Cecily Strong’s final show as a cast member. But her ending was Austin Butler’s new beginning, as the “Elvis” star made his first appearance as host of the popular sketch show.
After cracking some self-deprecating jokes about the fan perception that he has permanently changed his voice to sound more like Elvis, Butler gave a shoutout to his sister in the crowd and told some stories about their childhoods.
“We grew up in Anaheim, California, hence the Southern accent,” he said. “And since we were homeschooled, sometimes my mom would say ‘we’re taking the day off, we’re going to Disneyland!’ And we were so excited, but by the ninth time she did that I was like ‘I don’t think Mom knows how to teach.’”
The actor went on to explain that him and his mother often bonded over watching “SNL” and that he credits his attempts to make her laugh with launching his acting career.
“But I love my mom,” he said. “Some of my favorite memories from growing up are watching ‘SNL’ together. We’d watch every week. And even though I had this crippling shyness, when I was with her I’d do anything to make my mom laugh,” he said. “Being silly with her is what broke me out of my shell, and it’s the core of what started me in acting.”
Butler got emotional as he reflected on what his “SNL” hosting gig would have meant to his late mother, but promised to keep her on his mind throughout the show.
“Now my mom is no longer with us, but I’ve been thinking about her a lot this week,” he said. “Just imagining how proud she would be that her son, who used to not even be able to order food for myself at a restaurant, is now standing on this stage. And tonight, just know that any time you see me doing a silly voice or making a funny face, that’s for you Mom.”
Watch Butler’s “Saturday Night Live” monologue below.