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Funniest SNL Skits of All Time!
The Funniest SNL Sketches of All-Time
by Jim Longworth

One of my pet peeves is when a media critic or a performing arts group names the 100 best films of all time, or the 50 best TV shows of all time. Frequently these kinds of lists are based on such things as awards, ratings, or box office receipts. In doing so, they disregard likeability. Sure, Citizen Kane is a great film, but it is not a particularly enjoyable film. I might watch “Kane” once every few years, but I watch “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” several times a year.  I’m a big fan of the widely acclaimed “The X Files”, but if I have some spare time, I’ll load up an episode of “The Andy Griffith Show.” My point is that while most “Best Lists” profess to be authoritative, they are purely subjective.
And that brings me to my list of the funniest “Saturday Night Live” sketches of all time as the iconic show approaches its 50th anniversary. 
For the sake of brevity, I’ve limited my list to the top 20. That means I’ve had to omit some really good sketches like the “Dinner Date” with The Rock and his Brit gal Jemma, Gerard Butler and Kristen Wiig’s “Beauty and the Beast”, and Eddie Murphy’s first “Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood”. Nevertheless, my top 20 are segments that I can watch over and over again and laugh out loud with each viewing. Here they are ranked from oldest to newest.
“The Exorcist”
This classic satire appeared on SNL’s seventh episode which was broadcast in December of 1975, and featured Richard Pryor as one of the priests who attempts to exorcize the devil from Lorraine Newman. “Father” Pryor’s initial fear and his final solution make this my all-time favorite SNL sketch.

“Word Association Job Interview”
Also showing up in that same episode was this masterful exchange between Pryor and Chevy Chase, with Richard as a job applicant and Chevy as the employment officer. It was a primer in the use of racist language. Chase told me, “Rich and I wrote that about a half an hour before the show.”

“Julia Child”    
During the first few years Danny Ackroyd was the glue that held SNL together. He could write and act with equal aplomb and was always funny. In this skit he parodies cooking host Julia Child, but with a bloody twist.

“Wild and Crazy Guys”
Airing in September of 1977, Steve Martin (in his third time hosting) teamed with Ackroyd to portray the Festrunk brothers who are looking for women with “big American breasts”.

“Ebony and Ivory”
This 1982 sketch featured Eddie Murphy as Stevie Wonder and Joe Piscopo as Frank Sinatra set in a recording studio where they perform a satirical version of the popular McCartney/Wonder hit of the same year. Eddie and Joe’s impressions of the two singers are spot on.

“President Reagan, Mastermind”
During his tenure on SNL, Phil Hartman was the hands-down MVP of the show. In this 1986 sketch, Hartman portrays Ronald Reagan as a tough, brilliant commander in chief when meeting privately with staff, then pretends to be a kindly old mental lightweight when greeting the public.

“President Clinton Visits McDonalds”
A highlight of season 18 (1992) was this hilarious bit with Hartman as Bill Clinton who was supposed to be on a jog with his secret service detail, but pops into McDonalds instead. Clinton who at the time was overweight and loved to eat, pretended to be greeting patrons and using that as an excuse for eating everything in sight. “Go get me a coke,” Clinton tells an agent who responds, “But we can’t tell Mrs. Clinton”. Hartman replies, “There’s gonna be a whole LOT of things we don’t tell Mrs. Clinton.”

“Motivational Speaker”
In May of 1993 Chris Farley debuted the character of Matt Foley, a hyper motivational speaker who lives in a van down by the river. He is brought in by parents Phil Hartman and Julia Sweeney to motivate their teenagers played by Christina Applegate and David Spade, neither of who can keep a straight face at Farley’s antics.

“Schweddy Balls”
In this bit from 1998, Molly Shannon and Ana Gasteyer play co-hosts of an NPR show called “Delicious Dish” where they interview noted baker Pete Schweddy played by Alec Baldwin. The sketch is filled with double entendres about Pete’s holiday treats. It’s a classic.

