SNL's 40th Anniversary Special: The Best and Worst Moments

SNL 40th Anniversary

Forty is the new funny.

That could’ve been the ideal tagline for the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special (held, interestingly enough, on this Sunday evening).

There were moments of inarguable hilarity — Darrell Hammond’s Sean Connery impression, Will Ferrell and Ana Gasteyer’s musical duo — and, as is SNL‘s tradition, more than a couple of missteps, too.

We’ve compiled our picks for the telecast’s Best and Worst moments — with big thumbs up for Miley Cyrus (we’re being serious) and a Debbie Downer womp-womp for Eddie Murphy.

So “Clucky” through the gallery below for our take, then hit the comments with your most- and least-fave moments, and any highlight you think we might’ve snubbed!

 

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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101 Comments
  1. Stacie says:

    As with many SNL skits that run longer than they should, the SNL 40 was probably about 30 minutes too long, but I get that they wanted to fit everything, and that they did. There were probably 15-20 other classic skits that could have been revamped for 2015, but they did a fine job with getting a ton in. Sure the Californians didn’t do much, but they got a lot of the actors into this one scene, so that was probably the intent behind it. I would have loved a Cheerleaders skit, or Coneheads, or Coffee Talk and so many more but I enjoyed the show, even though it had a little too much Kanye (who actually was a decent sport tonight)

  2. Kitty says:

    The worst part was finding out who the Feb 28 host is :/

  3. kewe88m says:

    How come Chris Kattan, the guy who played Mango, didn’t show up on SNL?

  4. Patrick says:

    Agreed with every thing. Garth and Kitt? Why. That was a one time thing that should never have been repeated. Ditto the Californians. But I never liked Armisen, and I disliked the vast majority of skits built around Wiig (though in supporting roles she was sublime). Overall it was great. But the Waynes World bit felt forced.
    .
    ps, Kanye was a real trooper tonight. When he makes fun of himself, or at least allows others to do it for him, his top flight talent really shines through. Kanye, don’t take yourself so seriously.
    .
    Also, yeah, the Eddie Murphy bit was tiny. As the show went on I wondered why there weren’t that many clips of his genius bits, and when I saw his live bit I understood. There must be some bad blood there.

  5. Tran says:

    Wasn’t Dennis Miller a no-show at SNL’s 40th anniversary special?

  6. Lauren says:

    Where was my NSYNC reunion?!?!?

  7. Cassie May says:

    It would have been far funnier if Paul Simon had sung his song wearing the turkey costume he wore when he originally sang that song on SNL in the 70s. And, where was Dennis Miller? He was, by far, the best Update host. Finally, does Kanye have to insert himself into everything? “#5 Kanye, sit down” was great.

  8. anonymous says:

    Weren’t NSync and the Backstreet Boys supposed to be on? Did I miss something?

  9. David4 says:

    Jane Curtin is still beautiful and funny. She should do Weekend Update whenever she wants / is in town.

  10. Tom says:

    Worst was The Californians and everything Kanye except his Wayne’s World stuff, best was easily, hands down, Celebrity Jeopardy

    • maggie says:

      The Californians was always horrible. The only good part was the kiss between Betty White and Bradley Cooper. Betty’s still got it.

    • Lynn Cee says:

      Yikes; if Celebrity Jeopardy was the best bit, so glad I hit the ‘power off’ toggle and rescued my evening when Sir Paul wound into an excruciating rendition of “Baby I’m Amazed.”

  11. Jenna says:

    Gilda Radner is still my all time fav. :(
    I thought the In Memoriam was well done.

  12. Justin Timberlake and Fallon opening the show was awful. All that talent they could have tapped to make something historically funny, and they had an unfunny hack pop star and the guy who ruined the Tonight Show come out and quote other people’s best lines like stoned college freshmen. And it went downhill from there with Kanye and worse. The whole special remained me just how far the quality has dropped over the years, and why they should just give it a proper and dignified death.

    • Emily says:

      Seriously? I thought their opening was appropriate for the event.

      It was leaps and bounds better than the always terrible Californians and Garth and Kat. I kinda wish Kristen Wiig had been off filming a movie and couldn’t have made it. That was PAINFUL. Thank goodness Betty White saved it.

