The SNL Funny 115
Entries 15-1

15. Introduction to Puppetry - 9/15/12 (Host: Seth MacFarlane)

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Comments:  Here's another awesome Bill Hader showcase.  He stars as Anthony Peter Coleman, a guy with issues who is just trying to work out some demons in an introductory puppet class.  This is one of those sketches that everyone seems to love, and I am certainly no exception to that.  This sketch was so popular that they actually brought it back and did it again a few seasons later, but of course nothing can ever match the first attempt at something.  Hader was always great playing memorable little psychopaths like this.

14. The Rainbow Connection - 10/11/03 (Host: Justin Timberlake)

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Comments:  This is a fun little sketch from Justin Timberlake's first SNL appearance in 2003, which goes to show he has pretty much always been a good sport about agreeing to be in the darker stuff.  It's also one of the great sucker punch sketches of the 21st century, because at first you think it's just a sweet little nostalgia moment where Justin sings a song with his childhood idol Kermit the Frog.  But it eventually turns into (what else) a dark, strange Will Forte sketch. 

Yes, here we have a great example of an early Will Forte anti-humor sketch.  And it's awesome because it's clear that nobody in the audience was expecting the sketch to go in the direction it wound up going in, because most people in the audience had never heard of Will Forte yet.  Oh, but they would.

By the way, my favorite part of this sketch is the fact that Will keeps having Kermit "talk" throughout the entire fight.  Watch when Justin punches and kicks Will and Kermit keeps saying "ouch!" every time that Will gets hit.  It's the details like that that make me love a good Will Forte entry.

13. Hip Hop Kids
- 12/9/06 (Host: Justin Timberlake)

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Comments: This sketch has long been a favorite of mine, and it's just further proof that Justin Timberlake has always been a really good Saturday Night Live host.  Even before he was doing the Digital Short stuff with Andy Samberg, he was standing out as the lead in funny little sketches like this one.  Which I have to add, is one of the single most quotable SNL sketches on my entire countdown. 


P.S. Here's the fun thing, I still have three Justin Timberlake entries to go on the countdown.  This is only my FOURTH favorite SNL Justin Timberlake moment.

12. Fly High Duluth
- 1/14/06 (Host: Scarlet Johansson)

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Comments:  If you're a Will Forte fan, you have to see this sketch at least once in your life, because this is one of the two big Will Forte SNL masterpieces.  He sort of takes anti-humor to a new level in this one, in which he plays the lead singer of a local morning talk show band who has inexplicable delusions of grandeur. 

I can watch this sketch over and over and over and I love it more every time.  There is so much fun little stuff going on in it.  Like, I love the fact that Wally Hammerlich thought his little fluff talk show jingle needed to have a full drum solo in the middle of it. And why the hell does he need backup dancers?

P.S.  My wife hates this sketch, by the way, so it might not be for everyone.  But hey, my list, so it's my call.  You're gonna get a lot of Will Forte on here.

11. (Do It On My) Twin Bed - 12/21/13 (Host: Jimmy Fallon)

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Comments:  Out of all the funny songs they have done on SNL over the past few years (and believe me, they have done a lot of them), this one, featuring the Ladies of SNL, is by far the most popular.  And with good reason too, this is an amazing song.  And again, I can't get past the fact that Aidy Bryant is featured so heavily in the song, which means she was probably one of the main people behind the writing of it.  If you ask me, Aidy Bryant is actually the unsung hero of SNL at the moment, I just don't think she gets a lot of recognition for it because it isn't all that obvious, and because Kate McKinnon has a much louder cheering section.  But if you watch all the musical sketches, they almost always revolve around Aidy.  She is the star of all of them.

I have nothing bad to say about Twin Bed at all, it's just pure gold from start to finish.  Although pay attention to the part about Aidy's mom catching a cough from Jean and "now it's a whole thing with Jean."  Remember that part.  Aidy Bryant has a running joke in her SNL songs about her neighbor Jean always showing up and being a pain in the ass.  And it always makes me laugh because it's just so random.  My wife and I also quote "now it's a whole thing with Jean" all the time, it’s one of those things that is applicable to nearly any situation you will ever run into.  God bless your poor neighbor Jean, Aidy, whoever she is.  She makes us laugh.

