SNL: The 10 Best Sketches of the Past Season

During the regular TV season, I spend many a Sunday morning recapping the previous evening’s Saturday Night Live. With the show in hibernation till fall, I thought this weekend I’d take a trip down Recent Memory Lane and count down the 10 best sketches of Season 37. From a Kermit the Frog encounter to an all-star Weekend Update, here are my picks:

10. Arlene” (Oct. 1, 2011) | Melissa McCarthy as a frumpy office worker sexually harassing Jason Sudeikis’s mortified married man wasn’t the world’s freshest concept, but the guest host’s commitment to the comedic cause — and her outrageous use of a horse balloon — had me howling in spite of myself.

9. Really!?! With Seth and Kermit 
(Nov. 19, 2011) | Bask in Kermit’s outrage about Congress labeling Twizzlers and a grape soda as fruit salad.

8. Get in the Cage (Feb. 11, 2012)
 | Honestly, I don’t know how the real Nicolas Cage managed to keep a straight face during a bit that explained the two-step formula for his most successful movies: “All the dialog is either whispered or screamed.” And “everything in the movie is on fire.” Amazing stuff.

7. Bein’ Quirky With Zooey Deschanel 
(Feb. 11, 2012) | The actual Deschanel proved her gameness as a host by playing opposite Abby Elliott’s version of herself — a wide-eyed, twee actress extolling the virtues of Blossom, yarn (which got a genius one-word theme song), and bringing home garbage. Deschanel’s Mary Kate Olsen blew in on a breeze to make a cozy for her Starbucks cup, but Taran Killam’s Cera (a giggling, mealy-mouthed delight) and Kristen Wiig’s Bjork (“if you like screaming, make it music!”) scored plenty of laughs, too.

6. Lazy Sunday 2
 (May 19, 2012) | A terrific sequel to Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell’s genius rap collaboration. A laugh riot throughout, with doubly big guffaws at references to John Wilkes Booth, Raven Symone, and Channing Tatum. An instant classic? Yes!

5. James Carville on Weekend Update 
(March 3, 2012) | Marvel at Bill Hader’s scathingly funny and wonderfully absurdist take on the Democratic political adviser. I laughed from the beginning (Carville’s childhood game of The Patchelor featuring a bunch of kids hoping to marry a gussied-up watermelon) to that amazingly insane tale of luring Newt Gingrich into an affair with a personal ad (“I love it when a guy is just a big blob of gray”), dressing up as a woman, taking him for a Paddleboat ride, and then shocking him with a reveal of his “Harry Connick Jr.” (which looks exactly like Carville’s face — without glasses).

4. Kim’s Fairytale Divorce 
(Nov. 5, 2011) | Everything you hate about the Kardashians, but in a form designed to make you roar with laughter, instead of vomit in agony. (Apologies to Bruce Jenner’s face included.)

3. Bronx Beat
 (Feb. 18, 2012) | Amy Poehler joined guest host and fellow SNL alum Maya Rudolph for a brilliant revival of gum-snapping talk hosts Betty and Jodi, dishing everything from Jennifer Lopez’s young new beau (“why don’t you smoke a doobie spliff with your hip-hop boy-toy?”) to their own sex lives to episodes of Hoarders (where people find “open cans of Dinty Moore beef stew under a blanket of adult diapers”). The insanity got cranked up to 11 when Andy Samberg and a “hirsute” Timberlake went from camera guy and boom operator to Betty and Jodi’s amorous guests.

2. Stefon 
(Dec. 10, 2011) | I could barely breathe during the season’s best Stefon, from the punch line about a bulldog who looks like Wilford Brimley (“the password is dia-beatus”) to Menorah the Explorer and all the way to that genius/random mention of a CVS employee (“don’t bother her, because she is on break!”). Bonus: Hader almost losing it on the second mention of “Spud Webb.”

1. Weekend Update Joke-Off 
(Dec. 17, 2011) | In a stroke of comic genius, Poehler, Tina Fey, and guest host Jimmy Fallon got behind the anchor’s desk with Seth Meyers and lobbed punch line after punch line about a strip club offering free lap dances to patrons who donate gifts for needy children. (The buzzer sound-effects were pretty amazing, too.) SNL should be required to wrangle guests for a joke-off every single week, no? My personal fave (from Fallon): “Unlike the strippers, the toys must not be damaged.”

What were your favorite sketches from SNL‘s latest season? Did I miss any of your personal picks? Or did I include anything that made you roll your eyes? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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98 Comments
  1. Tristan says:

    What about J-Pop America Fun Time Now?

  2. Alex Quirk says:

    Jay Pharoah as Stephen A Smith, Jay Pharoah, the master of impressions, did a spot on Stephen A Smith, nothing better

  3. Kelly says:

    Jesse Eisenberg in Don’t Forget the Lyrics was hilarious! And The Real Housewives of Disney!

