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The 30 Best Skits Of All Time, Ranked

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Summary

  • Best SNL skits are timeless, from classic bits like “More Cowbell” to newer hits like “Papyrus.”
  • Iconic stars like Eddie Murphy and Mike Myers helped create unforgettable moments on SNL over the years.
  • With hilarious sketches like “Chippendale Audition” and “Natalie Raps,” SNL continues to push boundaries in comedy.

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With nearly 50 years on the air, the best Saturday Night Live skits of all time are a reminder of the show’s most iconic moments. The late-night sketch comedy series began in 1975 and has remained a huge part of pop culture ever since. Part of this is due to the big-name stars who have come out of the series, from Bill Murray to Eddie Murphy to Adam Sandler to Will Ferrell to Kristen Wiig. However, its real mark is shown through the best SNL skits that have made people laugh over the years.

With every new season of Saturday Night Live, there are new skits to add to the show’s long legacy and challenge for the best SNL skits of all time. While not every skit is an instant classic, there are some that provide the laughs and unforgettable moments that live on through the years. Some come from the early days of the series and helped establish the voice of the show, others showcased bold and new approaches with wild sketches, and others are fairly recent entries that have become a memorable part of SNL‘s long legacy.

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30 Spelling Bee

Season 31

Will Forte was never afraid to embrace his weirdest ideas in his skits which made for some hilarious moments. One of the most underrated and brilliant sketches to come from him is also one of the simplest ideas. Forte plays a man competing in a spelling bee and is asked to spell the word “business.” Right away, Forte’s quiet and unsure delivery begins to set the stage and hint that he is just not up for getting this word right.

After asking a variety of questions regarding the word, including if the judge could spell it for him, Forte makes his attempt. What follows is over a full minute of Forte throwing out random letters including about a dozen Qs in a row. It is a ridiculous idea that goes on just long enough to be hilarious.

29 Career Day

Season 43

Adam Driver is an amazing actor and Saturday Night Live host as evidenced by his memorable appearances on the show. While Driver’s skills are well-known by now, he fully commits himself to this hilarious sketch and delivers an astounding performance. Taking place during a high school career day, Driver plays the elderly father of Pete Davidson’s character, an oil baron who teaches the kids about the ruthlessness of his business.

The idea that this old man is one of the student’s father is a great setup but it becomes even funnier the more eccentric Driver’s character of Abraham H. Parnassus gets. It is a genuinely compelling performance that Driver gives as he screams at the top of his lungs as this outrageous and bombastic character who seems perfectly suited to become a recurring character for Driver.

28 Diner Lobster

Season 43

Years before John Mulaney’s standup comedy career really exploded, he was a writer on SNL. After becoming a big name outside of the show, he has become a frequent host and one of the best in recent years. This has also allowed him to bring back some of the past jokes he wrote that never made it onto the air, such as the strange and epic “Diner Lobster.”

The premise finds Pete Davidson as a clueless patron of a diner who orders a lobster which launches into a Les Misérables style musical production. Indeed, it is a strange concept but it works surprisingly well. The commitment of the cast to the grand musical numbers all set around such a silly idea really sells the sketch. It makes for a hugely entertaining set piece that has inspired several sequel sketches.

27 Cobras & Panthers

Season 22

Norm MacDonald was famously fired from Saturday Night Live for his controversial Weekend Update jokes, but he was also a gifted sketch artist with this overlooked gem showcasing MacDonald’s unique sense of humor. The premise follows a 1950s street gang with members who perform West Side Story-like musical numbers. However, MacDonald plays the one member who cannot understand why everyone is breaking out into song.

It is one of those ideas that seems so obvious as a comedic set up that it is a wonder no one had done it before. His bemused delivery of asking his fellow gang members “How’d you come up with a song so fast?” and questioning if they had choreographed all of this is a hilarious way of addressing the suspension of disbelief that goes along with all musicals.