    • Lynn Cee says:

      Couldn’t agree with you more, “Saucy Intruder.” The SNL 40th never hit lift-off like it could have and should have.

    • Lynn Cee says:

      Way too much hackneyed bubble gum and too self-consciously cute by half; not enough glints of the old comic genius.
      From a “T.O.” girl in Silicon Valley, circa ’70’s Second City.
      *

  13. Tricia says:

    You guys have never liked The Californians, have you?

    And no matter how you feel and Cat and Garth, I should hope all tv fans got a little enjoyment out of seeing Chris Lowell (aka Piz from Veronica Mars) sitting behind them.

    One of my personal highlights was Martin Short getting blown away by Bey’s wind machine.

    • Drewer says:

      I’m glad I am not the only one who realized Chris Lowell was there, I have no idea why he was invited, but I’m dying to know-and as someone who loths Garth and Kath, he did brighten up that moment. I personally thought The Californians was a highlight, it brought a bunch of people in together, it’s one of the few established sketches where you can shoehorn in a host of people and I always laugh at it.

  14. Eddie Roberts says:

    This was an tremendous fail , all the great skits that Eddie Murphy did on that show and NO clips ? Ridiculous, crazy , and unforgivable!!! Goodbye old friend (snl) , rest in peace. ….

    • Lynn Cee says:

      Absolutely! So much real comic genius junked for a hackneyed cavalcade kind of presentation that seemed to be aiming for cute sentimentality.
      SNL/Michael’s/NBC have a tremendous war chest to choose from. Way too much NBC grandstanding from an all too familiar lineup of insiders and their pals.
      Big Sunday night yawn.

      • Lynn Cee says:

        It’s too late … the show just ended in the PT zone. So, another CORRECTION: Make that, SNL/Michaels/NBC …
        Agree with a previous comment: it was a long slog of a 40th anniversary special. Too linear and they weed-whacked a lot of brilliance.
        Lots of primetime for “the two Pauls,” which would have left a lot of fans under 45 underwhelmed.

        • John says:

          I think “the two Pauls” got a lot of airtime because, sadly, they may not be around for the next big anniversary (45th or 50th)…or, at the very least, no longer be performing. That goes for the original cast, too (Chevy didn’t look too well, IMHO). This was probably the last big blowout in terms of anniversary celebrations where they can get as many “legends” together all at once…especially folks from the ’70s when the show started.

          • MC says:

            Somebody gets what they were doing. Sometimes sentimentality is appropriate and those who remember the early seasons probably enjoyed the majority of this special. Paul Simon made a huge impact on SNL during those years. Miley’s rendition of “Fifty Ways” cannot be fully appreciated without truly understanding Paul’s contributions to music.

  15. Lynn Cee says:

    Whoops, mea culpa: make that, “Maybe I’m Amazed.” …

  16. Amber says:

    The Breaks digital short was the best part! The going after Fallon and Sanz was hysterical. The Californians was ridiculous as usual but Betty White sure must have been one happy woman lol. The Eddie Murphy bit was weird as was the Chevy Chase. Parts of it felt like it wasn’t rehearsed much, which I guess was hard for them with so many people. Kanye was funny during the Wayne’s world skit, he was actually smiling. I enjoyed the show. And OMG Jon Lovitz lol

  17. Amber says:

    Oh the worst part was definitely Miley. WHY was she there??? She sounded horrible. Seriously, I could sound better than that and I have strep throat

  18. Tran says:

    BTW, Jon Lovitz is NOT dead.

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  20. liame says:

    SNL still doesn’t have a clue about entertaining a crowd.

  21. Chris says:

    How come Julia Louise-Dreyfus was a no-show? I know she had mixed feelings about her time at SNL, but she was the first former female cast member to come back twice to the show a few years ago!

  22. padraicjacob says:

    why was Cecily strong left out of the weekend update host montage? It seemed weird not to include her as an anchor, but to show her as “the girl at a party…,”

    • dan says:

      I noticed that also. And why wasn’t Shasheer Zamata’s name in the opening credits? She should’ve been last, right after Betty White. She was in the music skit singing background for Keenan’s character. I thought both the Eddie Murphy and Chevy Chase appearances were awkward, and I agree that Weekend Update was too short. Didn’t love the opening with Fallon and JT. Celebrity Jeopardy was fun.

