Saturday Night Live has been around since 1975. The comedy sketch show has stayed a relevant comedy super giant almost its entire life span. Any show with the longevity that SNL has had is bound to have its valleys, but what keeps us coming back are the peaks! When I was growing up, we would spend every Saturday night at my uncle’s house. The parents would all be partying and talking about the weeks they had at work and really just trying to unwind. But when that cold open came on, everyone shut up and gathered around the large Magnavox television sitting on the floor. I remember the roaring laughter that would flood that tiny living room when Toonces the driving cat would come on, or when Wayne’s World would be excellent. Saturday Night Live (along with Cheech and Chong) is what made me what to pursue a career in writing and comedy. It is difficult to narrow down a top ten of the bet skits, so we will do a 10 Best of SNL Skits, because we all know there are more than ten, and we can add to the list later on down the road.
On May 8th, 1993 the comic genius Chris Farley introduced the world to the legend of Matt Foley. Foley was an inspirational speaker who worked with troubled teens to help them “get back on track” before they ended up in the same situation he was in, “LIVING IN A VAN, DOWN BY THE RIVER!” Unfortunately, we only got a total of 8 Matt Foley sketches, but they will forever go down in history as one of the best SNL sketches ever aired.
A sketch that really took on a life of its own, Celebrity Jeopardy! aired two episodes per season from 1996 to 2002 with two more sketches coming back, once in 2005 and last in 2009. Will Ferrell playing an on-edge parody of the wonderful Alex Trebek was so funny and wild that no matter who was on the sketch, it would be a success every time. Luckily, there were some amazing hosts and cast members to come on and bring life to the sketch. Some of the favorites were Norm Macdonald, Jimmy Fallon and Darrell Hammond.
Tina is Palin
Tina Fey is a POWERHOUSE in comedy! One of the greatest writers that the genre has ever seen. Not only is Fey a fantastic writer, but her performances are also top notch. Her parody of Sarah Palin leading up to the 2008 presidential election was of course hilarious, but also so spot on that many people thought it was really Palin! It was so good that Fey won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding guest Actress in a Comedy Series.
Bill Harder quickly became a stand-out cast member when he joined SNL. With so many amazing characters that Hader brought to life, Stefon has to be one of the best. Stefon was introduced in 2008 and was created by Bill Harder and John Mulaney. I have never seen anyone watch an entire clip of Stefon and not crack up laughing at his hilarious monologue and awkward mannerisms. This sketch has everything! A lot of the things that Hader would read off the teleprompter was new to him causing fits of laughter which really hit home how great this sketch was.
Not every sketch has the legs to carry two feature films (and possibly a third one in the making). Wayne’s World starred Mike Myers and Dana Carvey and first aired in 1987. The hard rocking long hairs made their way to the big screen in 1992 and came back for a sequel in 1993. One of the most quotable sketches in SNL history, Wayne’s World really is…excellent.
Will Ferrell’s transformation into the baseball legend Harry Caray was not just comedy, it was a form of art. The hilarious character that ultimately is Harry Caray, could stand on his own, but Ferrell took his mannerisms and went over the top with them. The stand-out sketch was with Jeff Goldblum where Ferrell, as Caray, asked him if he would eat the moon if it was made of spareribs. I know I would!
Chesseburger, Cheeseburger, No Coke, Pepsi
When the foundation of SNL was being laid, some of the hardest work was put in by John Belushi, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtain, and Laraine Newman. How lucky viewers were when they all came together in The Olympia Café to serve up cheeseburgers with a Pepsi, no Coke. This sketch ran six times from 1978 to 1979.
You know who else loves SNL? SATAN! According to Church Lady that is. Impersonator extraordinaire Dana Carvey brought The Church Lady to life in 1986 and last appeared in 2016. Enid Strict (The Church Lady) was the host of her show, Church Chat where she would interview celebrities and pretty much just shame them to hell. So many people found this sketch funny because we all know a church lady like this. Someone who looks sweet and innocent but has no issues with telling someone they are going to hell for the way they dance. The sketch really was…special.
“The Landshark is considered the cleverest of all sharks…it is capable of disguising its voice, and generally preys on young, single women.”
November 8, 1975 the shark walked our hallways and stalked our daughters! In response to the film Jaws, Chevy Chase voiced the Land Shark, Dan Aykroyd took on the role of Chief Brody, and John Belushi became Matt Hooper. Landshark will always go down as one of my favorite sketches SNL has ever produced!
Toonces the Driving Cat
What is one thing that everyone wants? Obviously, it is the ability to have your pets drive you around. Toonces the Driving Cat first appeared in 1989, when Steve Martin was hosting the show, and went on for an additional 14 sketches with its last one airing in 1993. The sketch would always start out with a family allowing their cat the drive excited that he was able to take the wheel. Suddenly someone would scream “Toonces, look out!” and they would all scream (including the cat puppet) as the car flew off a cliff. This was one of my favorite sketches as a kid and years later Paul Rudd would have a running gag on the Conan show where he would pretend to show a clip of his movie but instead would shoe the clip from the movie Mac and Me where the kid falls off a cliff in his wheelchair. For some reason, this always reminded me of Toonces.
Written exclusively for TheLastPicture.Show by Jacob Ruble
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