I grew up watching Saturday Night Live. I would stay up late at night, when I wasn’t supposed to be up, just to watch my favorite comedians. SNL is well over thirty years old now, and its really hard to pick the best ten skits, so I’m just going to stick with my ten favorites. There are definitely more, but I’m limiting this to ten, or we’d be reading all day, because ideally, I could do the top ten of each season, or even each decade. I tried not to pick the classics that everyone else picks, but the ones that especially resonated with my childlike silliness.
Samurai Delicatessen and Hotel /John Belushi
This is one of the first skits I remember seeing. I didn’t know who John Belushi was, and I’d never really watched the show that closely, but this one just caught me up, and I was thoroughly tickled. This is probably hella racist, but in my defense I was about 14 at the time, and this is very clearly a parody of Toshiro Mifune’s character from Seven Samurai, rather than a critique of Japanese culture in general. Watch Chevy Chase’s perfectly calm reaction to being confronted with two angry, fighting, samurai.
This skit still makes me laugh uncontrollably to this day. Just the idea of sharks getting smart enough to realize that all the food is on land, and knocking on doors, announcing what they are, and people letting them in! This is of course a straight up parody of Jaws, which came out in 1975, and was one of the biggest movies of the 70s.
James Brown’s Celebrity Hot Tub/Eddie Murphy
I showed this one to my mom, a few years ago, and its the first time I’ve ever seen her giggling, but still kind of outraged, as she kept asking why it had ever been made. I explained to her that its just how the mind of Eddie Murphy works. He had so many great skits, from making himself up as a White man to clock racism, to a parody of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, that it was really hard to pick just one of them.
The Continental/Christopher Walken
I loved it whenever Christopher Walken appeared on the show, because I hoped for an episode of The Continental, which was about a horndog, who was always trying really hard to get this one women to spend the night with him. She always managed to escape, usually while giving him his comeuppance.
Church Chat/Dana Carvey
A perfect parody of little, old, chastising church ladies. The Church lady was fearless in her critique of perfectly innocuous things, that nobody else was ever angry about, and you just know she had a purse full of Kleenex, and peppermints.
Black Jeopardy/Chadwick Boseman
I’m still laughing about this because it was so timely, and the Black Jeopardy skits are all ridiculous. I could have listed the one from 2016, which featured Tom Hanks,as Doug, because that was one of the more political versions, but I went with this one, because I like the idea of T’Challa, from Black Panther, starring in a game show about African American vernacular, and winning.
Ed Grimley/Martin Short
Ed is, for some reason, one of Martin Short’s little known SNL characters, and I don’t know why, considering that this character even had his own cartoon show. I like Ed more than any of Short’s other characters because he’s just sooo weird. He also reminds me, not a little bit, of Pee Wee Herman.
Mike Myers is probably one of the greatest SNL cast members on the show, and he has a lot of great characters to choose from, from Linda Richman to Wayne’s World , but his character, Dieter, from Sprockets, this Germanic, avante-garde, parody of German art culture in the 80s was the funniest for me. It was really really weird, and being the strange girl that I was I was delighted by it.
Space: The Infinite Frontier with Harry Caray/ Will Farrell
Will Farrell has so many great characters to chose from, but I wanted to pick this little known fellow, who was this incredibly clueless host of a talk show, who was barely aware of what talk show he was on, let alone what the topic was. He said such bizarre things to his guests, that the most fun part was watching his guests try not to laugh at him. I didn’t know until much later that this was a parody of an actual sports telecaster!
Buh Weet Sings/Eddie Murphy
This is one of the classic sketches from the Murphy years. I couldn’t leave this without adding a second one from him. I remember knowing all the wrong words to the songs he was singing in this sketch. This was a parody of the little racist Sambo character from the original incarnation of The Little Rascals, called Our Gang, from the 50’s, and that was actually how the character spoke. Was it racist? Hell yes! Was Murphy’s parody funny as shit? Hell yes!
Billie Crystal’s Clueless Talk Show host of Fernando’s Hideaway, who somehow managed to get a hit song based on this famous catchphrase:
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