While most TV shows have a limited run on TV, Saturday Night Live doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. The series has no doubt had its ups and downs, but after 44 seasons on the air, the late-night comedy show is still going strong on NBC.
Comedians come and go from the show, many of them moving on to have a lucrative acting careers. Since 1975, the series has provided hundreds of musical performances, skits, and a whole lot of laughs.
Updated on July 30th, 2022 by Colin McCormick: With every new season of Saturday Night Live, there are new skits to add to the show’s long legacy. While not every skit is an instant classic, there are some that provide the laughs and unforgettable moments that live on through the years. And with the show having been a stable of television culture since 1975, there are endless great skits that fans can always look back on.
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20 Farewell, Mr. Bunting
As a relatively new skit, “Farwell Mr. Bunting” is sure to go down as one of the biggest laughs in SNL history. The skit initially feels like a rather faithful recreation of the iconic scene from Dead Poet’s Society where the inspiring teacher (played by Fred Armisen) is fired and the students all stand on their desks and pay tribute to him.
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The skit is very patient in making the audience wait for the big moment. Finally, one student stands up on the desk and is immediately decapitated by the ceiling fan. The shock of the moment mixed with the bloody chaos that follows is unforgettable.
19 The Roxbury Guys
Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan’s recurring skit as the Roxbury Guys was one of the rare skits that is so popular that it is made into a movie. It is a fairly simple set up of these two obnoxious and oblivious guys going out to dance clubs and unsuccessfully trying to dance with girls.
The skit was featured countless times but the most memorable was likely when Ferrell and Kattan were joined by Jim Carrey who fit into the absurdity of the skit perfectly.
18 Black Jeopardy
While there is another Jeopardy-themed skit on SNL that is likely more iconic to fans, “Black Jeopardy” has become one of the funniest and most clever recurring segments on the show in recent years.
The skit depicts a game of Jeopardy aimed at Black American contestants with one of the contestants inevitably feeling out of place. Some of the highlights include Chadwick Boseman’s appearance as T’Challa and Tom Hanks playing a white conservative who does surprisingly well.
17 Debbie Downer
What is interesting about the Debbie Downer skit is that it became famous for how wrong it all went. Rachel Dratch stars in the skit as the titular character, a pessimistic woman who cannot help but bring down the mood of whatever happy occasion she is a part of.
The first time the skit aired, showing Debbie ruining a family trip to Disneyworld, it devolved into the entire cast breaking character and unable to say their lines through all their laughter. Needless to say, the audience loved it.
16 Harry Caray
Will Ferrell is regarded as one of the best SNL cast members of all time and Harry Caray is surely one of his best characters. Based on the real-life baseball announcer, Ferrell does a ridiculous impression of the man and has him providing his perspectives on anything not baseball related.
Harry’s disheveled appearance, his unique voice, and his general detachment from the world around him make it an endlessly enjoyable recurring bit that is simply a showcase for Ferrell’s comedic brilliance.
15 Mister Robinsons Neighborhood
One of the most famous actors to come from Saturday Night Live is Eddie Murphy. The actor has starred in popular movies like The Nutty Professor, Coming to America, and Shrek. The actor appeared in 65 episodes of SNL, but one of his most famous sketches was “Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood.” The skit parodied the famous show Mister Roger’s Neighborhood starring Fred Rogers.
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Instead of teaching children life lessons, Mr. Robinson was a criminal who often taught children about illegal things like shoplifting. Mr. Robinson was a character that appeared several different times on the show, but the time he taught kids about nutrition was one of the best SNL skits of all time.
14 NPR’s Delicious Dish: Schweddy Balls
Another thing SNL parodied was NPR (National Public Radio). In one episode, Jo McCullen (Ana Gasteyer) and Terry Rialto (Molly Shannon) hosted a segment on the air called Delicious Dish and had a guest star on the show named Pete Schweddy.
Will Forte appeared in 156 episodes starting in 2002 and MacGruber was one of his most famous characters. MacGruber was obviously a parody of the famous 80s show MacGyver.
