The 35 Best SNL Skits

Saturday Night Live has been a hallmark of American sketch comedy for over 40 years. In honor of the show, here are the 35 best SNL skits that have ever aired.

Image via NBC

Saturday Night Live has been a hallmark of American sketch comedy for over 40 years. It’s no exaggeration to say that the show jump-started the careers of the country’s favorite comedians, from Eddie Murphy to Tina Fey, Bill Murray to Jimmy Fallon. SNL has a way of attracting the best minds in comedy and propelling them from the show’s set and into their own storied film, television, or late night talk shows careers.

Remarkably, SNL’s format has remained the same for nearly the entirety of the show’s decades-long run (it’s also one of the longest-running network television program of all time). The show starts cold, with a sketch that always ends in that iconic, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!” A celebrity guest hosts and kicks off the show by delivering a comedic monologue at the top of the hour, but the meat of SNL consists of a number of sketches, most of which are live and star the regular cast plus the celebrity host. The show is also punctuated by performances from that week’s musical guest.

That stable structure is the only stable thing about the show, though. The sketches can be hit or miss—you can’t expect a group of comedians to get it right every week. But SNL is not just one of the best comedy sketch shows. It’s a seminal part of American life and culture. As a weekly show, it needs, by definition, to stay very in tune with pop culture and politics in order to stay relevant. As a result, SNL tends to provide a sharper perspective on the country’s most pressing issues—whether that’s Trump or race issues or sexual harassment in the workplace—by satirizing the hell out of it.

In honor of the show, here is a list of the 35 best SNL skits that have ever aired. From fake commercials to digital shorts to impressions, game shows, musical parodies, political satires, and celeb appearances, something in this list is bound to crack you up.

35. World's Most Evil Invention

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Starring: Kyle Mooney, Beck Bennett, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Sasheer Zamata

Aired: May 20, 2017

The premise of an annual Most Evil Invention in the World contest held by the Mad Scientist Society is, on its face, a pretty classic sketch comedy set-up. It’s brimming with the possibility of over-the-top performances and silly one-liners, but this particular sketch is elevated by the addition of The Rock, who plays a truly evil scientist who believes he has invented the most evil invention of all time… and, to be honest, he has. If I tell you what it is, the sketch will be ruined, but suffice it to say that he takes the definition of “evil” very literally. The already out-there sketch is made even funnier by the matter-of-fact way The Rock plays the scientist.

34. Black Jeopardy (ft. Tom Hanks)

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Starring: Kenan Thompson, Sasheer Zamata, Leslie Jones, Tom Hanks

Aired: Oct. 23, 2016

In this sketch, SNL flips its well-established “Black Jeopardy” premise on its head while also making one of the most nuanced and constructive political arguments. Tom Hanks plays a “Make America Great Again” white guy who somehow found himself on an episode of "Black Jeopardy." As he slowly answers more and more questions correctly, the three other black people in the sketch warm up to him more and more (and vice versa). It’s a statement on how much Americans really have in common, and it’s a powerful one because it doesn’t shy away from the obvious difference: race. The final question is a master class in demonstrating that there are some issues that dwarf all others if we don’t see eye to eye on them.

33. Haunted Elevator

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Starring: Kenan Thompson, Tom Hanks, Kate McKinnon, Beck Bennett

Aired: Oct. 23, 2016

Who is David S. Pumpkins? Why does he have a middle initial? Look, no one really knows, but this sketch was probably the most beloved—and most viral—non-political sketch from SNL’s 2016 season. Perfectly timed just days before Halloween, Hanks is pitch-perfect in one of SNL’s zanier, impossible-to-explain moments. He’s like America’s dad, in a pumpkin suit, with a weird frizzy wig and strange animatronic dance moves.

32. Actress Round Table (ft. Margot Robbie)

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Starring: Cecily Strong, Margot Robbie, Sasheer Zamata, Kate McKinnon

Aired: Oct. 2, 2016

This sketch predates the “Weinstein Era” one year almost to the day, but it injects a healthy dose of humor into many of the real issues that women now have more space to talk about: how they are treated in male-dominated industries, pay gaps, the lack of roles for women. The star of the show is Kate McKinnon, who plays Debette Goldry and serves as a relic of Old Hollywood. Not even Margot Robbie could keep it together while watching McKinnon expertly slur through her punchlines.