  23. Erock says:

    Absolutely an evening I’ll never get back. I grew up on this show and have watched it deteriorate over the last several decades and this was the crowning glory. No longer relevant of funny it’s a sad, pathetic shell of what it once was. End it now before it becomes completely unwatchable.

  24. lovestevemartin says:

    I thought this was a good show. They managed to fit most of the best parts in and gave as many people they could a part to play. Paul McCartney was just terrible, in fact with the exception of Paul Simon at the end, I could have done without the musical numbers. I haven’t watched for years, and I know it’s gone downhill, but it was nice to bring back fond memories of its glory days!

  25. Karen MT says:

    I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the callback to favorite characters and sketches. The musical montage had me squealing, as did Weekend Update. “No no, don’t answer the door. It’s always a shark.” The Californians was a miss for me until Betty White, and I muted the tv during Kanye’s musical number. I knew it wouldn’t be perfect, and 3.5 hours is too short to fit in everything I’d like to see, but it was a valiant attempt.

    • Kim R says:

      Agreed. I also loved the Jon Lovitz moments and thought it was a perfect SNL end to the memoriam segment. I’m not sure why Kanye was there and also muted his performance which looked REALLY weird. Is it just me or are people stretching the meaning of the word “art”?? It could just be me because I don’t get the little girl in the beige leotard dancing around either. :) All in all, I enjoyed the show and was very glad I could zip through the commercials!

  26. Glen says:

    I stopped watching when Tina Few and Amy Poehler….those two were absolutely awful….will be looking to catch this when it gets rerun though as it’s been a while.

  27. Nadine says:

    I thought Sir Paul’s performance was heart-felt and appropriate. I was moved. SNL 40 did a good job at balancing nostalgia and humor.

  28. Diz says:

    Overall I thought it was pretty good. I maybe watch SNL once or twice a year now, but I give the 40th a thumbs up.

  29. Nancy says:

    I loved Martin Short! He was as lively, and funny, as ever. You could definitely tell that the old SNL’s were the funniest and where most of the talent came from. The Californians skit was awful and when Kanye had his “turn”, we turned the channel :)

  30. Josh says:

    It was weird and kind of a giant miss to not have a big political sketch. They had a Bill(Daryl Hammond), Hillary(Amy Poehler), Obama(Jay Paroh), Michelle(Maya Rudolph) Mitt(Jason Sedakis), Sarah(Tina Fey), Monica Lewinsky(Molly Shannon, and John Goodman for a bonus Linda Tripp), Two Bushes(Dana Carvey and Will Ferrell) and they didn’t do a big political sketch? Cut the Kayne song. Cut the Californians in half…But it seems like a giant miss.

    • dan says:

      I also expected a political skit with all/most of those listed above. And why didn’t Dana Carvey do The Church Lady? They showed a quick clip of her, but I thought for sure they’d do something live. I guess they decided to do Wayne’s World with Dana so The Church Lady would’ve been too much of him (I didn’t need to see him singing the stupid broccoli song).

  31. Lynne says:

    I wasnt even a thought in my parents’ minds when SNL started in the 70s, so it was really fun to see older sketches, the BassOMatic made me queesy.
    One thing I was hoping for was more with Weekend Update. With so many previous anchors there, wouldve been awesome to see them all together. Maybe each of them thinking they were going to do Update by themselves (or with their respective co-anchor), and seeing the others and going into a complete battle royale to see who won and finish Update with Breaking News: Former Weekend Update anchors all dead by (outrageous means).

    • bea says:

      I mostly watched for some of Eddie Murphy’s skits. And was very disappointed when there were none. Chris Rock was right with everything he said about Eddie, he is a true genius! Milie was good but I’m sick of Kayne so I changed chanels. Overall a good program. Would have been a Great one with Murphy skits#

  32. Lachlan McIntosh says:

    I was surprised there was no compilation of the great musical guests that have been featured over the years. On the other hand no one today seems to know what good music is so maybe I’m not so surprised. Also feel Fred Armisen was featured too much…one time would have been too much.