  4. Pat says:

    Jimmy Fallon as Beethoven directing an orchestra playing “Ode-Da-Joyyy,” the disco version. The introductions were hilarious. “Next I’d like to introduce the brass section. I call them the brassholes.”

  5. Sara says:

    All of the skits chosen were pretty great!

    Beyonce/Jay-Z baby skit, The Real Housewives of Disney, “Someone Like You” skit, and the Michael Buble Christmas special, and anything with Drunk Uncle were hilarious as well.

  6. Laila says:

    Kristen Wiig as Rebecca LaRue teaching how to flert was fantastic!

  7. David Mero says:

    I enjoyed your selections, It’s a matter of taste as to what is funny to some, and not funny to others. I’m one of those old school SNL fans from the shows rookie year, I can still remember falling down laughing at some of the stuff from those shows.

  8. Cat says:

    Interesting that none of Kristen Wiig’s recurring characters are on this list. In fact, she only had a small part in one of your top ten for the season. And she is supposedly one of the best female cast members ever?

  9. Ckey says:

    No one mentioned the Mick Jagger episode??? I laughed til I cried!!! From the monologue til Kristen Wiig’s farewell dance. Jagger even sang a politically comedic song… Don’t let Mitt Romney cut your hair!!!!! I agreed with five of your Top 10 picks. Wish they would show more of Jay Pharoah. He is phenomenal.

  10. Rich says:

    I remember in 1972 when snl first aired with the not ready for prime time players….. what a hoot

  11. Dontown abbey sketch. Loved it. Stefon. Always Stefon. Bon ivor falling asleep was amazing. Wigg being Lana del Rey. Get in the cage cracked me up.

  12. Charlie says:

    Def the princesses over zoey deschanel. I’m not sure if governor patterson was this season or ot but it was great

  13. RR says:

    Personally I’d have chosen Kristen’s Weekend Update / Rebecca LaRue flirt sketch, and her bit with Maya Rudolph as Game show models…

  14. Danielle H says:

    Stefon makes me almost pee my pants. Funniest thing on the show, hands down! (or to your face, covering your mouth :x)

  15. Ruckhappy says:

    I shouldn’t be surprised that a TV critic would go 2-for-10 in picking the best sketches. How could you overlook “Newt Gingrich, Moon President”? “Who’s On Top?” from the Baldwin show? “Tell Him” with Anna Faris? Taran’s Limbaugh cold open? Jonah Hill’s monologue? Seriously.

    Anyone who cites “The Californians” is a damn fool.

  16. Princess Adora says:

    Notice that 50% of these sketches came from Weekend Update? It is literally (or littrally – as Rob Lowe would say) the BEST thing about SNL the past few seasons. I would love it if they made SNL 1 hour and extended Weekend Update, maybe the show would be worth watching again.

  17. Jason Mack says:

    Thinking back on some that weren’t in the top 10
    • Season’s Greetings “I wish it was Christmas today”. I’ve always lived this song & dance with Jimmy, Chris, Tracy & Horatio
    • The Amazon 50 Shades of Grey skit (is that Joel McHale?)
    • Almost Pizza (from Pfizer) I p*ssed myself when a slice shattered on the ground
    • Scared Straight with Lindsay Lohan (and when Jason knocks over the pencils at the end and everyone breaks character was hysterical)
    • Real Housewives Of Disney
    • Beyonce/JayZ get visitors (Taran’s Brad Pitt was hilarious)
    • The 17th Annual Adult Video Awards (with the “in memorium” segment, RIP The Dongfather)
    • Zooey Dechenel works in a 1950s newspaper and everyone talks and acts so fast she can’t keep up
    • Super Showcase with Maya Rudolph & Kristen Wiig as Shonda & Vonda the showcase models (“i think it’s beef”)
    • Digital Short: Andy & Taran meet Gotye (“USED TO KNOW”!)
    • Delaware Fellas (Freddie Two-Shoes & The Hood Guy Pals!) Kristen Wiig as an Italian guy was funny.
    • Laser Cats by Steven Spielberg
    • Kristen Wiig’s “Ruby Tuesday” farewell

    Side Note: for some reason The Dictator with Martin Scorsese was cut from the Australian broadcast so I wish I could add that but I missed it. (and Kate Upton was also cut from Weekend Update too)

  18. Jason Mack says:

    I forgot my favourite
    • Top Gun auditions

  19. Jay says:

    There are so many! I put a few SNL vids from other seasons on my Video Brackets tournament, (This list would be perfect for a competition.)

    BTW – TV|LINE logo is awesome. Like the effect.

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