31. Papyrus

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Starring: Ryan Gosling, Cecily Strong

Aired: Sept. 30, 2017

SNL and Ryan Gosling managed to find the funniest thing about the impending release of three more Avatar sequels that absolutely no one on this good green Earth asked for. Besides the fact that it stole the plot of Pocahontas, the blue people movie used a truly terrible font for its logo: Papyrus. Gosling is tormented by that “tribal yet futuristic” look, and in this sketch we see him grow more and more obsessed with the bad graphic design as it slowly takes over his life. It’s the pinnacle of niche comedy, and Gosling portrays his dramatic descent into madness so perfectly that I would probably watch a two-hour feature length version of this, no shame.


30. Welcome To Hell

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Starring: Aidy Bryant, Saoirse Ronan, Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon

Aired: Dec. 2, 2017

You have to try really hard—and have a whole lot of tact—in order to joke about the ongoing wave of sexual harassment accusations against powerful men in Hollywood. But SNL figured out that if you put a Katy Perry “California Gurls” spin on it, the whole situation can be fun and flirty. Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon, and guest Saoirse Ronan star as a bubbly girl group who sing about what women have known all along: we’re all in hell, so pull up a chair! The music video is smart enough to cover some of the societal issues women have to deal with as a matter of course, as well as commonly brought up retorts, like, “Why didn’t you say something sooner?” The sketch also brings up the fact that harassment is even worse for women of color. It's catchy as hell and pure genius.

29. Gift Wrap

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Starring: Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, James Franco

Aired: Dec. 9, 2017

Some SNL sketches are memorable not for their material, but for when something goes wrong, like a cast member or guest breaking character or swearing accidentally. In “Gift Wrap,” James Franco’s blissfully unaware cashier is over the top, and his nihilism might actually be the most realistic performance of holiday retail workers of all time. But the sketch’s staying power is all thanks to Leslie Jones’s performance. "You f*cking traumatized me," she said afterward. "Blood went in my mouth and then I threw up in my mouth and I had to swallow it so I wouldn't throw up on national f*cking live TV."


28. Dinner Discussion

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Starring: Heidi Gardner, Will Ferrell, Beck Bennett, Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Kenan Thompson

Aired: Jan. 27, 2018

This sketch nails how uncomfortable we as a society are when faced with any kind of nuance. The recent outpouring of sexual assault allegations against people in positions of power and the #MeToo movement that came with it is nothing if not nuanced. The different stories that have come out deal with a range of delicate issues and complicated grey areas. It’s not easy to talk about these issues, and even less so when we bring in different perspectives or issues (like race) into it, but this well-timed SNL sketch manages to explore that treacherous space while also providing some well-earned chuckles.


27. Natalie's Rap 2

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Starring: Natalie Portman, Beck Bennett, Andy Samberg

Aired: Feb. 3, 2018

Every once in awhile, SNL manages to get its celebrity host to showcase a talent no one knew they had; the best and most time-honored example of this is Natalie Portman’s 2006 rap. 12 years later, Portman returns to SNL, this time with a modern new flow and “current references,” but the same filthy mouth and bad girl attitude. It’s a great example of how to spot a classic performer: ask someone to do the same thing 12 years later and see if they’ve still got it. Spoiler alert: she does. (Also, apparently, Jar Jar Binks has 17 dicks. Just let that sink in.)


26. Tournament Fighter

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Starring: Kenan Thompson, Tiffany Haddish

Aired: Nov. 11, 2017

Tiffany Haddish’s historic appearance as the first-ever black female comedian to host SNL culminated in this sketch, in which Kenan Thompson plays a video game player who unwittingly chooses Haddish’s “Boo Boo Jeffries” character in a competition. Her signature moves include the Rihanna and the Beyoncé, and her weakness is fighting, which makes for a hilariously human Mortal Kombat-type video game character. 


25. Neurotology

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Starring: Margot Robbie, Kenan Thompson, Mikey Day

Aired: Oct. 1, 2016

SNL knew exactly how they would incorporate Margot Robbie into their sketches that week: all of her contributions were stellar, but this one in particular is especially good. When Kenan Thompson interviews Robbie and Mikey Day, who plays her bland, pasty, very vanilla husband, for a live broadcast on a sinkhole, the entire news channel is offended that the two are actually a couple. I mean, the dude wears socks with Crocs and he’s married to “the Lord’s mistress.” This skit is also a prime example of how much it pays off when SNL gets creative about getting around NBC’s strict profanity rules.

