12 Funniest Saturday Night Live Sketches7
By Dan Berry
12 Funniest Saturday Night Live Sketches
“Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”
As a comedian, I’ve dreamed of getting the chance to utter (or scream) those simple but evocative words that have been welcoming audiences to television’s premiere sketch comedy show since October 11, 1975, when Lorne Michael’s brainchild made its highly anticipated debut on NBC. The groundbreaking program has since won 19 Emmy Awards while redefining comedy for countless generations of television viewers. The program has been so successful that its become a benchmark for all other sketch comedy groups that have followed. From Kids in the Hall to In Living Color to Short Bus TV, sketch groups have taken their inspiration from the legendary television show and added their own brand of comedy to inspire futher generations.
The program has created careers for many comedians including Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Eddie Murphy… we can go on forever. What made these people great? Classic sketches. Can we choose just 12 over the last 26 years? Unlikely. So we were forced to omit literally dozens of classics. We’re sure this list will create great controversy, as everybody has their favorite SNL sketches. So go ahead, tell us what we should have selected!
Short Bus TV – Cops
12. Dick in a Box
What do you get for the woman who has everything? How about a dick in a box! That’s the suggestion of silky smooth R&B crooners Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake, who gladly extol the virtues of this exceptionally personal Christmas gift. One of several hilarious Lonely Island creations, this sketch became an overnight sensation attracting more than 28 million viewers on and offline. “Dick in a Box” also received a mountain of critical praise, going on to win a coveted Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics.
11. Bill Swerski’s Superfans
On one of the most quotable shows in television history, this was perhaps the most quotable skit. Bill Swerski (Joe Mantegna) and later his brother Bob (George Wendt) lead a roundtable devoted to Chicago sports. Though they are huge fans of “Da Bulls,” their overwhelming allegiance is to “Da Bears.” There is not a lot of intellectual depth here as the premise was basically Swerski and friends hanging out in Mike Ditka’s sports bar, smoking stogies, swilling beer, and eating polish sausage. But it was the ruminations about hypothetical situations and, of course, Chris Farley’s character suffering his 4,000,000th heart attack that really made it funny. My personal favorite is when Brian Dennehy appears out of nowhere to replace Mike Myers and the words “Fattest Sketch Ever” flash on the screen.
10. The Church Lady
Though pop culture has relegated Dana Carvey’s Church Lady to the wastebasket marked annoying, at one point just about every teenager in the United States and Canada was quoting this all-time classic character. Church Chat featured several memorable lines, most notably, “Well, isn’t that special?” And who can forget Church Lady’s superior dance? Despite the fact this skit made people want to shoot themselves in the face a long time ago, you’ll still get a laugh if you check out the episode with Sean Penn.
9. Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker
Despite his large size, Chris Farley was amazingly versatile at physical comedy (you could argue he was the most gifted slap-stick actor in SNL history). He brought a massive amount of energy into each of his roles. He had several hugely popular characters on the show, but none more so than Matt Foley. He was a down-and-out guy, living in a van down by the river, who decides to hang his shingle out and help America’s youth as a motivational speaker.
8. Celebrity Jeopardy
Saturday Night Live’s proclivity for parody and celebrity impersonations found the perfect partnership in their hilarious series of Celebrity Jeopardy skits. Although originally written to showcase Norm McDonald’s spot-on impersonation of Burt Reynolds, it was Darrell Hammond who stole the show thanks to his hilarious caricature of Sean Connery as a mean-spirited drunkard and womanizer who delights in antagonizing Jeopardy’s long-suffering host, Alex Trebek.
7. Wild and Crazy Guys
Forget the Roxbury Guys. It begins and ends with the Festrunk Brothers, a pair of wild and crazy partiers with “large bulges” and “many swinging adventures.” Played to perfection by Dan Aykroyd and Steve Martin, Georg and Yortuk Festrunk were political refugees who escaped the 1975 riots in Bratislava by “throwing many rocks at a Russian tank.” Good thing they did.
