Thursday, December 30, 2004

40 Greatest SNL Sketches of All Time

In honor of absolutely nothing, here are the 40 skits I have enjoyed the most. Everyone of these makes me laugh just thinking about them. Below are the titles, a brief description, a link to the transcript (where available) and the memorable line....Please make comments to show me where I have erred.

1. VH1 Behind the Music: Blue Oyster Cult

*Chris Walken's turn as music producer Bruce Dickinson is the driving force behind this skit, but the efforts of Will Ferrell as the tightly clothed cowbell player is what people remember most. More Cowbell!

Memorable Line: "I got a fever! And the only more...cowbell!"

2. Word Association Job Interview

*For some reason, SNL took more chances in the 70's then they do today. This skit featured Chevy Chase interviewing Richard Pryor using word association. Somehow, what began as Tree/Dog quickly turned to Spearchucker/Honkey. Never has TV dealt with offensive names in such a manner that left everyone laughing, and no one offended. This skit gave power to both sides of the argument, and poked legitimate fun at the idea of racism. A transcendent skit.

Memorable Line: "N***er." "Dead honkey...."

3. James Brown Celebrity Hot Tub Party

*The key to a good SNL skit over the years has been putting familair faces in ridiculous themes. Eddie Murphy wailing as the Godfather of Soul "about to get wet, about to get warm!" in the hot tub is brilliant in its simplicity. Murphy's impression is the selling point.

Memorable Line: None.

4. Jesse Jackson Reads Green Eggs and Ham

*Never have prose and presentation met in such a classic manner. Jesse, in his forceful, poetic style, slamming his fist on the table and exclaiming, "I do not! eggs, and HAM!" goes down as one of the great comedic moments.

Memorable Line: Concept piece.

5. Mr. Short-Term Memory: The Game Show

*Many forget what a brilliant comedic actor Tom Hanks is, but this skit proves it. While written well, I cant imagine anyone else int he title role. When Hanks asks for the autograph, and Randall gives it too him, our hero immediately looks at the paper and exclaims, "Oh, what are you just giving these away?", his mock disdain is priceless.

Memorable Line: "Hey! Tony Randall!"

6. Space: The Infinite Frontier

*Ferrell is so convincing as the former Cubs announcer, Jeff Goldblum looks legitimately spooked as he looks on. With such questions as "Would you rather bet the top scientist in your field, or get Mad Cow disease?" and revelations that the Sun is his favorite planet, the faux Harry vaults to the top of the impersonation list.

Memorable Line: "Would you eat the moon if it were made of spare ribs?"

7. Matt Foley: Motivational Speaker

*Another character that would be useless in the hands of another performer. The first one stands out the best, as David Spade and Christina Applegate hide their faces to shield uncontrollable laughter. "A writer eh? From what I hear, you arent using your paper for writin', but for rollin' doobies!"

Memorable Line: "I live in a van....down by the river!"

8. The McLaughlin Group

*You didn't even have to know the show to find this funny. I actually didnt see the real McLaughlin until after I had seen this skit, and that just made it even funnier. Carvey's parody of the political roundtable host may be over exagerrated, but that is what makes it funny. "Issue number 4! Wrong!"

Memorable Line: "Wrong!"

9. Happy Fun Ball

*There have been many funny commercials, but they pale in comparison to this advertisement for a children's toy that has more than a few warnings.

Memorable Line: "Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball."

10. Steve Martin's Christmas Wish List

*What begins as a noble gesture quickly turns to self serving list reserved for a genie and his three wishes. The bit reaches a crescendo when he forgets number 5, and adds it in later, "I forgot revenge on all my enemies! They should burn in hell like the pigs they are!"

Memorable Line: None.

11. White Like Eddie

*Based on a book by a white man who dressed in black makeup to see how different the world would be (Black Like Me), Eddie Murphy puts on white makeup, and goes ona series of adventures. He is given free newspapers, parties on the bus with other white people, and finally receives an all cash loan just for being white. The staid, documentary style is what makes it so funny.

Memorable Line: None.

11(a). Celebrity Jeopardy

*I made an error. I wrote this sketch down, and then didnt have it in the final list. But the episode featuring Jimmy Fallon as French Stewart (you wagered, Texas witha dollar sign. Simply stunning...), Sean Connery (Trebek, with your dago mustache and yer greasy hair!) and the greatest of all time, Norm MacDonald as Turd Ferguson aka Burt Reynolds. (oversized hat, it's funny....) Absolutely hilarious to the point of crying and falling out of one's chair.

Memorable Line: Why don't ya give me apetit for 200.

12. Five Timers Club

*Probably not on a lot of lists, this was the monologue for Tom Hanks' 5th time hosting. He is quickly taken back into the Five Timers Club with other five time hosts. Steve Martin steals the bit, as does the brilliant five timers' secret hand shake.

Memorable Line: "'re great." "You're great."