24. I'm On A Boat

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Starring: Andy Samberg, T-Pain, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone

Aired: Feb. 7, 2009

Who'd have thought we'd ever see an SNL bit go platinum? The flippy-floppy-sporting Andy Samberg and his boy T-Pain's nautical anthem not only became the most-watched video on YouTube the month it aired—it topped the iTunes charts and scored a Grammy nod for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. While the Lonely Islanders unfortunately didn't leave with the award that year, their fresh vid about a trio of dudes just psyched to win a free boat ride will go down in history as one of the series' very best.


23. Celebrity Jeopardy

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Starring: Norm MacDonald, Will Ferrell, Jimmy Fallon, Darrell Hammond

Aired: Jan. 23, 1999

If you were to add up all of the scores from the contestants on "Celebrity Jeopardy," you'd be lucky to break zero. With categories like "Colors That End in 'Urple" and "Your Ass or a Hole in the Ground," it's amazing how far cast members went in depicting celebrity stupidity. Of course, no one really cared about how smart (or dumb) those participating in this sketch were.

In the end, it was all about one thing and one thing only: Alex Trebek (Will Ferrell) vs. Sean Connery (Darrell Hammond). No matter how much he tried to ignore Connery's constant barrage of jokes about his mother, Alex Trebek could never win. If only real Jeopardy were this entertaining.

22. Farewell, Mr. Bunting

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Starring: Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney, Jay Pharoah, Jon Rudnitsky, Pete Davidson

Aired: May 21, 2016

Dead Poet’s Society is a Robin Williams movie about the beauty of poetry and the importance of good teachers. Farewell, Mr. Bunting is a Dead Poet’s Society copycat until, well, it isn’t. It’s best you don’t know what the twist is, because this is a skit that rests entirely on shock factor. Fred Armisen’s deadpan style is absolutely spot-on in this skit, adding that extra layer of ridiculousness.

21. Meet Your Second Wife

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Starring: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Bobby Moynihan, Taran Killam, Kenan Thompson

Aired: Dec. 19, 2015

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are comedic powerhouses on their own, but when they get together, like they did on this Christmas episode to host SNL together, is when real comedy magic happens. In this brutally honesty and sardonic sketch, Fey and Poehler have perfect delivery (Case in point: “I thought this was a home improvement show,” says one of the current wives. “In a way, it is,” Fey answers.) It’s one of those timeless sketches that showcase everything SNL is great at doing.


20. Katie Couric Interviews Sarah Palin

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Starring:: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler

Aired: Sept. 27, 2008

During the 2008 presidential campaign, a little-known Governor from the state of Alaska was chosen as John McCain's running mate. She had all the makings of a perfect spotlight Republican: winning smile, big family, anti-tax personality. However, after two weeks on the campaign trail, people began to realize that she was (and still is) batshit crazy.

At that point, the question was no longer, Could this woman become vice president? It was, Will Tina Fey impersonate her on SNL? (After all, the physical similarities between herself and Palin were uncanny). Fey had moved on to bigger and better things on 30 Rock when Palin was thrust into the media spotlight, but Tina happily returned to play the "aw shucks" All-American Alaskan Governor. When she showed up alongside Amy Poehler's Hillary Clinton in September 2008, the applause from the SNL audience was thunderous. However Tina's most brilliant performance as Palin would come two weeks later when she spoofed the infamous Katie Couric interview.

19. A Thanksgiving Miracle

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Starring: Beck Bennett, Jay Pharoah, Cecily Strong, Aidy Bryant, Matthew McConaughey, Kate McKinnon, Vanessa Bayer

Aired: Nov. 21, 2016

Remember when Adele released her third album, 25, back in 2015? Remember how her velvety voice was all you could hear within a five mile radius of any mom’s car or major department store? This SNL skit picks up on the universality of that album, and its lead single “Hello” in particular. Even if you still get PTS flashbacks at just the mention of the song, watch this skit for Jay Pharaoh and Matthew McConaughey in false lashes, long, painted nails, a blonde wig, and a faux fur coat.

