Saturday Night Live, everyone’s favorite late-night comedy sketch show, has given us some of the best knee-slapping comedy and gut-busting laughter we’ve ever had. SNL skits have been so famous they’ve launched their own movies, like The Coneheads, The Ladies Man, Wayne’s World, etc. Having been a fan of the show from a young age, I now give you my own compilation of the Best Ever Saturday Night Live skits.
Sadly, Rachel Dratch, who played Debbie Downer, has left SNL to be a whole slew of different characters on the also hilarious new NBC comedy 30 Rock, based on an SNL-type comedy sketch show. Debbie Downer is, like her name suggests, Miss Negativity. As her theme song depicts, she’s always ready to tell you about some new disease, a car accident or killer bees. You’ll beg her to stop you “Debbie, please!” but along comes Debbie Downer. The best is when they do a close-up on Dratch, or should I say Debbie, and they play that sad wah-wahhh sound. Even better is when Dratch just can’t compose herself and starts laughing. The audience loves it when the cast screws up! And these skits have a lot of those. Check out the one with guest host Lindsay Lohan.
If you don’t know what this means, you MUST watch the classic skit where Will Ferrell along with rock band Queens of the Stone Age are a unique band with Christopher Walken as head honcho. Will Ferrell, in a belly shirt and wig no less, prances around as…no, not the guitarist, and no not the drummer…but the player of the cowbell. “I got a fever,” says Christopher Walken, “and the only cure…is…MORE COWBELL!” The skit is hilarious and what’s also great is later on in the episode Will Ferrell joins Queens of the Stone Age on stage as they perform…where he proceeds to, yep you guessed it, play the cowbell.
Japanese Game Show
Chris Farley (famous for his roles as Matt Foley the motivational speaker, aspiring Chippendales dancer and traveling storm El Nino) appears in this one-hit-wonder as an unlucky American vacationing in Japan who somehow winds up as a contestant (not an audience member as he had thought) on a Japanese game show, where the punishment for a wrong answer is an assortment of brutal tortures. The host of this cruel and unusual program is Mike Myers, and no matter how hard Chris Farley tries, he can’t get the host or his fellow contestants Alec Baldwin and Janeane Garofalo to understand that he simply DOESN’T SPEAK JAPANESE. I won’t spoil the end for you but let’s just say it has something to with electrodes, a large wheel, and Chris Farley’s crotch.
There have been a number of these hysterical skits, where Will Ferrell acts as an uptight unethused Alex Trebek, stuck hosting a show with celebritites who are more than stupid. My favorites are the ones where Darrell Hammond plays Sean Connery, who insults Trebek at every chance he can, calling him names like “Canadian ponce” and insulting Trebek’s mother. My favorite is the one where Norm MacDonald does a marvelous job playing Burt Reynolds. The category is “Words That Rhyme With Dog” and the clue is, “It’s Been a Hard Day’s Night, I’ve Been Sleeping Like A This” and without missing a beat, Burt Reynolds rings in and says “Chinese whore,” at which point Darrell Hammond, playing John Travolta, chimes in and says, “But Chinese whore doesn’t rhyme with dog.” There are a number of these skits including a really funny one where host David Duchovny does an awesome impression of Jeff Goldblum. Other categories include “Colors that end in -urple” and my personal favorite, “Foods that end in -amburger.”
The Tony Bennett Show
Who knew Alec Baldwin could be funny? The answer is, anyone who has ever seen him host Saturday Night Live, that’s who. A fabulous actor in serious roles, Alec Baldwin has a fabulous sense of humor, rare for someone who doesn’t usually do comedy. The Tony Bennett Show starts off with Baldwin singing the catchy ditty, “I like things that are great” and believe me when I tell you, it’s a miracle that Baldwin can keep a straight face. His role as Tony Bennett is so right-on. He really captures the crooner’s jovial cluelessness (as well as his larger-than-life nose). The best part is when he has his guest (once Darrell Hammond as Dick Cheney, another time the real Tony Bennett as local jazz singer Anthony Benedetto) help him endorse such products as KY Warming Liquid. Or when he tells Saddam Hussein, “do your time and you’ll be a better man for it.” Don’t forget to keep watching to the end, so you can hear Mr. Bennett tell his guests that he’ll catch them on the “flippity-jip.”