P.S.  I can't possibly end this entry without including this gif.  This will never not make me laugh:

10. The Barry Gibb Talk Show - 10/11/03 (Host: Justin Timberlake)

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Comments: The first time I saw the Barry Gibb Talk Show, it was without question one of the funniest things I had ever seen on Saturday Night Live.  I absolutely LOVED it.  And then, of course, SNL decided to make it recurring and just absolutely beat it into the ground, because, well, because it's SNL and because that's what they do.  But still, nothing will ever take away the original Barry Gibb Talk Show sketch and how god damn funny it is.  Between Jimmy Fallon randomly breaking into falsetto in the middle of sentence, to Justin Timberlake harmonizing along with Barry's threat to put Cruz Bustamante in the ground, to the line about crazy cool medallions at the end, this is without a doubt one of my all time favorites.  If they had stopped at one time and just made this a one-off sketch, this had a very good chance at being #1 on my countdown.

Oh, and while we're on the subject, how the hell does Jimmy Fallon not break character in any of the Barry Gibb sketches?  Justin Timberlake breaks character in EVERY SINGLE DAMN ONE OF THEM, but I have never seen Jimmy break even once.  And meanwhile Jimmy Fallon will break character in any other sketch on any other episode if one of the other actors farts softly off in the corner.  I don't get how he was able to keep a straight face through all of the random falsetto stuff.

P.S.  My 13 year old son is one of the funniest people I know, and he does a drop dead perfect impression of Jimmy Fallon doing Barry Gibb.  I have to get him to record it and put it on a podcast or something, it's so fricking funny.

9. Jebidiah Atkinson - 11/16/13 (Host: Lady Gaga)

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Comments:  And now we come to the guy who I would consider the best recurring character they have on modern SNL.  Which is not something I say lightly; as you might have noticed, I'm generally not a fan of when Saturday Night Live takes a good idea for a sketch and they decide to make it recurring and run it into the ground.  Go back and count how many of my Top 115 favorites are recurring characters, there aren't very many of them.

But Jebidiah Atkinson, we'll he's different.

Jebidiah Atkinson is the megabitchy 1860's newspaper critic played by Taran Killam.  He hates everything, he hates everyone, and the character is more or less just an excuse for the SNL writers to sling as much insult comedy towards beloved works of fiction and popular culture as they possibly can.  With some gratuitous jokes about Woody Allen and Jesus and Michael Jackson and Abraham Lincoln thrown in for good measure, because it's Jebidiah Atkinson and because why not?

Killam first did Jebidiah Atkinson on the Lady Gaga show on November 16, 2013, and he proved to be such a popular character that they brought him back again a couple of weeks later.  And I will always love that second appearance because the very first thing that came out of Jebidiah's mouth was "run stuff into the ground much?" referring to the fact that this is what SNL ALWAYS does with its popular recurring characters.  So at least Taran was in on the joke and he knew what he was walking into here.

Jebidiah is one of those characters that most SNL fans seem to love.  He's funny every single time he shows up on Weekend Update (6 times now, so far), and a lot of the fun is based around Taran Killam screwing up a line or having one of his jokes bomb, and then him having to recover.  He never actually breaks character in the traditional sense, because he doesn't start laughing, but it's one of the few character breaks I enjoy seeing when it happens, because Killam is so good at ad-libbing some recovery and getting away with it.  The more you see this character, the more you appreciate how good Taran Killam really is.

In any case, Jebidiah Atkinson is my #9 favorite and if you don't believe me, just watch Seth Meyers absolutely dying during the first two Jebidiah appearances.  He loved this character as much as I do.  He could barely get through some of the early Jebidiah segments.