While MacGyver was always able to get himself out of a tight space due to his scientific resourcefulness, MacGruber always failed and often blew himself up. The skit was so well received that the character was given his own film in 2010, starring Forte and Kristen Wiig. While it is hard to pick the best MacGruber skit of them all, the one with Jonah Hill revolving around an embarrassing workplace rumor stands out.
12 Two Wild & Crazy Guys
Two of the most popular Saturday Night Live actors of the 70s were Dan Aykroyd and Steve Martin. Both actors went on to have massively successful acting careers, but some of their funniest material came from SNL. One skit the two actors were in together was “Two Wild & Crazy Guys” which was about two Czech-born brothers named York and Georg Festrunk.
The brothers were always looking to pick up some ladies, but the swingers weren’t always successful with women. The characters appeared multiple times on the show, most recently in 2013 when Justin Timberlake hosted the show.
11 Celebrity Jeopardy!
“Celebrity Jeopardy” is one Saturday Night Live skit that has appeared in several episodes. Jeopardy! Is one of the most famous game shows around, with Alex Trebek hosting the show since 1984. Jeopardy! Is a perfect show for SNL to parody since it allows the cast members to impersonate several celebrities. The skit started in 1996, but one of the funniest additions came in 1999 in the shows 25th season.
This skit included some of SNL’s best celebrity impersonations including French Stewart (Jimmy Fallon), Sean Connery (Darrell Hammond) and Burt Reynolds (Norm MacDonald). Will Ferrell also appears in the sketch as Alex Trebek and has returned to the role several times even after he moved on from SNL.
10 Kitty Cat On The Mars Mission
In 2013 when Daniel Craig hosted the show, a skit called “Kitty Cat on the Mars Mission” was released. The mission takes place in 2023, which at the time, was 10 years away. The astronauts, talk about all the things they miss about Earth, and Bobby Moynihan goes on and on about how much he misses his little kitty cat.
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Eventually, he reveals he snuck the kitten onto the spacecraft, before freaking out about his cat dying and shriveling up. Thankfully, it was just his neck pillow and Moynihan pulls out an adorable little kitten. He even named him Fuzz Aldrin.
9 Chippendale Audition
Chris Farley was one actor whose life was cut far too short. Given how popular he was on the show, it is shocking that he was fired from SNL. However, he was still able to deliver countless iconic moments with this being his most memorable of them all.
The skit was called “Chippendales Audition” which saw Farley square off against Patrick Swayze for a spot as a Chippendale. Like a lot of Farley’s roles, his role as Barney was incredibly energetic and over the top, which is what makes the skit so funny.
8 Haunted Elevator (ft. David S. Pumpkins)
Tom Hanks is one of the most beloved actors in Hollywood, so of course he’s been on SNL a few times. In the “Haunted Elevator” skit, Beck Bennett and Kate McKinnon’s characters go on a spooky ride with Kenan Thompson’s character as the elevator attendant. Hanks plays the character David S. Pumpkins, who isn’t exactly frightening like the other floors of fright.
David S. Pumpkins is accompanied by two skeleton dancers, played by Bobby Moynihan and Mikey Day. The skit is relatively new compared to others on this list, but it’s an unforgettably hilarious skit with a character that you’ve probably seen every Halloween since 2016.
7 Matt Foley: Van Down By The River
Chris Farley is often credited as being one of the funniest cast members in SNL’s history. One of his most famous skits includes his character Matt Foley. When Brian (David Spade) and Stacy’s (Christina Applegate) parents find a bag of marijuana, they bring in a motivational speaker to set them on the right path.
Farley, being his energetic self, comes running up the stairs and introduces himself, telling the kids that he lives in a van down by the river. Foley is a hilariously aggressive motivational speaker and while he may not be the best motivator, the skit turned into one of the best SNL skits to date.
In season 43, Ryan Gosling hosted the show and starred in a skit called “Papyrus”. The character is hung up by the fact that the film Avatar used the Papyrus font for the movie title. It bothers Gosling’s character more than it would the average person, so much so that he has to go see a therapist, who informs him that the sequels seem to be using the same font.
