“SNL.” “Saturday Night Live.” A show that has given us so many memorable sketches and dealt us a fair share of duds — and lately, I have noticed it has been more duds than diamonds (with the exception of sketches like David S Pumpkins). In order to combat my disappointment, I have been rewatching old episodes of the late night show and have come to the conclusion that most of the past seasons of “SNL” have been significantly better than recent ones. Specifically, I have noticed that the seasons between 2006 and 2013 are the treasure troves of absolutely iconic and laugh-out-loud funny sketches.
When looking at who was in the cast during these years, it is no wonder that the sketches released during this time were pure gold. Seasons 31 through 38 starred notable individuals like Kristen Wiig, Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, Fred Armisen and many other now-famous comedians. Most of the sketches during these seasons were written by Seth Meyers, who was also hilarious as a cast member himself.
Determined to find some new (to me, at least) sketches that I can go back to after I get let down yet again following a new episode of “Saturday Night Live,” I scoured YouTube and Hulu to find what I, and many other “SNL” fans, believe to be the best sketches of this era and compiled a list of them below in no particular order.
This sketch came toward the beginning of the “SNL” Digital Short era and the many Andy Samberg and Lonely Island videos that would come out of them. While the sketch is pretty nonsensical and exaggerated, Samberg’s questioning of “the system” paired with the commitment to confuse other cast members in the short make for an unexpectedly humorous sketch that will be quoted in conversations for years to come. This sketch also features Ryan Reynolds and Elijah Wood, who both help in finishing the short out flawlessly.
2). “Bronx Beat”
Betty (played by Poehler) and Jodi (played by Maya Rudolph) are just your average moms from the Bronx who love to sit and lament about their lives and what’s going on in the world over a cup of joe. Poehler and Ruldolph successfully combine all of the stereotypes associated with New Yorkers into their characters and provide each of them with little quirks and taglines that make the characters memorable. Ruldolph’s Jodi always comes back with a hysterical “But I love him” after explaining her husband’s latest annoying act, and Poehler’s Betty always pulls her back on track. The over-the-top-ness of the sketch mixed with the comedic guest appearances make it easily one of the best sketches of the era.
A “Saturday Night Live” classic character played by the brilliant Bill Hader, Stefon is equal parts bizarre and completely humorous, which made for an enjoyable laugh-inducing segment any time he made an appearance on “Weekend Update.” Born out of real-life inspiration from individuals that “SNL” writer John Mulanely and Bill Hader knew, Stefon was a quirky New Yorker who always recommended places a little less expected than the typical tourist destinations, to say the least. In this particular “Weekend Update,” city correspondent Stefon suggests the best places to go to during the holiday season. This sketch is the perfect example of how Hader’s tendency to break character actually works well, especially when coupled with Seth Meyers’ dedication to listening to Stefon’s recommendations, no matter how absurd.
“The Californians” is kind of the cream of the crop when it comes to sketches during this era as most installments of this sketch include fan favorite cast members like Bill Hader, Fred Armisen and Kristen Wiig. The sketch is a caricature of the cheesy and overdramatized soap operas like “Days of our Lives” and “General Hospital.” Filled with exaggerated California accents, sound effects and close ups mixed with Armisten’s Stuart and Hader’s Devin fixating on each other’s driving routes. The sketch is purely hysterical. This particular episode in no exception, which has Bill Hader breaking character and the other cast members barely holding together, sending this sketch over the top.
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are a great comedic pair and can play off of each other well no matter what they are doing, but sometimes they are just a little bit more than perfect together and this sketch is a great example of that. Around the time of the 2008 election, Fey would often make appearances in the cold open or “Weekend Update” portraying Vice Presidential hopeful Sarah Palin. While her performances portraying the Alaskan resident are spot-on, it is when she was joined by Poehler playing former First Lady Hilary Clinton that she truly shines. The two portray the politicians flawlessly, and the performance is filled with several hilarious one-liners like, “I can see Russia from my house!” plus other witty quips that make for an amazingly funny sketch that stands the test of time.
Kristen Wiig is arguably one of the best women players in “Saturday Night Live” history, as she was quite a versatile cast member that truly rose to the occasion in every sketch. During her time at “Saturday Night Live,” Wiig had several recurring characters like misbehaved schoolgirl Gilly and one-upper Penelope, but many people remember her best for her performance in sketches such as the Target Lady. We’ve all encountered that cashier who likes to tell you a little more information than you needed to know. Wiig’s Target Lady is like every experience with one of those cashiers rolled into one. In this particular segment, Wiig’s banter is matched with Justin Timberlake’s character, Peg, which elevates the sketch to a whole other level, showing how easily Wiig was able to bounce off of other characters to make an even funnier performance.
While there have been some pretty stellar “Saturday Night Live” sketches recently, they have not all been anything spectacular, so it is nice to have some sketches to fall back on when you need a quick laugh.