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The 5 Best Sketches From the 39th Season of 'Saturday Night Live' So Far

By Dustin Rowles | Seriously Random Lists | December 20, 2013 | Comments ()


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Jimmy Fallon is hosting Saturday Night Live this weekend with musical guest Justin Timberlake, and I expect that the winter finale of SNL’s 39th season will feature at least two or three of the season’s best sketches so far, so I thought we’d trot out the best five until now before they are forgotten. It’s been a wildly uneven season of SNL, and it’s hard to say that any one episode has been a wild success (Kerry Washington’s turn as host was likely the best of the season), but the high points have been incredibly high, displaying the potential that she has once it moves past its rebuilding season. Even the worst episodes (Ed Norton, John Goodman) have featured something that made the episode worthwhile (at least for those who only watch highlights the next morning).

There is clearly a lot of talent on the show, with Kate McKinnon and Taran Killam already on the verge of breaking out (and Cecily Strong isn’ far behind). The biggest complaint about this season — besides the lack of a black female cast member, or the fact that we still can’t name most of the new cast members — is that it’s over-relied on the two most veteran cast members, Kenan Thompson and Bobby Moynihan. They’ve had some success as bit players on the show, but neither should be trying to carry SNL, which is what they seem to be doing in some of this season’s episode. As the best 5 videos of the year so far suggest, it’s time to let Taran, Kyle Mooney, and Jay Pharaoh take the lead. (Note, too, that all five are pre-taped, which might also say something about the current cast’s improvisational skills, or lack thereof.

5. We Did Stop — It didn’t work for everyone, but Miley Cyrus’ raunchy music video, which came during the midst of the government shutdown (and a week after Cyrus’ MTV VMA’s appearance) was, I thought, the edgiest political piece the show has done all season (if not, all year). I still can’t believe Lorne Michaels — who doesn’t court political controversy like he once did — allowed this one to go to air.

4. E-Meth — This is how you take advantage of an Aaron Paul cameo the week before the Breaking Bad finale. This is basically the only sketch that will be remembered from the Tina Fey season premiere.

3. My Girl? — Jay Pharaoh hasn’t been on the show that long, but he’s already one of the more senior members of the cast, and his screentime has tripled this season. He was probably the most visible cast member on the Kerry Washington episode, where he gave us the best Digital Short-like sketch of the season by capitalizing on the popularity of “What Does the Fox Say?”

2. Ice Cream — Kyle Mooney’s dreamy, bizarre, nonsensical and hilarious sketch is either a great sign of what’s to come on Saturday Night Live, or Kyle Mooney will be gone by next season because no one understands what the hell his going on in his sketches.

1. Wes Anderson’s Horror Trailer — A perfect send up of Wes Anderson that paid tribute to the director as much as it mocked him. Absolutely brilliant.



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • Even Stevens

    "This is basically the only sketch that will be remembered from the Tina Fey season premiere."

    Oh I beg to differ: I saw you on Househunters, you picked the wrong house, bitch!

  • I realized I was getting old when I started bitching and moaning that SNL wasn't as funny as it was in my day... that being the late 80's/early 90's. You dang kids and your fancy meta-comedy.... it ain't no "White Trash Bed'n'Breakfast", I'll tell you that! Now run get me my calcium supplements.....

    Every once in a while, I pop my head up when the buzz sounds hopeful, but always end up thinking, "Nope. Still sucks."

    EDIT: To be fair, I DID love "We Did Stop" and "What Does My Girl Say?" Pretty much the only SNL I see anymore is posted on this site.

  • alwaysanswerb

    I might have included the "Your Love" sketch, or Jebidiah Atkinson (do those count as sketches?) over E-Meth.

  • gnibs

    "Your love" was very funny. And, different; so many times, SNL needs to be different.

  • wonkeythemonkey

    When one of the top five sketches is a parody of a music video that is already a parody of self-serious music videos, the pickings must be slim indeed.

  • Ruthie O

    My favorite from Tina Fey's episode was the Girls spoof. "Don't speak. If you speak, they will know you are simple. If they know you are simple, they will drown you in river." Oh, Blerta. You so crazy.

  • Forgot about that. The Girls spoof was hilarious.

  • JoannaRobinson

    I think it's really interesting, as you say, that all your choices are pre-recorded. Maybe it's time to hang up the "live" part of the show.

  • I think it becomes ordinary at that point, though. While the live element doesn't add as much danger as it once did, it's still the core of the show. SNL monologues work best for me when they embrace that using backstage tours or random pop-ins. The pre-taped stuff works and shouldn't be abandoned because it allows the show some diversity and can take advantage of comedy tricks like editing and timing.

    I still think SNLs biggest problem is its writing. Much of the staff just doesn't seem to realize what's funny, or maybe, what works on a sketch comedy show.

  • JoannaRobinson

    I guess, hot on the heels of combing through what Key & Peele accomplished this season, it's hard not to see the live aspect as a major hindrance.

  • Key & Peele is a better show right now. It just is, even with its misses. But it's also a different show, with different goals, themes, running time, and humor. So I'm not sure the lack of a live component is the key to its success.

    A lot of the really successful Key & Peele skits -- Substitute Teacher, East/West Bowl, I Said Bitch, British Gangsta, Luther the Anger Translator, Office Homophone -- could absolutely work live on SNL. The SNL writers just aren't funny enough to create that level of skit, IMO.

  • Also time in an important consideration. SNL has to fill a 90-minute show 22 times a year or a little more than 1800 minutes of programming to fill per season, which is also twice was much time as Key & Peele has to fill on its entire run so far (31, 30 minute episodes in tree seasons). K&P has time to massage sketches, do multiple takes. etc. etc., which is a big reason behind the show's success. Even though the misses have been outnumbering the hits, SNL is still in a league of its own with the way starts the week with nothing more than a few sketch ideas on Monday and turning them into a broadcast by Saturday.

  • JoannaRobinson

    Office Homophone is my favorite typo.

  • Dammit. Autocorrect humor. Funnier than most of SNL these days anyway.

  • Honestly, how hard was this list to compile? I watch the show every weekend and I'm not sure I could think of two memorable sketches off the top of my head. Guessing that's why it's t op five not top 10? Tough sledding with SNL this year.

    I'm a sucker for that "two people get fired and go off" skit. Otherwise, yeah, these are probably the best five.

  • BWeaves

    I don't watch SNL anymore because I can't stay up that late, cough, cough, shifts walker. But I loved the My Girl video. I thought it was a brilliant parody.

  • John G.

    I had never heard a Miley Cyrus song when that sketch was aired, and now I can't help but like that song, because of that parody sketch. I don't know who I am anymore.

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  • e jerry powell

    The same thing happened to me with Rihanna's "We Found Love" after hearing Wendy Ho's "(I'll Suck Your Dick in a) Public Place," actually. As a touring act with only a web distribution model, Wendy can be far more crass than anything on SNL, though.

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