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He even goes to stalk the person who designed the poster, just to get a glimpse at the man who made the atrocious decision. Funny enough, future Avatar movies have changed the font of the title, so Ryan Gosling can rest easy.
5 Natalie Raps
SNL has become known for having hilarious musical digital shorts, one of which is titled “Natalie Raps”. While Natalie Portman’s best movies show her amazing talents as an actor, this skit showed a new side of her. Playing herself, Portman decides to show her true colors as she breaks out into a profanity-filled rap.
Her image is destroyed as she talks about her crazy drug and alcohol filled life and her time at Harvard. Natalie Portman may not be anything like this in real life, which is why the skit worked so perfectly. In 2018, fans were even treated to “Natalie’s Rap 2”.
4 Any Of The Lonely Island Digital Shorts
In 2005, Andy Samberg joined the cast of Saturday Night Live and stayed on the show for seven seasons. Samberg had a lot of roles on SNL, but among fan’s favorite skits were the digital shorts with The Lonely Island. The comedy trio didn’t originally start off on SNL, but they were eventually hired by Lorne Michaels with Samberg becoming a recurring actor on the show.
The issue with The Lonely Island is that there are too many iconic digital shorts to pick just one. Videos like “Motherlover,” “D*** in a Box,” “I’m on a Boat,” and “Great Day,” are only some of the hilarious digital shorts that SNL gave to fans.
3 Olympia Café
One of the earlier sketches on this list is “Olympia Café” from 1978. The skit stars John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and Bill Murray as restaurant employees who only sell cheeseburgers, chips, and Pepsi (not Coke). The skit was inspired by a real-life restaurant called Billy Goat Tavern, which Belushi went to quite often.
The skit was funny from the start, but the punchline really comes when a guest (Robert Klein) wants eggs since it is too early in the morning for a cheeseburger. The skit not only brought more attention to the Billy Goat Tavern, but made the line “cheeseburger, cheeseburger, no Coke, Pepsi” forever memorable.
2 Wayne’s World
Mike Myers was at one point one of the most sought-after comedians in Hollywood and like many actors, Saturday Night Live really launched his career. Myers had many different characters on the show, but his most famous was Wayne Campbell from the “Wayne’s World” skits. The character was co-host of a public-access cable show along with Garth Algar (Dana Carvey).
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The skit was so well received that it was given two feature-length films starring Myers and Carvey. The skits also created the iconic catchphrases, “Schwing,” “Party on,” and “Hurl.” When it comes to iconic SNL skits, its hard to not talk about “Wayne’s World.”
1 More Cowbell
There are tons of iconic Saturday Night Live skits, but the number one sketch has to go to “More Cowbell.” The skit takes place at Sunshine Studios in 1976, where Blue Oyster Cult is working on their song “Don’t Fear (the Reaper).” The sketch stars Will Ferrell as Gene Frenkle and Christopher Walken as producer Bruce Dickinson. The skit also stars Chris Kattan, Chris Parnell, Horatio Sanz, and Jimmy Fallon.
The punchline of the skit is that Dickinson keeps demanding that the song has more cowbell. If Walken saying, “I’ve got a fever and the only prescription is more cowbell” doesn’t make you laugh, then seeing Ferrell dance with his belly hanging out while banging a cowbell certainly will.
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About The Author
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Christopher is a news writer, editor, and senior trainer at Screen Rant. He graduated from Rock Valley College in 2018 with an Associate of Arts degree and a Media Production Specialist certificate. After running his own movie blog called Flap’s Film Files on Facebook for over five years, Christopher joined the Screen Rant team in 2018 as a list writer before moving up the ranks. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, Christopher enjoys spending time with his partner and two dogs, Daisy and Jemma.
Christopher is a sucker for ‘80s horror and giant monster movies but has covered a wide range of topics during his employment at Screen Rant. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) is his all-time favorite movie, but Blues Brothers, Killer Klowns From Outer Space, and Evil Dead 2 rank high on his list as well. Toy Story 2 also has a special place in his heart since it was the first movie he remembers seeing in theaters with his Dad when he was only two years old.
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