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50 Greatest ‘Saturday Night Live’ Sketches of All Time

From Bass-O-Matic to Buckwheat, Garth Algar to Garth & Kat, the best of SNL’s (almost) 40 years


America's greatest living comedy institution, currently in its 39th year, requires no introduction – but this list might. This is not a Wikipedia browse of SNL's most successful franchises or its most iconic moments, but a look at the best individual sketches – mainly because no one can convince us that a half-dozen dates with the Roxbury Guys are funnier than 90 seconds of Happy Fun Ball. Here are the classic moments that deserve their canonical status, and quiet cult skits that earned the same. And if you don't agree? Well, excuuu-uuuse us.

By Steve Ciabattoni, Jon Dolan, Kory Grow, Maura Johnston, Al Shipley, Jessica Suarez, Gwynne Watkins and Christopher R. Weingarten

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27. Ask President Carter

Original Airdate: March 12th, 1977

"When I was in college, I would tape Dan Aykroyd off the television, tape his Jimmy Carter, shamelessly practice it, and then go to the clubs and just steal it, do his Jimmy Carter," said Dana Carvey in the book Live From New York. "Then eight, nine years later, Danny's in the office going, 'I really like your George Bush.' It was kind of surreal." In this classic sketch, SNL answers the question: How hip could the President be in the pre-Clinton era? Well, president Carter, in the hands of Aykroyd, was able to identify a brand of acid as "orange sunshine" from a phone call, and even helped a young constituent on a bad trip. ("Do you have any Allman Brothers?")