18. Dick in a Box

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Starring: Justin Timberlake, Andy Samberg

Aired: Dec. 16, 2006

While Pharrell Williams' willingness to take Justin Timberlake under his wing lead to the 2002 image resurrection and musical comeback of the century, it was the former 'NSyncer's guest hosting spot on SNL that made just about the entire country bow down to the guy's undeniable flair for comedy. Paying homage to corny R&B videos of the past, the star's digital short with Andy Samberg features two chin-strapped crooners expressing exactly how they'd like to show their ladies the holiday love—by presenting them with the ultimate Christmas package (literally): A dick in a box.

Dudes can hate on Justin all they want, but the numbers don't lie. The edgy video tested the series' limits and the payoff was huge: It became one of the biggest viral sensations on the Internet, raking in millions and millions of views on YouTube—and that's only the official vid. In addition to inspiring countless T-shirts, Halloween costumes, and, presumably, sexual harassment suits, the X-rated Christmas carol was honored with an Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics, giving it further bragger's rights of being the first (and likely only) honoree to force a presenter to utter the word “dick” at the otherwise classy ceremony. For all the fellas out there with ladies to impress, it's easy to do; just follow these steps.

17. Live Report

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Starring: Margot Robbie, Kenan Thompson, Mikey Day

Aired: Oct. 1, 2016

SNL knew exactly how they would incorporate Margot Robbie into their sketches that week: all of her contributions were stellar, but this one in particular is especially good. When Kenan Thompson interviews Robbie and Mikey Day, who plays her bland, pasty, very vanilla husband, for a live broadcast on a sinkhole, the entire news channel is offended that the two are actually a couple. I mean, the dude wears socks with Crocs and he’s married to “the Lord’s mistress.” This skit is also a prime example of how much it pays off when SNL gets creative about getting around NBC’s strict profanity rules.

16. Dysfunctional Family Dinner

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Starring: Will Ferrell, Ana Gasteyer, Sarah Michelle Gellar. 17, 1998

Aired: Jan. 17, 1998

Here's how you know this is a legendary sketch. Go walk outside (but leave your browser open, please), walk up to the first person you see and yell, "I OWN A DODGE STRATUS!" That person will then begin laughing uncontrollably because your pop culture references are so off the chain.

One thing Will Ferrell does so well—and it's something he doesn't really tap into anymore—is play a man hanging onto the last shred of his masculinity, full of simmering insecurity and out-of-control anger. And what elevates this skit is not when Ferrell freaks out, but those boiling moments when you know the freakout is coming. Just hearing those utensils scratch against the dinner plates makes me giddy with anticipation.

15. The Chanukah Song

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Starring: Adam Sandler

Aired: Dec. 3, 1994

“The Chanukah Song” is one of those bits that you forget actually came from SNL. After Adam Sandler debuted it on "Weekend Update" in 1994 (back when he was still funny), Jews everywhere were singing it at the top of their lungs, especially during holiday season. While all the other kids were joining in on Christmas carols, the Jewish children were now singing a cool song that they could finally call their own (eat your heart out, "Jingle Bell Rock").

Now every winter, Jews huddle around the Chanukah Bush to eat chocolate, spin dreidels, and sing "The Chanukah Song" (at least, we hope they do). Sandler went on to record two more versions of the track (titled “Chanukah Song Part II” and “Chanukah Song Part III,” respectively), but the original is still by far the best—mainly for that line about O.J. Simpson, who, apparently is not a Jew.

14. Lincoln

Starring: Louis C.K., Kenan Thompson, Aidy Bryant

Aired: Nov. 3, 2012

Imagining Abraham Lincoln as Louis C.K.—what could be better than that? This gem from C.K.'s first hosting gig infused his—and his show's—interpersonal awkwardness and sharp, reality-based wit into the 16th president, and the results were all onions. First you've got Lincoln expecting black people to thank him after signing the Emancipation Proclamation: "I just wanna thank President Lincoln here for everything he's done for me," Kenan Thompson says as a newly freed slave. "Especially my new job of shoveling HORSE SHIT. INTO A WAGON."

As if that wasn't great enough, then you've got Lincoln C.K. doing a set at the Comedy Cellar, riffing on having to keep a straight face while negotiating with slaveowners, his impending assassination, and his "literally, historically crazy" wife. C.K. just does an amazing job of maintaining his style and persona while sporting a beard and a tophat. Mashing eras together usually doesn't work, but this is somehow a match made in heaven.