6. Buckwheat Sings
Before he was impregnating Spice Girls and picking up transvestite prostitutes, Eddie Murphy was actually damn funny (okay, the tranny hooker thing was hilarious). In this particular skit, Eddie Murphy, warbles through a collection of incomprehensible songs for his album Buh-Weet Sings. “Looking for Love” has never sounded so good. While Alfalfa may have been the focal point of Our Gang, it’s Buckwheat who has had the most enduring legacy thanks to Eddie Murphy’s unforgettable portrayal of the lovable tyke as a mumbling man-child.
5. Synchronized Swimming
After finding success with This is Spinal Tap, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer joined forces again (as they have countless times since) on this outrageous mockumentary about a pair of men trying to qualify for the U.S. Olympic synchronized swimming team. There’s just one problem: The U.S. doesn’t allow men to compete… oh, and one of the swimmers, Martin Short, can’t actually swim and needs to wear water-wings in the pool. Though definitely known more for his iconic character Ed Grimley, this is clearly the best Martin Short skit ever – and one of the funnier moments in television history.
4. More Cowbell
In 1976, Blue Öyster Cult went into the studio to record their signature hit, (Don’t Fear) The Reaper. In this epic skit, SNL takes viewers deep into that legendary recording session as an overly enthusiastic/crazed percussionist tries to leave his mark on the band’s most famous song. Will Ferrell’s performance as fictional cowbell player Gene Frenkle is a classic, but it’s Christopher Walken as real-life super-producer Bruce Dickinson (yes, the Bruce Dickinson), who truly steals the show with hilarious lines like, “I got a fever, and the only prescription… is more cowbell!” The sketch became an immediate pop culture phenomenon and has since been referenced ad nauseam in movies, video games and in television.
READ: 10 Reasons Christopher Walken is Both Creepy and Awesome – #10 More Cowbell
3. Vernon Hawley, Jr.
Want proof that John Larroquette is funny? Watch Stripes. Want more proof? Watch Night Court, in which he plays Dan Fielding, a roll that won him a then-record 4 consecutive Emmys (he actually had to ask not to be nominated again). Want even more proof that John Larroquette is a comedic genius? Watch this SNL sketch with Larroquette playing alcoholic country singer Vernon Hawley, Jr. With such classic songs as “I’m Drunk,” “I’m Drunk (Again),” and “Prison Bars” (where he sings, “Prison bars don’t serve liquor, and it’s always closing time in jail,”), this is without a doubt one of the funniest SNL skits of all time. And if you still don’t believe me, just purchase the complete Vernon Hawley, Jr. three-record set by sending $19.95 to: The Crests and Troughs of Vernon Hawley, Jr., Lynchburg, Tennessee.
2. Little Chocolate Donuts
Though he was on this earth for far too short a time, the legacy that John Belushi left behind has been an inspiration for comedians and Saturday Night Live players for more than 30 years. He starred in a number of classic skits, including “Samurai Delicatessen” and “The Blues Brothers,” but it was his role as, well, John Belushi, Olympic Decathlon Gold Medalist, that trumps the rest. To watch him competing in the various events, his belly swaying with every step, and then to see him sitting at a table smoking a cigarette and telling people that little chocolate donuts were the secret to his success, is not only silly, but the embodiment of everything that made the man a legend. “Little Chocolate Donuts… The donuts of champions!”
READ: 10 Most Ridiculous Cases Solved by Superheroes
#2 Spiderman and The Cast of Saturday Night Live
1. Chippendales Auditions
I’m not sure what’s funnier about this sketch: witnessing Patrick Swayze’s glorious feathered mullet or watching Chris Farley’s fat rolls jiggle rhythmically and hypnotically as he dances to Loverboy’s “Everybody’s Working for the Weekend.” Either way, the premise of pairing this odd couple in the same skit was pure genius. Hell, I could watch this sketch 1,000 times and laugh myself breathless each and every time. You’ll find you just can’t look away as you howl with laughter.
Short Bus TV – Hobo
Short Bus TV – Pottery Throwing
Dan Berry began writing and performing stand-up comedy while skipping class and drinking heavily at New York University. An inexplicably instant success, he has since appeared in clubs and on college campuses nationwide and is frequently featured on radio and television. Aside from creating the humor site “Jotter of a Rotter” and the internationally acclaimed website “The Prison Kite,” Dan has also lent his warped writing skills to a pair of failed pilots for FX and NBC, as well as to several current network shows that are somehow proving successful in spite of his crazed contributions.