“Charles and Camilla”
In a 2005 edition of Weekend Update, co-anchors Tina Fey and Amy Poehler welcome special guests Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles to talk about their impending wedding. Seth Meyers portrayed Charles and Fred Armisen was Camilla. Watching this set piece live, I laughed harder than I ever had before or since. It still cracks me up.

“Sarah Palin & Hillary Clinton”
Just prior to the 2008 Presidential election, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler played Palin and Clinton respectively in an address to the public about sexism in politics. Alaska Governor Palin was John McCain’s painfully uniformed VP pick and Clinton (who lost to Obama in the primary) was frustrated with having to share a stage with Palin whose only foreign affairs experience was in saying, “I can see Russia from my house!”.

This hilarious sketch from 2014 featured Woody Harrelson as a Marine vet-turned host of a dating show in which Cecily Strong had to choose from among three horny bachelors. Her questions and their responses were all sexually explicit until the guys learned that Harrelson was Cecily’s father. If I had a top 10 for generating laughs, this would be in it.

“Live Report”
This 2016 entry marked the debut of Mikey Day’s quiet, un-manly Matt Schatt character, paired with the gorgeous Margot Robbie. The couple had just witnessed a large sinkhole and TV reporter Kenan Thompson was on scene to interview them. Kenan was in comic disbelief at learning that the couple was married “to each other”, and that some of Matt’s genitalia was missing.

“Bern the Enthusiasm”
This is perhaps SNL’s best written sketch of all time thanks to the contributions of Larry David who fashioned the 2016 segment as if it were an episode of his HBO show. Instead of playing himself, David portrayed Senator Bernie Sanders whose Larry David-like crankiness cost him the election by a predictable margin.     

“First Date”
It’s hard to describe this brilliant 2017 sketch without giving away the big reveal. Gal Gadot plays a woman who had been out of the country and unaware of anything that happened during the 1990’s. She is having a first date with Kenan Thompson who (SPOILER ALERT) turns out to be O.J. Simpson. You’ll scream at the silverware reference.

“Kiss Me, I’m Irish”
In this 2018 sketch Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon, and Aidy Bryant play contestants on an Irish TV dating show. The bachelor is played by Bill Hader who learns during the course of questioning that he has a lot in common with two of the Irish women, one of who recently lost her lucky “charms” to him.

“Girlfriend Game Night”
That same year MVP Strong turned in another great performance, this time as the young wife of a 90 plus year old man (Bill Hader) who is wheelchair bound. Unbeknownst to her card night gal pals (Heidi Gardner, Aidy Bryant, and Melissa Villasenor), she brings husband Horace along for a very special reason. Be prepared to bump into furniture as you laugh at the reason.

“Traffic Altercation”
In this 2023 bit, “Abbott Elementary’s” Quinta Brunson is an aggressive driver who cut-off Mikey Day in traffic. Their two vehicles pull up side by side at a stop light and they proceed to use an obscene form of sign language to chastise each other rather than just roll down their windows and yell.

“Home Videos”
This 2024 entry is one of SNL’s most brilliantly conceived sketches. It opens with Andrew Dismukes sitting on a sofa between his two elderly parents played by Dakota Johnson and Mikey Day. Andrew is curious to see what’s on some old VHS home movies, the first of which shows him as a small child. The next video is labeled “How we met”, and what it reveals is a layered web of sex and scandal that led to his parents hooking up.

“Beavis and Butthead”
I almost hesitated to include this sketch in my list because the premise is weird and the script itself is not particularly funny. But what makes this mock News Nation town hall meeting so hilarious is how moderator Heidi Gardner breaks character and completely loses it upon seeing Mikey Day’s make-up as Butthead (Ryan Gosling plays Beavis). You just can’t help but laugh at her laughter.

So, there you have my top 20 funniest Saturday Night Live sketches. Let us know if you think of others that should have made the cut.



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