Tonight I present part 2 of my top 25 SNL sketches series, including numbers 15-19.
19. Wake Up and Smile
from episode 21.08 – David Alan Grier, Original Air Date 12/09/1995Starting off tonight’s count is a very early Will Ferrell sketch from his first year at SNL, also featuring the underrated Nancy Walls and host David Alan Grier as members of a morning show that must cope with a broken teleprompter. Naturally things devolve fairly quickly into a surreal Lord of the Flies style fight for survival that showcases Will’s talent for the insane.
18. Japanese Game Show
from episode 20.08 – Alec Baldwin, Original Air Date 12/10/1994
For number 18 we travel back exactly one year earlier, an odd transitory season with few bright spots. Here is one of the few exceptions that is played brilliantly by Mike Meyers, in one of his final SNL performances, speaking what I’m pretty sure is fairly accurate Japanese throughout the entire sketch. This is also the rare sketch where host Alec Baldwin doesn’t steal the show, instead that honor goes to Chris Farley as the perplexed American tourist trying to manage his way through the insane game show that surrounds him.
17. Reagan the Mastermind
from episode 12.06 – Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Martin Short; Original Air Date 12/06/1986
One of SNL’s strongest points that I have really yet to touch on in this list is their ability for political satire, no matter who the incumbent is (The classic Lewinsky-era Clinton sketches are an example). This gem comes from another transitory time in SNL’s history, and features the late Phil Hartman doing an impeccable President Reagan with a split-personality. The way he manages to transfor between the public Reagan and the evil, scheming, mastermind version is utter brilliance.
16. Samurai Delicatessen
from episode 1.10 – Buck Henry, Original Air Date 01/17/1976
“NBC’S Saturday Night,” as the show was known during its first year, had what many consider to be the most ultimately well-rounded cast that the show’s ever had, and while it would be a good 9 years before I was born, I can appreciate the talents of the legendary John Belushi and his samurai character. The humor here is much different from the modern show, not particularly refined, but with a much stronger emphasis on absurdity and sight gags, which is pretty much what you’d expect with a sketch called “Samurai Delicatessen.”
15. Lazy Sunday
from episode 31.09 – Jack Black, Original Air Date 12/17/2005
Before I started making this list I had no idea that this famous Digital Short and the spelling bee sketch were from the same episode. Either way, the Digital Shorts are probably the most well known feature of the current era of SNL, and it was a hard decision to choose this Short over some of it’s brethren (particularly Dick in a Box, and other lesser known ones such as Business Meeting), but ultimately this classic featuring Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell put SNL back on the map after several disappointing post-Will Ferrell seasons. With so many incredible one-liners, it can hardly be argued that “Mr. Pibb + Red Vines = Crazy Delicious.”
Check back later in the week for 10-14…