P.S.  Because my heart is as big as all outdoors, for your viewing pleasure I have linked to all six Jebidiah Atkinson appearances so far on SNL.  The original (above) and then the five (probably better) follow ups below:

Jebidiah reviews holiday movies:
Jebidiah reviews the Oscar nominees:
Jebidiah reviews the Tony Awards:
Jebidiah reviews the 2015 Grammy nominees:
Jebidiah reviews modern TV shows:

8. Pandora Internet Radio - 10/20/12 (Host: Bruno Mars)

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Comments:  Every so often, an SNL host comes along who you're not expecting much from going into the show.  But he surprises you and, out of nowhere, pulls an amazing performance out of his ass.  Bruno Mars is probably my favorite example of that in recent years.

The Bruno Mars episode was solid from start to finish, but the one sketch that stands out to me from that particular night is this one, the famous Pandora sketch.  Which is notable for having like seven different applause breaks scattered throughout the sketch, which is virtually unheard of for a Saturday Night Live sketch.  This is one of those entries I could watch a hundred times and I will never ever get tired of it.  It is just so much fun.

By the way, not a lot of people know this, but before he was a famous singer, Bruno Mars actually began his career as a singing impressionist.  Way back when he was a little kid, he was known for his eerily accurate impressions of (among others) Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley.  In fact, you can even see him as a kid in the movie Honeymoon in Vegas (1992), he is the little kid Elvis in the blue jumpsuit with the big hair (see the picture below.)  Once you know THAT, it makes a lot of sense why he would be able to pull off a sketch like this where he impersonates a bunch of different famous singers.  And that, my friends, is what is known as "writing to the strengths of your host." 

I really hope they bring Bruno Mars back to host SNL at least one more time, so he can do a sketch like this again.  The guy just completely kills it in this one.

               Young Bruno Mars in Honeymoon in Vegas

7. An Immigrant's Tale - 5/9/09 (Host: Justin Timberlake)

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Comments:  Not much to say about this one.  This is the awesome, and completely underrated, sketch from 2009 where Justin Timberlake pulls off an Irish accent and pretty much roasts every single aspect of his entire career.  This has long been one of my favorite SNL sketches, and I was delighted when I saw that Justin Timberlake gave a recent interview, and he named "Immigrant's Tale" as his single favorite SNL sketch he has ever been in.  We also get solid supporting work here from Bill Hader, Casey Wilson, Bobby Moynihan and (of course) Will Forte, as Will's timing and inflection on the line "Where did it go?" just absolutely always kills me.

This is a great sketch.  Anyone who says Justin Timberlake is overrated as an SNL host is crazy.  He could have easily been an SNL castmember.  Oh and the revelation about Justin and Britney and how far he actually got with her when they were dating is the greatest.  Watch how embarrassed he is that he actually went through with saying that line.  I love the look on his face afterwards.

P.S.  Not everyone remembers this, but "Immigrant's Tale" was originally the lead-in to the second Timberlake/Samberg Digital Short song, "Mother Lover."  That's why they are talking about collaborating on a song together at the end.  But Lorne Michaels changed the order of the sketches in the syndicated reruns so "Immigrant's Tale" pretty much just stands on its own now.  But it's funny that my #7 favorite moment and my #5 favorite moment originally ran back to back in the same episode, and one was actually the lead in to the other one.

6. Hamm and Buble - 1/30/10 (Host: Jon Hamm)

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Comments:  I defy you to watch this sketch and not laugh.  And I love the fact that neither Jon Hamm nor Michael Buble are especially known for doing comedy.  Yet Buble, in particular, is just absolute gold in this sketch.  The comedy only works because of his reaction shots. 

My kids begged me to put Hamm and Buble in my top five because this is one of their all-time favorites, and I put it about as close as I could.  But sorry, I wasn't going to put it in front of Mother Lover.
 It's funny but it's not as epic as Mother Lover.

