The 14 Best Sketches (So Far) From ‘SNL’ Season 40

2 Jan

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Let’s just get this out of the way right off the bat: SNL’s 40th season started off a little shaky – despite an admirable hosting job by the endlessly entertaining Chris Pratt – and it seemed that the cast, as it stood, was going to take some time to gel. As it turned out, they gelled much faster than anyone anticipated and as the show reached its final episode of 2014 it found its stride in a way that had been missing for quite a few seasons.

SNL’s 40th season, hiccups aside, has had some truly brilliant, fascinating, and insanely funny moments, and I’ve decided to cherry pick my very favorite 14 (in honor of 2014, get it? It’s not arbitrary… I promise) sketches of the season (so far).

14. “The Fault In Our Stars 2: The Ebola In Our Everything”

Sarah Silverman and Taran Killam star in this pitch-perfect parody trailer. The concept is simple: Instead of cancer, the female lead is suffering from Ebola. While the set up is solid, Killam’s reactions sell it. (On a total self-promotional side-note, you can find some other great SNL trailer parodies in this article I wrote for Entertainment Tonight ‘7 Amazing ‘SNL’ Fake Movie Trailers You Need To Watch Right Now!’)

Four guys are sitting at a bar. Three of them are talking about the things they miss about how New York used to be before gentrification. Then the fourth (Woody Harrelson) talks about how he misses old school New York meth, and for some reason it’s just so damn funny.

 

12. “Cat In The Hat”

Bill Hader proves once again that he can make anything funny. In this admittedly silly sketch, Hader plays The Cat In The Hat who is called forth from the imaginations of two young children whose mother happens to be Cat’s ex-girlfriend. Things get awkward in the best way.

 

11. “Brain”

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This sketch gives us a look into the mind of a 20-something adult named Jeremy. James Franco plays the part of the brain that clears out old memories, which include Billy Zane’s lines from Titanic (with Taran Killam playing Zane) and the lyrics to Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda,” while no one can figure out why Jeremy keeps watching the “Anaconda” video over and over. The sketch would have been the perfect setting for any season of SNL just by switching out the references. It’s a good example of simple, clever sketch-writing. (No video is available because of music rights issues.)

 

10. “Assembly Line”

Like the “Brain” sketch above, “Assembly Line” is an example of classic sketch writing. A bit like this could have fit in on SNL back in the ’70s, or even on The Carol Burnett Show. Martin Freeman plays a manager on an assembly line who is explaining to a new employee (Taran Killam) how to operate the assembly line, and the newbie just does not comprehend the instructions. It’s simple, it’s silly and it’s perfect.

 

9. “The Office: Middle Earth”

A sketch from Martin Freeman’s amazing episode (which was honestly the best of the season, if not the last few seasons) makes the list again with this parody that mashes up two of Freeman’s biggest contributions to the pop-culture landscape: The Office and The Hobbit. He’s great, but Bobby Moynihan’s impression of Ricky Gervais as Gandalf steals the spotlight. Also, I wish Benedict Cumberbatch could have just popped his head in as Sherlock.

 

8. “Puppet Class”

In Bill Hader’s triumphant return to Studio 8h, he reprised his beloved character Stefon on weekend update (in one of the best Stefon segments ever), and he reprised the character Anthony Peter Coleman, a Grenada War Vet who takes a puppet making class and creates a puppet version of himself. It’s hilarious, creepy, dark, and there is no reason on earth that Anthony Peter Coleman wasn’t a recurring character while Hader was still a cast member.

 

7. “Church”

This ad for St. Joseph’s Christmas Mass Spectacular pitches all the fun and excitement of a long, catholic mass in the style of SNL’s famous Kickspit Underground Rock Festival. The only thing it was missing was Ass Dan (Unless he actually went on to change his name and become Pastor Pat?).

 

6. “Match’d”

This MTV dating game parody features three douche bags (Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney and Taran Killam) trying to get a date with a sexy girl (Cecily Strong) while a stern-looking Woody Harrelson hosts. It starts off as a rather clichéd parody until the insane turn: After the guys give their dirtiest pitches on why the girl should have sex with them, Harrelson reveals that the woman their wooing is actually his daughter. Killam’s terrified, bugged-out eyes get me every time.

 

5. “Swiftamine”

This joke hit pretty close to home. It’s all about adults suffering from the realization that they love Taylor Swift’s music even though they think they hate her, and the inability to reconcile that in their minds. I know this is a problem I must face every time I hear her come on the radio. It’s unfortunate that Swiftamine isn’t a real product.

 

4. “Lincoln Ads”

Jim Carrey plays Matthew McConaughey in this three-part sketch that mocks the Oscar-winner’s bizarre Lincoln car commercials. Carrey’s impression of McConaughey is strangely great, but the commercials are so easy to parody that this could have been very mundane. Instead, they take the weirdness to new levels and the funniest parts aren’t even about the commercials or McConaughey at all. “Whose kids are these?”

 

3. “Asian American Doll”

This fake ad for a doll company that has gone out of its way to not be offensive to anyone ever is biting and such a great commentary on the way people take offense to everything. It’s gotten absolutely insane, and this fake ad encapsulates exactly what you’ve ever wanted to say about bizarrely specific sensitivity and the desire people have to get mad about everything.

 

2. “Sump’n Claus”

Kenan Thompson singing? Already, we’re off to a good start. Here, he plays Sump’n Claus, a former North Pole elf who gives cash money to people who have been put on Santa’s naughty list, because, “Everybody’s gettin’ sump’n.” You’ll have this song stuck in your head all day and you won’t mind a bit.

 

1. “Secret Billionaire”

At first, this seems like it’s just going to be another dating show parody. Four guys – three of which are pretending to be billionaires while one actually is – are trying to woo a young lady. It’s all very mild until we meet Jim Carrey’s Abbot Bonneville Keane (that spelling might be wrong, it’s hard to tell). Every single thing he says is some of the weirdest, most surreal insanity, and it’s just the funniest thing SNL has ever aired. It’s the kind of humor that sticks with you, in the deep recesses of your mind, and makes you laugh at random intervals for weeks. But it’s also incredibly creepy, and on a level of bizarre brilliance that you rarely, if ever, see on television. All of that together makes it SNL’s greatest sketch of Season 40 (so far).

 

SNL Season 40 returns on January 17 with Kevin Hart returning for his second time hosting. His first time around showed that he had the energy and personality to be a great host, but most of the sketches fell a bit short. Hopefully, with a rested cast and crew, Hart’s second time around can hit the comedy sweet spot.

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