13. Lazy Sunday

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Starring: Andy Samberg, Chris Parnell

Aired: Dec. 17, 2005

Who'd have ever guessed that there was a crew out there with the ability to make us view The Chronicles of Narnia in a gully new light? Well, maybe not, but thanks to this sketch, we'll probably forever associate C.S. Lewis' acclaimed series with herb. Not that that's a bad thing.

In a digital short that would officially mark the beginning of rap comedy troupe The Lonely Island's reign, we witness Andy Samberg and partner in crime Chris Parnell rhyming about their afternoon plans to catch a matinee showing of The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe—but not before stopping over at Magnolia to mack on some cupcakes. The castmates were as hardcore as two white guys sounding off about Google Maps could be.

If you managed to catch the twosome coordinating their distinctly un-hood Sunday itinerary the night it first aired, you probably realized two things almost immediately: First, that Andy Samberg (the new kid on the block at the time) was inevitably destined for greatness. And secondly, for better or worse, this could very well mark the start of a whole new era of white rappers.

12. The Delicious Dish with Pete Schweddy

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Starring: Alec Baldwin, Ana Gasteyer, Molly Shannon

Aired: Dec. 12, 1998

This skit is so popular that it inspired a new Ben & Jerry's flavor (vanilla with a hint of rum and fudge-covered rum and milk chocolate balls). The premise is this: A man named Pete Schweddy, played by Alec Baldwin, runs a bakery called Season's Eatings. He appears on NPR's Delicious Dish to share his recipe for his world-famous Schweddy Balls—yep, you can see where this one is going—and before long, both hosts are gobbling Pete's delicious balls, telling him how tender they are and how good they smell.

We're still trying to figure out how all three of them got through this skit without laughing once. Those balls must put you into a real food coma.

11. Space, the Infinite Frontier with Harry Caray

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Starring: Will Ferrell, Jeff Goldblum
Aired: May 17, 1997

Don't ask why Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray would be doing a talk show about outer space. Don't even ask why SNL would expect an entire nation to know about the funny idiosyncrasies of a local sports guy. Just enjoy it.

Every line Will Ferrell says as Caray in this skit is hilarious and quotable ("That's why my friends call me Whiskers" is iconic), his mannerisms are on-point, and having Jeff Goldblum to play the straight man doesn't hurt either. It says a lot that this sketch catapulted Ferrell's impression all the way to the 1998 ESPYs, and that when Steve Bartman fucked the Cubs in 2003, Will Ferrell was one of the first person called on for an opinion.

10. Mister Robinson's Neighborhood

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Starring: Eddie Murphy
Aired: Oct. 17, 1981

Could you be, would you be Mister Robinson's neighbor? Yeah, probably not. Eddie Murphy's grimy version of Mr. Rogers seems like the kind of dude who'd steal your TV and keep you up all night watching Robin Byrd. But that's what made him great. (Come to think of it, that's exactly how we'd like to imagine the real Mr. Rogers was once the cameras stopped rolling.)

In typical Fred Rogers fashion, the cardigan-clad Murphy would open the door, change his shoes, and greet the boys and girls at home. However, rather than teaching them wholesome lessons about sharing and friendship, Mr. Robinson would school them on much more pertinent matters, like how to answer a door in the hood or the importance of a pair of disco shoes, and, of course, he'd also expand their vocabulary with key new phrases like “bitch,” “scum bucket,” and more. Thanks to this classic episode, we officially consider ourselves well-versed in dealing with both eviction notices and trifling wives.

9. Chippendales

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Starring: Patrick Swayze, Chris Farley, Jan Hooks, Victoria Jackson, Marcy Mike Myers, Kevin Nealon

Aired: Oct. 27, 1990

Chris Farley and Patrick Swayze competing at a Chippendales audition? That's comedy gold right there. And surprisingly, the big man sorta keeps up with his "Dirty Dancing" competitor. I mean, Chris actually does the worm at one point. The worm! That move isn't easy when you are under 200 pounds, let alone pushing 300. It's all pretty impressive if you ask us.

As for the rest of the competition, Farley's butt crack protruding from the top of his tights is no match for Swayze's rock-hard abs and good looks, but that doesn't really matter in this case. After all, this sketch was about bringing two geniuses together in one setting and settling their differences the only way they knew how: a half-naked dance off while three Chippendales judges looked on in astonishment.

