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15 Hilarious ‘Saturday Night Live’ Talk Shows

The original ‘SNL’ idea was to skewer TV itself – and talk shows were the top target

Kenan Thompson

Dana Edelson/NBC

Lorne Michaels’ original idea for Saturday Night Live was to skewer not just pop culture and current events, but television itself. And what could be a better target than the self-important talk show? Beginning with Weekend Update in its very first season, SNL has heavily used – some might say abused – the talk show format. The writers have tapered off a bit since the Wayne’s World era, when it seemed like every other sketch was a show-within-a-show. But their use of the fake talk show continues to pay off in sketches like Girlfriends Talk Show and Waking Up with Kimye. To narrow our list to 15, we struck off Update (which is now in a category of its own) and stuck to recurring live sketches. From Fernando’s Hideaway to Church Chat and Bronx Beat, here are the SNL talk shows that still make us laugh.

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‘What’s Up With That?’ (2009-2012)

Kenan Thompson's fake BET talk show was an exercise in comic chaos.  Thompson played host DeAndre Cole, who couldn't say three sentences without launching back into his own theme song. Whenever the music played, a series of random characters would dance onto the stage. For the few seconds in between, Cole would interview guests, often unannounced A-listers like Morgan Freeman, Samuel L. Jackson and Robin Williams. (Rarely did they speak a word.) And then there was perennial guest Lindsey Buckingham, played by Bill Hader, who showed up every week hoping for his turn. Not all viewers loved this sketch, but its energy was hard to top, and it had enough mojo to air nine times. Seeing as Kenan's still around, we may see it again.

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‘The Delicious Dish’ (1996-2002, 2010)

Molly Shannon and Ana Gasteyer totally nailed the soothing, banal chatter of NPR hosts on their fictional culinary show, The Delicious Dish. But it was one of their guest stars who secured this sketch's place in the SNL Hall of Fame: Alec Baldwin, who introduced Terri Rialto (Shannon) and Margaret Jo McCullen (Gasteyer) to his signature holiday treat: Schweddy Balls. (His name was Pete Schweddy, and the treats from his shop included popcorn, cheese and rum balls.) Oblivious to the double entendre, the ladies raved about his balls' taste and appearance. That joke was hard to top, but the ladies very nearly did it when they brought the sketch out of retirement for Betty White, playing a baker who came to talk about her famous Dusty Muffin.

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‘Pumping Up With Hans & Franz’ (1987-1991)

Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon wore muscle suits to host their "informative training program for the serious weight lifter," which was basically a showcase for their Arnold Schwarzenegger impressions. Even so, Carvey and Nealon managed to take the characters to some interesting places. We saw Franz (Nealon) develop sexual feelings for another man, and Hans (Carvey) contemplate the vastness of the universe on a camping trip. Hans and Franz are among SNL's most-quoted characters, and their go-to insult, "girlie man," was eventually co-opted by the Governator himself.

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