Home Movies Movie Lists

The 10 Best ‘Saturday Night Live’ Sketches From This Season

Wes Anderson horror films, baby bosses, the return of Bill Brasky — take a look back at our favorite ‘SNL’ sketches from the past year

saturday night live

Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

This weekend, Saturday Night Live will close out its 39th season with alumni Andy Samberg hosting and St. Vincent as the musical guest, ending a "rebuiliding year" (per guest host Tina Fey) that saw a lot of new faces, a couple of breakout stars, the loss of one veteran writer-performer (goodbye, Seth Meyers) and the usual grabbag of hit-and-miss skits.

The 50 Greatest 'SNL' Sketches

We're going to concentrate, however, on the hits: Before you settle in late Saturday night — or whenever you watch SNL in this, the Golden Age of the DVR — here's 10 sketches from the past season that are worth returning to. Some featured long-recurring characters, some featured attempts at new franchises favorites, other were simply really wonderful one-offs. All of them, however, reminded us that when Saturday Night Live hits its marks, it can still be one of the funniest, giddiest comedy shows on TV. Enjoy.

Play video

10. ‘Bill Brasky’ Reprise

Call us nostalgic, but we miss the anarchic, what-the-fuck quality of these old Bill Brasky sketches and the surreal non sequiturs they would give us, so it was great to see Will Ferrell, guest host Paul Rudd, David Koechner and Taran Killam revisit this old chestnut. We can't decide whether "Brasky gives out raw scallops and Dutch pornography for Halloween" or "His urine stream is so strong, it can cut through an uncooked steak" are our favorite lines in this one, so we're calling it a draw.

Play video

9. ’12 Years a Slave’ Auditions

The show had tackled Steve McQueen's Oscar-winning movie on slavery before (see the "12 Days a Slave" skit in the Edward Norton episode), but this digital short zeroed in on a specific aspect of the film: casting the villains. Namely, it imagines a bunch of white actors auditioning for the racist parts and having to, shall we say, get into character in front of African-American crew members. It's a one-joke bit that executes its one joke wonderfully; bonus points for Kenan Thompson's McQueen impersonation and Jay Pharoah's reaction when a performer is told to meet his eyeline.

Play video

8. ‘Fox and Friends’ (With Anna Kendrick)

It'd be a keeper for the "corrections" scrawl alone, which always brings out the writers' best one-liners whenever the show mocks this morning panel show. (Our favorites: "Don Cheadle does not appear if you say 'Cheadlejuice' three times," "Nancy Pelosi is a human woman" and "God loves figs.") Throw in Kenan Thompson nailing Neil deGrasse Tyson's science-geek cadence, and boom. A winner.

Play video

7. ‘Mornin’ Miami’ (With Miley Cyrus)

One of the show's new recurring bits, and we were tempted to go with the one featuring Charlize Theron simply for the uncomfortably longer-than-usual pauses. But we're opting for the inaugural appearance of this sketch during the Miley Cyrus week, in which a trio of anchors (Bobby Moynihan, the mighty Kate McKinnon, and the host of the week) fake being cheery while taping promos for a morning show. Honestly, we could watch McKinnon pick her nose, stare off into space and sing a few bars of old AOR hits while Moynihan does a slow burn for hours.

Play video

6. ‘Lamborghini’

You could argue that Cecily Strong and Vanessa Bayer's Dumb Porn Starlets have reached the "okay, we get the joke" stage of SNL's recurring characters, and Jonah Hill's cameo wasn't as good as Timberlake or Affleck's last season. (Neither was Tina Fey's bit during her hosting gig.) But whatever: Pound for pound, this is still one of the show's funniest regular bits, largely thanks to the actors' dead-eyed, pitch-perfect readings of malapropisms ("Hasta la vista, scabies!') and lines like "Some cars are fast…and Hondas." We cracked up just writing that last sentence. 

Play video

5. ‘How’s He Doing?’