8. James Brown's Celebrity Hot Tub Party

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Starring: Eddie Murphy

Aired: Nov. 5, 1983

Sometimes a video just makes us wanna break out in a COL' SWEAT! We can't be sure if it's the wild dancing, the wig and gold Speedo combo, or the pitch-perfect screeches as the Godfather of Soul sticks a toe in the water, that make Eddie Murphy's depiction of James Brown's fictional hot tub talk show one of the most laugh-out-loud-funny sketches of all time, but, really, it's undeniable.

If you think about it, the 1983 skit was pretty experimental for its time. There's no rhyme or reason here—just one ongoing joke that involves the funk and soul legend getting down with his bad self in front of a bubbling hot tub. While there are numerous SNL classics that would likely deliver the same laughs were you to swap in a different cast member for the lead, this is a definitive sketch that Eddie, and Eddie alone, could pull off. We only wish we could've sat in on that brainstorming session.

7. Dear Sister

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Starring: Andy Samberg, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Shia LaBeouf

April 14, 2007

Two years after Marissa shot Ryan’s older brother Trey on the season 2 finale of The O.C. (#NeverForget) to the sound of Imogen Heap’s dreamy, atmospheric “Hide and Seek,” Andy Samberg and friends created one of the simplest, and yet funniest, SNL sketches of all time. It’s a parody of that O.C. scene, with the song’s iconic, melodramatic chorus effectively becoming the punchline. If you still haven’t seen this one, it’s best you be surprised by it. So suffice it to say this is a sketch with little dialogue, but with all the dramatic, hard-to-explain silliness you’d expect from Andy Samberg, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, and the show’s host for the week, Shia LaBeouf.

6. Racists for Trump

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Starring: Taran Killam, Vanessa Bayer, Bobby Moynihan, Aidy Bryant, Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney

Aired: March 5, 2016

This faux campaign ad demonstrates everything that can be gained from SNL’s pre-taped skits. Racists for Trump looks as glossy as any legitimate presidential campaign ad; the music adds a nice touch, and the power of those subtle editing tweaks—like when Taran Killam raises his arm to show a swastika armband—are genius. It’s downright eerie just how correct the message of this “ad” was especially from watching it post-Charlottesville. But the genius sarcastic tone of this ad is enough to lift your spirits, even if only for a little bit.


5. Wayne's World

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Starring: Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Tom Hanks, Aerosmith
Aired: Feb. 17, 1990

Schwing! Just take a moment to meditate on how many times the two hard-rocking Aurora, Ill. residents have saved your ass on Halloween when you procrastinated 'til the last moment on costume decisions. Even the most jacked up Waynes and Garths are still a hit at the party, and that's because they're a hit in real life—even now, 22 years after the characters first appeared.

Unlike other celebrated SNL sketches that took a nose dive once they hit the big screen, the Wayne's World movies are classics to this day: They had characters strong enough to carry them and quotes hysterical enough to keep fans echoing them decades after the 1992 premiere. Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar became megastars in their own right, but they first made a name for themselves on the show, hosting their infamous public access program from the basement of Wayne's parents' house.

In one of the most memorable episodes, the twosome's rock idols, Aerosmith, swing by to hang out. If that wasn't cool enough, Tom Hanks is also there—out of character as he's ever been—as the crew's roadie. And if that wasn't cool enough, Dana Carvey even jumps on the drums and starts banging out the "Wayne's World" theme song along with the group. Still skeptical? To that we say, "Aspinchtersayswhat?"

4. Stefon on Halloween

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Starring: Bill Hader, Seth Meyers

Aired: Oct. 23, 2010

Stefon is the most iconic character to come out of Saturday Night Live in the 21st century, and this specific appearance on "Weekend Update" is when he was at the peak of his powers. Every recurring SNL skit—even the classic ones—dies out the more it's rolled out. Just ask Kristen Wiig and every character she's ever done. This iteration of Stefon (there were 18 total) came early in his run though, when loyal viewers were just starting to beg for his appearances and the world of pop culture was just beginning to understand his stick. After this moment, Stefon became a phenomenon.

I can't say exactly what it is—the homeless robocops, Bark Ruffalo, Little Israel, or the fact that Bill Hader absolutely loses it when he mentions Sidney Applebaum, the Jewish Dracula. We all know Hader's thing is breaking character as Stefon—caused because SNL writer John Mulaney would change the jokes right before air—but this was on another level. The guy is actually crying. That's pure joy right there, and that's why Bill Hader has to be considered a Top 5 SNL cast member.

