Tonight I present part 4 of my top 25 SNL sketches series, including numbers 5-9. Not much longer now until the top 5!
9. Delicious Dish (with Alec Baldwin #1)
from episode 24.09 – Alec Baldwin, Original Air Date 09/12/1998
This is one of those Christmas classics that for some reason or another works on several different levels. The Delicious Dish sketches were always dead-on parodies of NPR programming, and both Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon (in a rare subdued role) perfectly spoof the typically smooth-voiced hosts of public radio, complete with lame jokes and square puns. Alec Baldwin is the real show stopper here, however, as he just as monotonously described his holiday creations with little to no regard to the rampant double entendres spewing out of his mouth. Most people have seen this sketch at some point or another, but the perfectly delivered punchline always delivers to me. Good times, good times.
8. The Angry Boss
from episode 26.18 – Pierce Brosnan, Original Air Date 05/05/2001
I think it’s safe to say that this might be Will Ferrell’s craziest moment on SNL, and that’s really saying something. Will is always good at playing angry, hyper-manly characters, but I think the writing is what really takes this one over the top, as well as Brosnan’s attempts at not laughing and the usual brilliance from Chris Parnell as Will’s “nemesis.” Many of the jokes seem to be prototypes of what would later appear in Anchorman, so I’m willing to bet that they had the same writer. Above all this sketch perfectly utilizes the rule of over-doing something just the right amount to keep it funny.
7. Space: The Infinite Frontier (with Jeff Goldblum)
from episode 22.20 – Jeff Goldblum, Original Air Date 05/17/1997
What, two Will Ferrell sketches in a row? I say it’s unavoidable in a list like this, and several other sketches with him just barely didn’t make the cut. Anyway, Will was not the greatest impressionist during his tenure on SNL, however like his predecessor Dana Carvey, he became known for exaggerating certain aspects of his subjects’ personality and forming his impression off of that. His eccentric take on legendary Chicago Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray would certainly qualify as exaggerated, and while quite amusing in his own right (see this runner-up video of him on Colin Quinn’s first Update), the absurdity is taken to another level when the character is inexplicably placed in his own space show. Add in Jeff Goldblum, and needless to say, hillarity ensues.
6. Matt Foley: Motivational Speaker (with Christina Applegate)
from episode 18.19 – Christina Applegate, Original Air Date 05/08/1993
Chris Farley was one of the most genuinely funny guys to ever grace the SNL stage, and in doing so created one of the most memorable characters of the 1990s. Farley had a penchant for physical humor, throwing himself about the stage with remarkable ease and dexterity while flailing his arms and legs and shouting in his loud, thundering voice. All of these elements combined to create a diminutive, angry motivational speaker who despite all his shortcomings still managed to find work over 3 seasons on SNL. The first sketch will always be the best, though, with a rare crack-up from David Spade as he understandably is overwhelmed by Farley’s brute force sense of humor.
5. Behind the Music: Blue Oyster Cult
from episode 25.16 – Christopher Walken, Original Air Date 04/08/2000
Considered by some to be the greatest SNL sketch of all time, the infamous “More cowbell” sketch lands on my list and number 5. There’s not much I can really say about this that hasn’t already been said. While Ferrell and Walken are thr ones who usually get credit for the shear absurd hillarity of this sketch, there’s no way it would have been as funny without Parnell’s straight-man, and yes, even Jimmy Fallon’s standard laughter plays a key role in this, for it sets off the chain reaction that eventually gets the entire cast, including Ferrell, to laugh, a rare occurance indeed. I’ve got a fever!