In thinking about a topic to write about, I’ve decided to call upon a subject that I have a fairly intimate knowledge of. Over the next couple of days I’ll be running down what I feel are the 25 best sketches that have ever been on Saturday Night Live. As a disclaimer, with me being the age that I am I’ve only seen a few of the episodes from the 70s and 80s, as obviously I wasn’t born until 1985 and the old repeats on E! only ranged back to 1989-ish. Obviously I’m probably missing some great obscure sketches from that period but I still feel like I’ve compiled a list an adequate list. With all that being said, let’s begin.
25. Dysfunctional Family Dinner
from episode 23.11 – Sarah Michelle Gellar, Original Air Date 01/17/1998
This first sketch is classic Will Ferrell: the screaming, over-maniacal, egomaniac who spurts off randomly hillarious phrases such as “I drive a Dodge Stratus!” What really makes this sketch is how well Will and fellow cast member Ana Gasteyer (and host Sarah Michelle Gellar) manage to sit there in dead silence as they pick at their food without cracking up. This kind of understated tension is something we don’t see from Will very often today (think of how over the top he is in Anchorman or Talladega Nights) but easily helps this sketch into the first spot.
24. Dieter’s Dream
from episode 18.16 – Miranda Richardson, Original Air Date 03/20/1993
Mike Myers is known for his outlandish characters and sometimes surreal sense of humor, and never is it more apparent in this classic send-up of avant garde films. Myers’ Dieter character first appeared as host of the German show “Sprockets” where he would command guests to dance and touch his pet monkey. Here he puts his character into a brilliant parody of German experimental films, complete with nonsensical imagery and rambling dialogue.
23. Spelling Bee
from episode 31.09 – Jack Black, Original Air Date 12/17/2005
Alright, so here’s an obscure little gem featuring Will Forte demonstrating some wicked knowledge of comedic timing. Several of Forte’s characters speak in this diminutive, droll voice, but here he ruthlessly pushes it to extremes and takes the audience along with him as they decide on whether or not the spiel is still funny or not. Forte’s been on the show for 6 years now and it’s a wonder more people don’t know about his raw talent.
22. Bambi 2002
from episode 27.19 – Kirsten Dunst, Original Air Date 05/11/2002
|NBC\’s SNL – TV Funhouse – Bambi 2002|
Robert Smigel’s “TV Funhouse” shorts have always been hit or miss with me, however there is no denying the shear awesomeness that is Bambi 2002. Smigel hits the nail on the head with this brilliant parody of Disney and its constant desire to re sell rehashes of its old classics for a modern audience and a quick buck. The utter randomness of stock footage used in this (scenes from Akira and a Yankees game) only adds to the hilarity.
21. Ed Glosser: Trivial Psychic
from episode 18.04 – Christopher Walken, Original Air Date 10/24/1992
Christopher Walken is well known for being one of SNL’s most frequent and funniest hosts (and this isn’t his only appearance on this list), however he steals the show as a man who received psychic powers in an accident, yet can only use them to foreshadow trivial matters, like slipping on a wet floor or getting an ice-cream headache. Walken’s over the top jolts and facial expressions every time he touches one of his co-workers hands (as well as the cast’s incredulous reactions to him) easily rank this sketch as one of Walken and SNL’s best.
20. Debbie Downer at Walt Disney World
from episode 29.18 – Lindsay Lohan, Original Air Date 05/01/2004
One of the things that Jimmy Fallon is perhaps best known for during his 6 year tenure on SNL was his tendency to crack up during sketches that weren’t all that funny to begin with. The difference with this first Debbie Downer sketch is that not only is the entire premise so absurdly funny, but the entire cast actually breaks character more than Jimmy does. Things eventually get so bad that the cast can barely make it through to the end, with host Lindsay Lohan trying her hardest to force herself to proclaim that Rache Dratch’s character is actually ruining her time at Disney World. The unfortunate thing about how legendary this sketch was is that the writers decided to make it recurring, and none of the subsequent iterations of the character manage to come anywhere close to what this one achieved.
I’ll take a look at the next 5 in my list in the next week….