Fairly new to SNL, the hilariously funny Jason Sudeikis and Kristen Wiig play the couple that EVERYONE knows. Completely without an iota of IQ between them, totally self-oriented, the Two A-Holes are the couple everyone loves to hate. The skits place the two lovebirds at various different places such as a crime scene, a gym, shopping for Christmas trees, or most recently at an adoption agency. Wiig plays the girl A-hole, referred to by her boyfriend only as “babe,” as she clutches her designer bag and stares vacantly while chewing gum and playing with her newly dyed and straightened blond hair. Sudeikis is the guy A-hole, a big sports-loving, bench-pressing fool. Tuned into only his own good looks and hot girlfriend, the two make the funniest pair. Watch the most recent episode where the couple goes to an adoption agency to adopt a child…that they want to look like Gonzo. By the way, you look like a rabbit.
If you’ve ever seen the real Donatella Versace in person or on television, then you know what an awesome job Mya Rudolph does portraying the famous fashionista, complete with long blond wig, manservants, flimsily held cigarette and a noticeable amount of drunkenness. The voice is what gets the most laughs, that heavily accented Italian smoker voice, which she uses to tell those who accompany her to, “GET OUUTTT!!” before collapsing into a heap on her designer sheets. The skin and make-up are perfect too, with the overly tan skin and the way too much make-up. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone who didn’t know better mistook her for the real thing.
David Allan Grier As Maya Angelou
This is my most favorite skit of all, because it made me laugh the most. Hard to find but definitely worth hunting for, the skit features comedian David Allan Grier, famous for his stand-up roles and comedic skills on In Living Color. Grier plays the serious and sophisticated famous African-American poet Maya Angelou, doing spoken poetry. To see Grier dressed as a woman is, in and of itself, hilarious. But to hear him do meaningful touching poetry of things like Fruit Loops all the while never cracking a smile is just too much to bear. I would try to emulate it for you, but I won’t do it justice. I dare you to watch this and not laugh.
Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker
Do you have unruly teens who need a good lecture? Hire Matt Foley, the Motivational Speaker. Chris Farley plays Mr. Foley like the comedic genius that he was, with glasses, slicked back hair, and pants two sizes too small. Matt Foley has a few problems of his own, since – as he’ll surely tell you – he lives in a VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER. And for those of you who don’t habla espanol, he lives in a van down by the rio. True to form, these skits are more physical comedy than anything, with Farley turning red and falling onto and breaking a lot of furniture, but his penchant for pathetic desperation is too good to pass up, which reminds me of my next fave….
Patrick Swayze and Chris Farley are two aspiring Chippendales dancers. There are two of them and only one spot to fill. These judges are going to have to make a difficult decision. Scantily clad in tight black leather pants and that’s about it, the two auditioners give the judges their best moves. The joke is in the dancing, of course, but it’s also in the judges, who somehow manage to act serious, as though both men are equally talented and attractive dancers. I mean come on: Chris Farley, playing a Chippendales dancer named Barney, auditioning in nothing but tight leather pants, giving his “sexiest” dance moves? Need I say more?
Most of these sketches can be found in the SNL archives located at nbc.com/snl. You can also find some at YouTube along with others. I wanted to list more but if I didn’t stop at ten I’d have gone on forever. Some other good ones? The D*ck in a Box short, which aired only a few months ago and which stars Justin Timberlake giving his significant other, shall we say, an unconventional Christmas gift. And speaking of Justin Timberlake, check him out with Jimmy Fallon in the skit for the Barry Gibb Show. They talk about issues, and gold medallions. What else do you need?