13. Belushi on Weekend Update

*Many have seen it, and few remember what he was talking about. Truth is, it doesnt matter. To see Belushi start off with an homage to St Patricks Day, and quickly degenerate to screaming about his drug smuggling friend, only to become so enraged that he flies across the weeken update desk, is absolutely hysterical.

Memorable Line: None.

14. Hot Tub Life Guard

*Jim Carrey has demonstrated what a great sketch comic he is, and when he brings it to the writing on SNL, it culminates in this sketch about an overbearing life guard watching over a hotel jacuzzi. When the barrier is placed in the water so that Tim Meadows can swim laps on one side of the jacuzzi, we reach comedy gold.

Memorable Line: None.

15. Master Thespian

*More of a personal favorite. I find Jon Lovitz to be brilliant with the nuances to his acting. This skit isnt funny based on premise, but rather on the performance. It involves he and John Lithgow bantering back and forth, and when one of them is legitimately taken aback by the actions of the other, they quickly exclaim, "I was acting!" A must see.

Memorable Line: "Acting!" "Genius!" "Thank youuuuuuuuu!"

16. Census Taker

*Brilliant writing, and the off-kilter cadence of Chris Walken make this a very slept-on sketch. From the opening lines, where the census taker asks how many people are living in the apartment, Walken exclaims, I dont know, 80? When not counting plants and candy bars, they both realize 2 is a better guess. "Boy, I really over shot it on that 80, huh?"

Memorable Line: Census-Taker: Alright, let me go over this again, then. You are a convicted criminal, living alone in an apartment with a bobcat. And you work 56 hours a week as a street performer. Mr. Leonard: When you say it like that, my life sounds pretty damn good!

17. The Sinatra Group

*Phil Hartman is simply brilliant as the Chairman of the Board as he breaks down issues with Billy Idol, Sinead OConnor and Luther Campbell. "What's the deal, cue ball? I look at you, and I think, 8 ball, corner pocket!"

Memorable Line: "I got chunks 'a guys like you in my stool!"

18. Syncronized Swimmers

*Widely regarded as the best SNL skit. Martin Short and Harry Shearer are chronicled in their quest to become the first male syncronized swimming team. Due to his dearth of talent, Short performs the routine donning a life vest.

Memorable Line: "'Cause I'm not.. I'm not that strong a swimmer."

19. Quentin Tarentinos Welcome Back Kotter

*Another memorable case of when two ideas are meshed into one hysterical premise. When Travolta as Vinny Barbarino dances around the principal, Mr. Woodman, ala Reservoir Dogs, followed by a life saving entrance by Lenny and Squiggy....the ridiculous becomes hilarious.

Memorable Line: Mr. Kotter: "Listen.. you can't tie up your principal!" Epstein: "It's okay, there, Mr. Kotter! [ dances to the front of the classroom ] I got a note!"

20. Sincere Guy Stu

*We never say what we are really thinking. That's the premise of this sketch, except Joe Montana appears as the roommate Stu who says exactly what he is thinking. Read below for the line that made this sketch famous...

Memorable Line: "Oh, you won't disturb me. I'll be in my room masturbating."

21. The Devil Can't Write a Love Song

*Not many people had seen this until the Best of Will Ferrell DVD was released. Now, I rate it one of the best ever. The premise of a wanna-be country music star selling his soul to the devil for a hit song, only to find out the devil is a horrible musician, explores a new direction for this situation. Ferrell's songs are so awful, yet so perfect, up until he is forced to start ripping off bands the likes of Smashmouth.

Memorable Line: "I said...the guitar.....was out of tune!"

22. The Joe Pesci Show

*Jim Breuer as Pesci. Alec Baldwin as DeNiro. A talk show where eventually, the guests upset the host, only to meet the wrong end of a baseball bat. In the final rendition of this skit, the real Pesci and DeNiro show up to levee their own justice. When DeNiro says "lil bit", the skit moves to another level.

Memorable Line: "You disrespected him....'lil bit. 'Lil bit."

23. All Things Scottish

*Mike Myers as a Scotsman. Need I say more?

Memorable Line: "If it's not's CRAP!"

24. The Chris Farley Show with guest Paul McCartney

*All Chris Farley Shows are hilarious, simply because he uses the same interviewing technique as a 7th grader. "Um, remember when?" This version is the best of the lot, just for the final question he asks Paul.

Memorable Line: "Uh...member....member when you said, 'The love you take is equal to the love you make?' that true?"

25. Baby Names

*The build up takes some time, but is well worth it in the end. As a couple picks out baby names, the husband is quick to put down all choices, worried that his child will be teased because of his name. We only find out why he is so neurotic about names when a telegram arrives for Mr and Mrs. Asswipe.

Memorable Line: "It's pronounced 'Oss-wee-pay!'"

