Saturday Night Live turns 40 this year and their anniversary reunion special airs tonight on NBC! So to celebrate the godliness that is SNL, I’ve complied a list of just some of my all-time favorite characters, sketches, and performers. This list has EVERYTHING: Landsharks, celebrity hot tubs, and a middle-aged Bill Hader laughing his way through Stefon. Yeaaah, that’s the ticket!
1. James Brown Celebrity Hot Tub
“Wwwwooooooooaaawwww! Too hot for the hot tub! Just burnt myself!”
This is hilarious to me. Never does James Brown make more sense than when he (played Eddie Murphy) hosts Celebrity Hot Tub, even though he is too busy hooting and dancing to actually get in or bring out any guests. Brilliant.
2. Sarah Palin and Hillary
“I can see Russia from my house!”
Many people have probably read about how this cold open came to be in Tina Fey’s book, but it still never ceases to amaze me. Seth Myers went up about 10,000 points in my book after I found out he wrote most of the Palin’s. This cold open is so perfectly Fey/Poehler — so tight, so sharp, so close to the edge but so accessible, and just spot on. Tina/Amy 2016.
3. Lord & Lady Douchebag
“You can’t have a party without a Douchebag!”
This is another sketch from the early days of SNL and one of the first ones I saw. I was really too young to be hearing the word “douchebag”, but it didn’t matter. A bunch of rich people walking around a party unknowingly calling each other douchebags? How could you go wrong? (Plus I think there’s an Earl of Sandwich joke in the full sketch — I wish I could find the whole thing!)
4. Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood
“I hope I get to move into your neighborhood one day. The problem is when I move in, you all move away.”
I LOVE THIS. Why don’t we talk about Eddie Murphy’s SNL career more often? Every second is so sharp. One of the best pieces of satire to ever hit SNL. Period.
“Jane, you ignorant slut.”
The satirical form of Point/Counterpoint is a favorite of mine, and that famous line by Dan Akroyd sets the tone for it all. Thanks for forming my fake news sense of humor, Jane Curtin, and for saying everything as dry as humanly possible.
6. Bronx Beat
“Whaddya, Sioux? You got Sioux in you? You Chippewa?”
All hail Maya and Amy. All hail Jody, the hair and makeup lady who inspired Bronx Beat. All hail Bronx Beat.
7. Brian Fellow’s Safari Planet
“Don’t listen to anything that big mouth bird told you!”
We all know Tracy Morgan hit his stride with 30 Rock, but this is a close second. He’s a sassy, Oprah-like animal expert who gets mad at birds and seems to wear lip gloss. I feel like watching this sketch prepared me for meeting people at theatre school parties.
8. Barry Gibb Talk Show
“Talkin’ ’bout chest hair/And crazy gold medallions.”
This really might be my favorite SNL sketch of all time. I remember watching this episode live and being enamored with anything Justin Timberlake did (“Bring it on down to Omletteville”, anyone?). And then in the second act of the show they come up with this– goofy, clever, smart, and hysterically funny. This is one of those sketches that makes me wish I could have been in the offices when they came up with it. A+
9. Girl You Wish You Never Started A Conversation With At a Party
“I just really need to go to Croatia.”
Cecily Strong, you rad lady. Nothing is better than when she can’t say “posers” and then asks if she can use the N-word. So absurd. So true. I want to write for this character all day every day.
10. Tina Fey/Jimmy Fallon Weekend Update
They’re perfect together. Sorry, Seth and Amy. #flerm
11. David Spade’s Receptionist
“And you are?”
My mother never liked that I liked David Spade. I think she thought he was mean and maybe a little creepy, especially during his goatee years, but I didn’t care at all. From Tommy Boy to The Emperor’s New Groove, the dude is snarky and hilarious and keeps me laughing all the way to the bank. This character is one of my favorites. In future sketches, he won’t even let Jesus into the office (because who wouldn’t let in Jesus?). Timely, irreverent, and brilliantly sarcastic. Classic Spade.
12. Dick In A Box
“That’s the way you do it!”
My dad never thinks post-1980s SNL is very funny. So when we were watching TV one Saturday night and Dick in a Box came on, I didn’t know what to think. That was mainly because I was 14 and watching two guys talk about giving their downtowns to their ladies for Christmas with my dad. But also because my dad was laughing. Really hard. Plus this was before all the digital shorts were about laser cats. (Honorable Digital Short Mention: “I Just Had Sex” featuring Akon.)
13. Maya Rudolph Doing the National Anthem
Never has SNL been so hilarious and so scarily accurate. Can Maya sing for the next World Series? Maybe then I would watch the sports.
15. Chevy’s Girls
“Every time you take that fall, I wish that you were fallin’ for me.”
Girl group + SNL original women + making fun of Chevy Chase = Priceless. Plus a great precursor to my other SNL girl group fave “Santa’s My Boyfriend“.
16. Jaws II
“Landshark.” Last but certainly not least, a classic. I could have picked a million sketches from the original cast members since so many of them were wonderful (Gilda Radner and Bill Murray as goofy, lovable nerds? Come on!). But I love this sketch because it was the first one I ever watched. So simple, so weird, so great. Long live Saturday Night Live.
We all know there’s something special about the combination of Dave Matthews, Jason Mraz, and our host Jack Johnson chatting about tunes, foot-fives, and anything mellow. Cameo by the real Dave!!!! “Hacky Sack!”
Do you have a favorite sketch I didn’t feature this time around? Comment below and share a clip!
PARTY ON, WAYNE!