  33. Nana3 says:

    Okay where was the Coneheads skit and Father Guido Sarducci. They left out alot of great skits and there were tons of no shows. Miley and Kayne had no business being there.

  34. Joel says:

    Last night my wife went and saw 50 Shades of Grey at the movies. We recorded this to watch together afterwards. It was so disappointing she fell asleep and I missed out on the biggest sure thing of the year. So I’m realllyyyy not happy with this special…..
    I was hoping for reenactments of classic sketches, with the myriad of celebrities playing the roles originally played by the host of the week/cast members that weren’t there. Maybe full clips of old sketches. But the continual montage of punchlines and lines from sketches that I’ve never seen was rather disappointing. I may be the only one who felt this, and I love SNL so I’m quite ok if I am, and everyone else loved it, but it felt like I had shown up to a party that I wasn’t invited to, and no one cared whether I was there or not, they just continued with their own thing.

  35. evbuah says:

    Was that Stevie Nicks in The Californians? I wanted to see Chevy and Bill Murray shake hands or finally duke it out. Preferably the duking. Lol!

  36. joe says:

    paul mccartney and paul simon have got to give it up!!!their voices sounded like any 80 yeard old singing….very sad…so deperate to hold on to former glory

  37. Mine says:

    I would have LOVED it if one of the other musical guests jumped onto the stage and started playing music while Kanye was in the middle of “performing.” (Beck or Taylor Swift maybe? Ooh, or maybe even Beyoncé herself?!?!?)

    That would have been perfect SNL poetic justice!

  38. Ethel says:

    The Jeopardy skits have always been my favorites and this did not disappoint. Justin Bieber was well, so Justin Bieber.

  39. Robert Hunter says:

    Sorry, but the “clips” were annoying and took waaaay to much time. An hour of Bill Hader as Stefon would have been much funnier. The only new skit that was really funny was the Family Fued. ( was it live?) I stopped watching after the second montage of clips.Very annoying. If you did not see them the first time the clips were a waste of time. If you did see them originally it would have been better to have shown some of the best in their entirety.

  40. Justin Burnell says:

    Reblogged this on THB Files and commented:
    Some of them could be best or some of could be worst. My favorite part was Bradley Cooper and Betty White’s appearance. Hilarious.

  41. Jim hutton says:

    Was that Stevie Nicks on the Californians skit?

  42. Ed says:

    RIP Jon Lovitz…only SNL to recognize the loss of a comedic legend!

    loved the running gag!

  43. cyclone says:

    I could’ve watched Tina, Amy, and Jane do a real Weekend Update segment they could have used the time Jerry Seinfeld wasted with his unfunny Q&A bit. And it would have been the best Update in a while since both Colin Jost and Michael Che are sub par at best. Adding Melissa McCarthy as Matt Foley and Emma Stone as Roseanne Roseannadanna weren’t too bad but Edward Norton did not do Stefon justice at all.

    Also, yeah Kanye like brought the mood to a WTF stop.

  44. Hattie says:

    I had mixed feelings on the show. I loved seeing Jane Curtin with Amy and Tina, but the weekend update bit was too short. I would rather have had more Jane, Amy and Tina than the weak impersonations by Emma Stone et al. The only entertaining impersonation was the Stefon bit and only because Bill Hader came to Ed Norton’s rescue. Celebrity Jeopardy was great. I loved the nods to SNL’s early years – Garrett Morris reading for the hearing impaired, the Bass-o-matic and the Shark. I would’ve liked to have seen more skits by Gilda Radner though. She was always my fave. The biggest flops were Jimmy and Justin’s opening (it could’ve been so funny), Eddie Murphy’s ego trip, the random celebrity appearances (why waste time on De Niro, Nicholson), and the Californians (utterly stupid and unfunny). I enjoyed the musical acts except for Paul McCartney. He earned the right to be there, but his performance was awful. I actually loved the performances by Kanye and Miley, even though I’m not sure why they were there.

  45. evbuah says:

    Could have definitely used more Dana Carvy. Even if they were flashbacks. IMO one of the greatest SNL players of all time