3. Behind the Music: Blue Oyster Cult

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Starring: Will Ferrell, Christopher Walken, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Kattan, Chris Parnell, Horatio Sanz

Aired: April 8, 2000

There's a reason Googlers will find that merely typing in the word “more” almost immediately calls up “cowbell” among a handful of more normal-seeming suggested search terms: It's straight up one of the funniest Saturday Night Live sketches of all time—some will undeniably argue the funniest. Despite the fact that Christopher Walken wasn't even an actual cast member, priceless cameos in sketches like these managed to nab him an entire “Best Of” DVD devoted to his SNL appearances. (There are full-time cast members that don't even get those!)

In this spoof of VH1's Behind the Music, we witness Blue Öyster Cult's fictionalized recording of their future hit “(Don't Fear) The Reaper.” While Jimmy Fallon, Chris Kattan, Chris Parnell, and Horatio Sanz do a great job at mimicking the legendary bandmates, it's Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken who steal the show here, taking the sketch to ridiculous new heights between Ferrell's portrayal of fictional cowbell player Gene Frenkel and Walken's performance as The Bruce Dickinson, a legendary superproducer with whom the band is honored to collaborate.

As the guys begin to play, Dickinson's encouragement of Frenkel to “really explore the space” results in Ferrell dancing feverishly around the studio, crashing into the other band members as his tiny shirt rides up, his cowbell overwhelming the entire track (not to mention the pissed-looking lead singer). It's hard not to lose it after that, as the sketch's other players can attest—between Ferrell's over-the-top performance and Walken's deadpan acting (particularly while unleashing golden one-liners like, “I got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell!), you can tell the cast are fighting hard to keep straight faces.

2. Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker

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Starring: Christina Applegate, Chris Farley, Phil Hartman, David Spade, Julia Sweeney

Aired: May 8, 1993

The skits where cast members can barely keep it together don't always turn out to be the best, but the first "Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker" bit with Chris Farley is so hilarious that we'd be upset if his fellow actors weren't losing their shit. David Spade and Christina Applegate are laughing pretty much the entire time as Farley chides them for everything they've ever done, and that if they continue down their current path, they are going to end up living in a van down by the river.

Farley is on screen for all of 10 seconds before Spade and Applegate start to laugh (Frankly, we can't blame them. There's no way we would be able to keep it together either). Then, a few minutes later, one of the best moments in SNL history occurs: Farley trips and falls right through the coffee table. Apparently, it all happened by accident. In fact, you can tell that the moment surprised even Farley, who breaks character for about a half second and begins to crack up. However, he then goes right back into his motivational speaker routine, as the rest of the cast looks on in total astonishment. Man, we miss Chris Farley.

1. Buh-Weet Sings

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Starring: Eddie Murphy

Aired: Oct. 10, 1981

While movie star Eddie might not show his full range of comic chops in flicks like Norbit and Imagine That, it's hard to argue that any cast member's SNL material has withstood the test of time like Eddie Murphy's has. Even the sketches of some of the show's greatest former power players, considered the most talented comedians of their time, aren't always immune to losing their hilarity as our nation's perception of what's funny evolves over the years. Stuff that killed your pops in the '70s might leave you stone-faced, just as boundary-pushing classics like “Dick in a Box” might leave your elders at a loss for words, longing for the days of Rosanne Rosannadanna.

We aren't saying the comedy of the Steve Martins and Gilda Radners who graced the screen during some of SNL's most notable eras hasn't managed to stay funny—of course it has. However, watching Murphy, whose stint on the show was only four years, is like witnessing pure, timeless genius. 30 years have passed since Buckwheat made his debut in 1981 and this sketch remains as hilarious as ever.

Despite the fact that there's no threshold the comic won't cross for a laugh, be it donning a Gumby suit, going undercover as a white dude, or unleashing the world's finest Stevie Wonder impression, the guy's ability to make you laugh—hard—always feels effortless. With his demented grin and “O-tays” at the ready, Murphy kills it with his reincarnation of Our Gang's controversial token brother, who just wants you to buy his compilation album. If you've seen it, you laugh before the jokes even drop because you know what's coming. If you haven't, you rewind it multiple times because you've just gotta see that rendition of “Wookin' Pa Nub” again to confirm that it actually just happened.

Say what you want: Eddie Murphy set the bar sky-high for SNL comedy past, present, and future.

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