5. Mother Lover - 5/9/09 (Host: Justin Timberlake)

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Comments:  Okay, let's get this out of the way right up front.  Mother Lover is probably the single most tasteless thing that has ever been shown on Saturday Night Live.  It was the sequel to the smash hit Dick in a Box (2006) and, in my opinion, I have always thought it was actually BETTER than Dick in a Box.  Which is pretty amazing because how the hell do you top Dick in a Box?  Yet, somehow they did.  Mother Lover is dirtier, it is catchier, it is funnier, and it stars two award winning actresses in its video, which is one of my favorite things about it.  Seriously, how the hell did they get Patricia Clarkson to star in the video??  Last thing I saw her in, she was dying of a brain tumor in The Green Mile, and then all of a sudden here she is getting boned by Andy Samberg in an SNL sketch.  I'm sorry, but that's acting range.

Mother Lover has been one of my favorites for years (it's actually kind of sweet, all things considered), but if there is one thing I can say to you about it, it is this.  Do NOT click on the uncensored version of this song if you are reading this list at work.  I'm warning you right now.  Be careful who is around if you go watch the uncensored version of the song.

P.S.  Want some fun bonus links about Mother Lover?  Well here's the story behind the making of the song and the video, and how the Lonely Island guys were actually still editing the video right up until minutes before it aired live on TV.  It's a good read.   And here is an interview with Susan Sarandon about how her 15 year old son actually had to convince her to star in the video.  

P.P.S.  And here's the greatest thing about the SNL Digital Shorts.  Mother Lover is one of my favorite things that has ever happened on SNL, but there is still one Digital Short that I ranked even higher because it was even more epic.  Can you guess what it is?

                  Thank you, Mrs. Sarandon's kid

4.  Behind the Music: Blue Oyster Cult - 4/8/00 (Host: Christopher Walken)

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Comments:  Well you knew it was going to show up sooner or later.  The infamous More Cowbell sketch.  This is pretty much considered the single greatest sketch of Will Ferrell's SNL career, and it is without a doubt the most popular sketch to come out of the Will Ferrell and Jimmy Fallon era(s) of the show.  The minute I realized that my timeline of 2000-2015 was (barely) going to include Blue Oyster Cult, the question I faced at that point was how the hell do I write about Saturday Night Live and not rank it number one?

By the way, here is something that a lot of people don't know about me.  My first job as an internet writer was way back in 1997.  I used to write weekly episode reviews for an SNL website called  Every week I would recap the latest episode, and I would talk about the sketches, and eventually because I was such a big Will Ferrell fan and because I never shut up about Will Ferrell I sort of became known as "The Will Ferrell Guy."  Whenever there was a big Will Ferrell moment on Saturday Night Live, people would always go to my review the next day to see what I was going to say about it.

And let me tell you this, my favorite Will Ferrell sketch BY FAR back when I was a reviewer was the More Cowbell sketch.  I remember just RAVING about this sketch the day after it aired.  I told people just you wait, this is going to become a classic one day.  This will be one of the sketches that Will Ferrell is going to be defined by.  Which was funny because almost nobody else in the media was saying that at the time.  At the time (1996-2000), the popular opinion of Saturday Night Live among people on the internet was... this won't surprise you by the way... that "Saturday Night Live hasn't been funny since Chris Farley left, and Will Ferrell and this current cast suck balls.  They aren't funny."  Yes, if there is one constant you will always find among SNL fans on the internet, it is that the current cast sucks, and that SNL hasn't been funny since (insert your favorite) left.  They have been saying that about SNL since Chevy Chase left the show back around 1978.

I was one of the few people who was pointing out how awesome Will Ferrell was back in his prime in the 90's, and when I wrote that More Cowbell was going to become a classic one day, it was mostly met with indifference.  But I was persistent about it.  Not only did I keep harping that this sketch was going to be a classic, I actually set up a website called "Will Ferrell's Greatest SNL Moments", where I ranked More Cowbell as my #1 entry.  My website was the first site dedicated to Will Ferrell anywhere on the entire internet back in the late 90's, and I still have an autographed picture that Will sent me back in 2002 where he thanked me for creating the website and for ranking Blue Oyster Cult as my #1, because it was his favorite as well.