26. Closed Captioned For the Hearing Impaired

*It only takes about 10 seconds of this skit to create uprorious laughter. A public service announcement is preceeded by the voice over telling us that this presentation has been closed captioned for the hearing impaired. In a small bubble in the upper right hand corner sits Garrett Morris, ready to relate the message to those hard of hearing. As the speaker begins, Morris follows up each line, not by signing it, but by screaming it at the top of his lungs. Brilliant.

Memorable Line: None.

27. Skittles Ad with Christopher Walken

*If not for the success of this bit, few people would know that Jay Mohr was ever on SNL. In one of his few appearances, Mohr hawks Skittles as Chris Walken. Must be heard to be loved.

Memorable Line: None.

28. Inside the Actors Studio: Charles Nelson Reilly

*Will Ferrell, again at his best. Completely over exagerrating the mannerisms of James Lipton, he takes a simple premise, and makes comedy gold. The obscurity of the guest only adds to the comedy. This skit would be funny no matter who he was interviewing. "Cannonball Run II. Simply.......GLORIOUS!"

Memorable Line: "There is no word to describe its perfection, so I am forced to make one up. And I'm going to do so right now. Scrumtrilescent. "

29. Seinfeld in Oz

*In the final episode of Seinfeld, the four friends go to jail. This skit puts Jerry in Oz (from HBO) after a series of mix-ups. Seeing the Seinfeld persona amongst rapists and murderers is priceless. "I just got stabbed with an AIDS infected needle." "Well, good luck with allllllllllll that!"

Memorable Line: "Oh, you gotta have the make-up sodomy!"

30. Jackie Rogers Jr.'s $100,000 Jackpot Wad

*Martin Short is the excentric Jackie Rogers, and Billy Crystal is brilliant as Sammy Davis Jr. In a parody of password, the interchange between Sammy and contestand Rajeev Vindaloo is hilarious.

Memorable Line: Sammy Davis, Jr.: "Uh.. this is, uh.." Rajeev Vindaloo: "Chocolate Babies?" Sammy Davis, Jr.: "Right."

31. Homeland Security Briefing

*Robert DeNiro is Tom Ridge, reporting information he has received from the new terrorist hotline. Lucky for us, the tips are from mostly college students. A must read.

Memorable Line: "Is there a way to identify Hous Bin Pharteen? "

32. Super Heroes House Party

*A bit long, but a great take on the demise of super heroes as hey become middle aged. Belushi, as the Incredible Hulk, emerging from the bathroom as the party recoils is the most classic scene.

Memorable Line: None.

33. Delicious Dish on NPR with guest Pete Schweddy

*Caterer Pete Schweddy comes on to discuss his new snack item, Pete's Schweddy Balls. The obvious play on words never stops being funny.

Memorable Line: Margeret Jo McCullen: "Wow. I can't wait to get my mouth around his Balls." Teri Rialto: "[ sniffing ] Ooh.. I like the way your Balls smell.." Pete Schweddy: "Do whatever you want to, ladies. My Balls are here for your pleasure."

34. Choppin Broccoli

*Dana Carvey parodies the ridiculousness of rock songs by demonstrating how most are written. Forced to perform a song he forgot to write, rocker Carvey tells the tale of a woman, who went down town, she bought some....broccoli.....

Memorable Line: Um, duh...

35. Fred Garvin - Male Prostitute

*Dan Akroyd is the man the ladies love. Bought as a gift for a traveling business woman, Fred Garvin will not take no for an answer. "According to this, Im to roger you roundly until 6 am."

Memorable Line: Im Fred Garvin......Male Prostitute

36. The Continental

*You are the guest, as the ultra-suave Continental, played by SNL legend Chris Walken makes sad attempt after sad attempt to woo you.

Memorable Line: "Would you like some more.......champagnya?"

37. Star Wars Screentest I and Screentest II

*A premise that had more life than they gave it. Jack Lemmon as Chewbacca. Burt Reynolds as Darth Vader (uh, yeah, uh, what kinda car does this guy drive?). Streisand as Leia, Richard Dreyfuss as C3P0. The premise of the skit was the revelation that the original choice to play Han Solo was actually Christopher Walken. (portrayed by Kevin Spacey in this skit)

Memorable Line: None.

38. Land Shark

*Jaws comes to New York, and preys on young women. Anything to get you to open the door, where you are soon devoured. "Plumber maam. Um, telegram."

Memorable Line: "Candygram."

39. The Coconut Bangers Ball

*Sultry crooner Robert Goulet dazzles us as he belts out the latest hip hop hits. Puffy, Biggie. Good performers, but do they have pipes like this guy? Goulet!

Memorable Line: "Nature.....Goulet!"

40. Lucifer on the People's Court

*I can only imagine the pitch meeting, where someone wondered aloud what would happen if someone sold their soul to the devil, only to later challenge the validity of the contract in court. With Lovitz as the devil, we find out.



SMP said...

I'm afraid that you've slept on "Celebrity Jeopardy" -- I'll take the rapist, for $100 . . .

srah said...

Thank you so much for this post! *grins*

Consigliari said...

You are welcome!