Saturday Night Live, also known as SNL, is a late night television sketch comedy show that has become a comedic refuge for actors and audiences alike. The NBC network show has been on the air since October of 1975! Over the years the cast has changed quite a bit (although it has been from the beginning that there is a celebrity host and a musical guest on every show), but the quality of the sketches has not lessened with time. The show has won 50 Primetime Emmy Awards in its over 40 year (and counting) run. Throughout its run, the show has come up with some seriously perfect comedic sketches that range from celebrities to politics; we’ve rounded up the best of the best for you!
Nixon’s Last Days in Office
Season one of SNL started off with a political bang. This sketch, airing on May 8th 1976, was played by actor, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. Dan played President Nixon, while Belushi played Henry Kissinger. The sketch was written by Al Franken (later to be a US Senator) and Tom Davis. The sketch was about Nixon’s final days in office, when Nixon speaks to the portrait of Abraham Lincoln, in a drunken stupor. Nixon says to the Lincoln how lucky he was to get shot. Nixon then asks Kissinger to join him in prayer. These kinds of political satire were not common at the time and were quite revolutionary in fact. When Aykroyd was later interviewed about this sketches writer, Tom Davis, he said, “Tom was very, very oriented towards human feelings and very sensitive, So, when they wrote the Nixon piece, which was lifted right off the pages of history, it’s a little sentimental, it’s a little sad. When Nixon goes to his knees you almost feel sorry for him, because he’s at the bottom.”
Free-styling Garth & Kate
A lot of SNL is pre-written material that is rehearsed to perfection, so when it so happens when two actors can freestyle live in front of the audience, both in studio and at home, it’s a truly rare gift. One of the sketches, the singing Garth & Kat, are played by actors Fred Armisen and Kristen Wiig. The funniest to date was aired on December 19, 2009, when the two were singing off the cuff entirely, and you can pretty much tell considering Armisen is trying to keep up with Wiig as she begins to sing and he has no idea what about. Wiig has said, “We don’t rehearse. The first time we do it that week is literally at the dress rehearsal.”
Weight Loss Instructor From Hell
On May 18, 1996, Jim Carrey came on Saturday Night Live. As is known, the last ten minutes of the show are reserved for the most raunchy of material since it’s very late at that point. Jim was at the height of his career at this point and was hosting the show for this episode. However, during these last ten minutes, Jim decided to treat audiences to his take on the insane Fire Marshall Bill part of his In Living Color time on television. The sketch involved a young will Ferrell and had Jim play a weight loss program head who uses crystal meth to get his participants to lose weight.
White Like Me
Back in 1984, Eddie Murphy and SNL decided to join forces and create a skit about white privilege in America. The skit was called, White Like Me. Eddie Murphy would go out into the streets of New York City with a white face and proceeded to comically explore the city and everything it offered white people. He saw parties on buses, people were giving him things for free, and on a more serious note, how easy it was to get a bank loan if you’re white. Just like much of what SNL does, it is absolutely hilarious, but with a serious undertone.
Wayne’s World got it’s start on SNL. Wayne and Garth had their very own sketch on the show that eventually got reinvented into the extremely successful film spinoff. The specific sketch that made the world turn its head was when the band Aerosmith came on SNL in 1990 to join Wayne and Garth as part of the episode. Another famous face on that episode was Tom Hanks, who played the roadie for the band and Garth’s cousin.
SNL had a thing with the Celebrity Jeopardy sketch, as they kept doing it over and over again. The funny part was that the contestant was always Darrell Hammond playing Scottish actor, Sean Connery, and Will Ferrell playing host, Alex Trebek. No one knows why the two characters were chosen like that and what problems they had with one another, but in 2002 when Alex Trebek himself came on the show, he praised Ferrell for his portrayal of him.