So anyway, that's my history with this sketch and with SNL and with Will Ferrell and the internet.  I said "this sketch is going to become a classic!" the day after it aired, and no one believed me.  I created the first Will Ferrell fan site SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE OF THIS SKETCH, and it was the first Will Ferrell site anywhere on the internet, and this was in the middle of an era when most people thought that Will Ferrell and Saturday Night Live weren't funny, and it was the worst thing on TV.  And even after all that, I'm not going to rank it at #1 on my countdown.  Simply because the point of this list is to highlight some of SNL's more recent stuff that doesn't get appreciated as much as it should, and More Cowbell has already had enough appreciation over the years.  Just like a wise man once predicted, this is one of those SNL classics that everyone worships now.

And, uh, sorry Will, that's the only reason you just got beat out by Michael Bolton.

The autograph Will sent me in 2002 because of my website

3.  Jack Sparrow (featuring Michael Bolton) - 5/7/11 (Host: Tina Fey)

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Comments:  Jack Sparrow is my all time favorite SNL Digital Short, mostly because of how bizarre and completely random it is.  I mean, I love Mother Lover, but anyone could have written a song about two guys banging each other's mom.  But to come up with THIS one, man, I don't know.  Who came up with the idea of a hardcore rap song where Michael Bolton randomly interjects himself and talks about the Pirates of the Caribbean movies?  This is one of those SNL moments where I love the execution, and I love the finished product, but I love the thought process behind the writing of it even more.  Mainly because WHERE THE FUCK DID THEY DIG UP MICHAEL BOLTON??!?

For those of you who don't know the history behind this, Michael Bolton was one of the most repeatedly mocked singers of the 1990's.  Everyone just made fun of the guy.  I mean, Norm MacDonald was just MERCILESS in the way he would make fun of Michael Bolton's long hair, and wimpy songs, and inexplicable career.  So for THAT guy (Bolton) to come on Saturday Night Live 15 years later, and be a part of something as epic and as random as "Jack Sparrow", well that's the sort of career coolness comeback that most celebrities can only dream of.  And to me, that's the thing that I love even more than I love the sketch.  The Lonely Island guys took Michael Bolton... they took Michael Fricking Bolton, who was one of the biggest pop culture punchlines of the 1990's... and THEY MADE HIM AWESOME.  This is the same guy who was a walking punchline in the movie Office Space, and they made him awesome!  Who wouldn't love that??

In any case, Jack Sparrow is my favorite SNL Digital Short, because it was one of those SNL moments that just came completely out of nowhere and everyone loved.  And now everyone thinks Michael Bolton is awesome.  I mean, I haven't seen a career coolness comeback like that since, oh, I would probably say Justin Timberlake.  And who says SNL doesn't pull off magic with peoples' careers every once in a while?

P.S.  My wife's favorite part of this song is Andy Samberg saying "nope" and "not better" in the background every time Bolton opens his mouth.  It's the fun little details like that that make you appreciate this song the more that you listen to it.

P.P.S.  Of course I'm sure you want to hear Michael Bolton's thoughts on the making of this video.

2.  Locker Room Pep Talk - 3/24/07 (Host: Peyton Manning)

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Comments:  Well, if you've gotten this far in the countdown, you knew I was probably going to end with a Will Forte entry.  And of course I couldn't possibly not show some love to this one, since it's one of the few Will Forte crossover sketches that was actually popular with everyone.

Out of all the sketches on my countdown, this one probably has the simplest premise.  Will Forte does a silly dance and everyone in the background tries not to laugh.  It sounds so simple on paper.  But throw in a completely random song that makes no sense whatsoever (the theme to the 1967 movie Casino Royale) and of course throw in Will Forte's traditional overdone intensity and enthusiasm, and you have a sketch that is going to beloved for years.  I mean, Will even gets Kenan Thompson to break behind him, and Kenan Thompson almost NEVER breaks.

