10 Best 'Saturday Night Live' sketches of Fall 2014
It’s time to honor the ten best sketches of the 40th season of “Saturday Night Live” thus far. Let’s make two things clear: We’re only ranking sketches that actually aired on NBC, which eliminates several stellar online-only segments, and you could make an EXCELLENT list composed entirely of those merely getting “Honorable Mention”.
It’s been a strong Fall run for the show, and exclusion off the main list speaks to the high quality of the program overall rather than any shortcomings of those on the outside looking in.
What do you think of the list? Which sketches would you add and which would you take out?
Honorable MentionsPhoto Credit: NBC
“Marvel Trailer” (Chris Pratt), “Swiftamine” (Chris Rock), “Graveyard Song” (Jim Carrey), “Match’d” (Woody Harrelson), “Back Home Baller” (Cameron Diaz), “Nest-Spresso” (Cameron Diaz), “Overly Full Brain” (James Franco)
10. 'Holiday Gig' (Martin Freeman)Photo Credit: NBC
There should be room on any list like this for a personal favorite of the one compiling it, so we’re starting off with a sketch many might have already forgotten about. But it tells a complete (albeit bizarre) story start-to-finish, features more than a little creepy wig work, and showcases Kenan Thompson’s bizarre pronunciation of “boot.” I’ve hummed this song a lot more than “Back Home Baller,” itself too pale an imitation of “(Do It On My) Twin Bed” to really match up to the original, so it gets the nod here. Hate away!
9. 'Whites' (Sarah Silverman)Photo Credit: NBC
The show’s complicated relationship with the demographics of its own cast gets a fantastic twist here, as the changing face of both comedy and the culture at large gets celebrated rather than resisted in just over two minutes.
8. 'The Office: Middle Earth' (Martin Freeman)Photo Credit: NBC
Combining the two seems obvious in hindsight, but the specificity with which “SNL” executes this is fairly breathtaking. There are Easter eggs aplenty, which each successive viewing revealing a new wrinkle. Throw in Taran Killam’s for-the-ages Gollum, and you have a sketch that will stand out for some time to come.
7. 'Puppetry For Advanced Students' (Bill Hader)Photo Credit: NBC
Lightning struck twice here, as Hader’s return allowed for the second appearance of Anthony Coleman’s PTSD-laden soldier and another descent into the horrors of his past through the ostensible joy of puppetry. It’s dark (“Here’s a joke: God!”) but sidesplitting stuff, with the show pushing the envelope in ways it normally does not do.
6. 'Chandelier' (Jim Carrey)Photo Credit: NBC
Was this actually a “good” sketch? I honestly am unsure, but this was certainly one of the boldest in recent memory, with Carrey and Kate McKinnon busting through the fourth wall with reckless abandon and giving themselves completely over to the moment that was breathtaking and utterly engaging. This isn’t the type of thing the show can do all the time, which makes it all the more exciting when it can successfully pull it off.
5. Leslie Jones on 'Weekend Update' (Various)Photo Credit: NBC
This is a slight cheat, but there’s no way to leave off Jones’ contributions behind the “Update” desk this Fall. The combination of comedian and platform is perfect, and not only does she bring the house down each time she appears, but she also makes “Update” co-anchor Colin Jost a vital, original presence when she’s around. It’s a damn magic trick at this point, and it’s fantastic to behold each and every time.
4. 'Singing Sisters' (Amy Adams)Photo Credit: NBC
The conception? Bizarre. The execution? Near perfect. A sketch featuring old-timey talk and three raccoons magically transformed into lounge sisters sounds like the stuff of late-night writer’s room desperation, but in the hands of the show’s cast, the entire endeavor soars. The audiences KNOWS there’s a twist coming, but the sketch is funny long before that twist happens, and seems downright brilliant afterwards.
3. '39 Cents' (Bill Hader)Photo Credit: NBC
We’ve all seen these commercials. We’ve all wondered how those organizations came up with this number. But in hearing the members of this anonymous village question the organizations’ methodology, the walls quickly tumble down into blissful anarchy. It’s also a prime example of how the show’s diverse cast creates opportunities for diverse avenues of comedy, which the show has embraced throughout its Fall run and incorporated it into its overall comedic aesthetic in refreshing ways.
2. 'Wedding Objections' (Martin Freeman)Photo Credit: NBC
“Wedding,” along with several sketches both on this list and in the Honorable Mentions, represent the show’s re-invigorated emphasis on sketch writing that is independent of current pop culture. This sketch could have aired twenty-five years ago and still killed, because the fundamental premise is malleable enough to fit into any era. Bit after bit kills in this escalating disaster of a wedding, culminating with Kate McKinnon’s elderly woman compelled to come off the street and put an end to this couple’s impending nuptials. Sketch writing rarely gets any better than this.
1. 'High School Theater Show' (Cameron Diaz)Photo Credit: NBC
This high-wire act of a sketch could have been an absolute disaster if not executed correctly. But the combination of writing, directing, and acting yielded a small masterpiece here. The high school students are a marvel of pretention, and the dismayed reaction of their parents (Kenan Thompson, Vanessa Bayer) provide perfect counterpoint during the endless re-arrangment of boxes. More than anything else on the list, “Theatre Showcase” feels like a signature piece for this particular iteration of “Saturday Night Live,” and shows how this particular cast and crew contribute to the show’s overall comedic history.