Race became an issue in this season's SNL, with complaints about the show's lack of diversity growing to a deafening pitch; after going on the defensive, Lorne Michaels hired comedienne Sasheer Zamata as a cast member partially, one would assume, as a way of defusing the criticism. (Regardless, she's a welcome addition and remarkably talented — see how well she holds her own with Vanessa Bayer in their Michelle Obama vs. Hillary Clinton Mother's Day sketch.) It was also a recurring topic in a lot of really solid sketches this season like the brief "Black Jeopardy" bit with Louis C.K. and this fake-talk-show skit from Kerry Washington's episode. The way Washington, Jay Pharoah and Kenan Thompson play off of each other here is incredible; the writing is smart enough to keep the "white people sure do like [fill in the blank]" jokes from turning into a low-hanging fruit; and Washington's raucous laugh alone when asked if she'd have voted for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama makes this a keeper. Our favorite below-the-radar sketch of the entire season.

Play video

4. ‘Office Boss’

Hands down, this sketch provided the season's physical-comedy high point, and if Beck Bennett ends up never doing another thing of note on this show, he can rest assured knowing that his baby-like office boss (referred to as "baby boss" in later sketches) is one of the most impressive slapstick turns the show has ever seen. This is bound to be one of those recurring characters that gets on your nerves after a gajillion runs, but this first time made you feel like: Now I understand why they hired him. Let's hope Bennett can build on this. 

Play video

3. Seth Meyers’ Final ‘Weekend Update’

It's not like we wouldn't be seeing plenty of Seth Meyers (four nights a week, in fact). But after eight years of watching the former SNL head writer deliver the fake news and yell "Really?!?" about ridiculous current events, we'll cop to tearing up a bit when we watched him say his last "Weekend Update" joke. The show sent him off in style, with his original co-anchor Amy Poehler and longtime foil/hot-club expert/husband Stefon returning to bid Meyers adieu. Having Andy Samberg drop in at the last minute to serenade him may have been an odd choice (we're guessing Samberg was just in the neighborhood and stopped by?), but to paraphrase Stefon, this farewell had it all — laughter, tears, the threat of violence, crooning, celebrities, a choked-up Cecily Strong and Bill Hader barely keeping his shit together.

Play video

2. ‘Girls’ Promo

Congratulations, newcomer Noël Wells: Your first at-bat and you hit it out of the park with a spot-on Lena Dunham impersonation. It's not just Wells nailing her Hannah Horvath-isms, Kate McKinnon doing an eerie impersonation of Jemima Kirke/Jessa's Euro-decadent attitude and accent, or how the faux-promo replicates the HBO show's boho Brooklyn vibe. No, what makes this sketch shine is Tina Fey's Blerta, an Albanian immigrant whose presence emphasizes how shallow the quartet's first-world problems seem compared to the rest of the world. ("My ex-boyfriend is an Internet millionaire!" "My ex-boyfriend is buried in shallow grave…on windy days, the dirt covering him blows away and you can see skull.") Even if you're a Girls fan, it's tough to watch the show now and not think of this takedown, or at least picture Fey's Blerta slapping Vanessa Bayer's Shoshanna with a rubber hand. And that last punchline is a killer.

Play video

1. ‘The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders’

Of all of the SNL sketches and digital shorts of the past few years, this faux-trailer for a creepy, The Strangers-like horror movie directed by Wes Anderson may be the one we've rewatched (and rewatched and rewatched) the most. It's an affectionate mockery of the filmmaker's idiosyncratic style, symmetrical framing and love of twee bric-a-brac, but more importantly, it was made with such a fidelity that it could almost be mistaken for the real thing — which makes everything here that much funnier. The music, the random objects montage that includes a picture of Edith Piaf, Edward Norton's gloriously nasal mimicry of Owen Wilson, Alec Baldwin's narration, the font fetish, the formal dialogue ("Dear Homeowners, May we kill you?-The Murderers"): it's a perfect send-up and a perfectly realized sketch.

Show Comments