The only sad thing about this sketch is that it is almost impossible to find a good video of it anywhere on the internet.  Since the sketch features a well known song, NBC probably couldn't get the music rights to post it on their website.  So the only video I could find was that fastcocreate link above.

"Locker Room Pep Talk" is the ultimate Will Forte SNL moment, and it is everything you should love about a Forte sketch in one clip.  It's weird.   It's uncomfortable.  It's random.  It goes on slightly too long, to the point that it actually comes around and starts to get funny again.  Oh, and it features Will in a sex predator mustache.  No other sketch has ever been more Will Forte.  In fact, Will has even admitted to this in an interview.  He once said about this sketch, "Looking back, if I had to pick a favorite thing in my time there, that's probably the one I would pick."

By the way, here's the original song, which really was the theme song of Casino Royale.

P.S. Oh yeah, and watch Bill Hader in the background of this sketch.  He is trying his best not to look at Will dancing because he knows he will crack up.  But he has no chance.  Hader is just dying the minute that Will starts moving around, but he is trying to hide it.

1.  Darrell's House - 5/4/13 (Host: Zach Galifianakis)

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Comments: Ha, I saved this one for last and I bet nobody thought I would even remember it.  And you thought I'd be that predictable and end with a Digital Short or a Will Forte entry.

First off, Darrell's House is not as funny as the last few entries, and I'm sure you will laugh harder at Locker Room Pep Talk or More Cowbell than you will at this one.  But there has NEVER been anything as creative as Darrell's House on Saturday Night Live.  And in this case I have chosen to reward innovation and creativity over just pure laughs.  It is astounding that they were able to pull off a sketch like this on live TV, and that is why I am ranking it my #1 favorite.  In fact, I read one particularly gushing review of Darrell's House the day after it aired that said "sketch comedians will be studying this particular SNL sketch for years," which sums up exactly what I think about it.

If you have never seen Darrell's House before, it is an awkward sketch starring Zach Galifianakis about a guy who is hosting his first dinner party.  He is filming the event for a public access TV show, and as he is filming his show he is barking out orders to an offscreen editor about certain things that he wants inserted or cut out, or other random things he wants the editor to do to add to the show.  And of course, because it is Zach Galifianakis, and he specializes in this kind of uncomfortable humor, the filming is a complete disaster because everything that can go wrong during a TV show, does. 

The first time you see this sketch (clip #1 above), you don't really know what to think of it, because you don't know where the jokes are supposed to be.  It's just some guy failing at putting together a TV show, and screaming at his editor.  In fact, when you watch the first clip above, pay attention to how the audience doesn't really react to it either.  They have no idea what to make of Darrell's House.  The first time you watch it, it seems like a complete bomb of a sketch.

Ah, but that's when the magic happens.

This is the part of Darrell's House that was so amazing, and this is why like the review said, sketch comedians will be studying this sketch for years.  The Saturday Night Live editor (Oz Rodriguez) took all the edits that Darrell asked for in the sketch, and that's exactly what he did.  He edited it exactly like Darrell wanted it to be edited.  And then they surprised everyone by airing the "finished" version of Darrell's House as the very last sketch of the night.  And meanwhile you're sitting there thinking, holy shit, this is a live TV show.  How the hell did they get that edited and packaged so quickly?

The finished version of Darrell's House is just a delightful mashup of bad jump cuts, split screens, awkward background shots, intentionally bad splices, and Al Jolson.  It’s bad on purpose, but damnit if it isn't EXACTLY WHAT DARRELL ASKED HIS EDITOR TO DO!  And that's why this is my favorite thing that Saturday Night Live has pulled off in the past fifteen years.  I have never seen anything else like it.  In fact, listen to the audience's reaction when they realize this was actually a two part sketch and that the second part is EXACTLY what Darrell was telling his editor to do in the first part.  They love it.  And SNL did this all on live TV.  It is just an absolute masterpiece.


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