26 CBS Evening News: Katie Couric Interviews Sarah Palin

Season 34

After leaving the show as its head writer in 2006, Tina Fey made several memorable guest spots on the show as Republican politician Sarah Palin. Palin became a media sensation as the surprise pick for John McCain’s running mate in the 2008 presidential race. The fact that Fey bore a striking resemblance to Palin and could pull off a hilarious impression of her set it up to be a hilarious surprise for audiences as Fey and Poehler did their own take on Palin’s infamous interview with Katie Couric.

Fey and Poehler have always had great chemistry in their various collaborations and it makes for a wonderful way for them to play off each other. The real interview itself made for great comedic fodder and this sketch helped open the door for some of the best political writing on SNL in recent memory. It is a laugh-out-loud segment that cemented Fey’s take on Palin as one of the best impressions on SNL.

25 HBO Mario Kart Trailer

Season 48

One thing about the best SNL skits is that the show is live, so the cast and crew can use current topics when creating its funniest moments. In season 48, The Last of Us was becoming one of the hottest HBO shows, a dark post-apocalyptic series based on a video game. The SNL sketch brought in The Last of Us star Pedro Pascal as the host, and he spoofed his own show by creating a fake trailer for HBO’s next dark video game adaptation, Mario Kart.

The idea of taking the bright, fun video game and giving it a dark real-world aesthetic was hilarious and one of the recent additions to the all-time best SNL skits. Pascal plays the brooding version of Mario very effectively with the plot of the fact video game series mirroring The Last of Us is a surprisingly easy way.

24 A Christmas Carol

Season 48

Only Murders in the Building reminded the world of why Martin Short and Steve Martin are one of the best comedy duos in history. They are also veterans of the SNL star with Short as a former performer and Martin as one of the most legendary hosts in the show’s long history. Having them appear together in a Christmas sketch is great fun, especially as it takes such a dark turn.

Short plays Scrooge in an adaptation of A Christmas Carol, after he wakes up from his ghostly visits as a changed man. Wanting to spread his wealth to the needy folks of the town, he throws money down to the people below but only succeeds in creating a gory mess. Martin appears as one of the ghosts who attempts to help, only to similarly start accidentally killing people. It is a darkly comedic sketch with the show pushing the boundaries of violence.

23 Simon: Summer Drawings

Seasons 16-19

Mike Myers has some of the most iconic of the best SNL skits, from Wayne’s World to minimalist artist Dieter. However, one of his best is also one of the darkest characters ever to appear on Saturday Night Live. Myers plays Simon, a British child who sits in his bathtub and shares his drawings with the audience. There were five skits in this run, and he is often sharing things that are truly horrific, but at his age, he is too innocent to understand the trauma he lives through.

Many of Myers’ most memorable skits on the show have and charming and endearing manner to them so it is a lot of fun to see him playing around with darker material than what audiences are used to. With lines like “cheeky monkey,” it is memorable but is also disturbing in many ways.

22 The Blues Brothers

Debuted In 1978

Most fans know The Blues Brothers from the movie that spun off of the SNL skit. However, its legacy on the show is one of the most popular of all time while also showing the versatility of SNL when it comes to the different forms of entertainment they share. In the skit, Dan Akyroyd and John Belushi were a little different than what fans saw in the movie.

While the movie saw the two on an adventure to save the orphanage that raised them, the SNL skits were all about Akyroyd and Belushi performing their songs in their high-energy acts. The first-ever appearance was in 1978 and was simply a way for the duo to show their love of blues music. Later, John Goodman joined up and there have been many appearances by the band with different real-life soul musicians since their first appearance.

21 The Church Lady

Debuted In 1986

So many people just remember Dana Carvey from his role in Wayne’s World skits. However, he has another major addition to the best SNL skits of all time with his portrayal of The Church Lady in her show, Church Chat. In an era where televangelists ruled the airwaves, Carvey took on the role of preaching to the masses in the most condescending way possible.

Carvey perfectly honed the performance as this uptight and self-righteous character. It is impressive that he was able to create a character that was so detestable but was still fun to laugh at. Between talking down to everyone to insulting fornicators and sinners in the world of entertainment and politics. With lines including “could it be Satan?” this was one of the most quotable skits ever to show up on SNL.

20 Farewell, Mr. Bunting

Season 41

As a relatively new skit, “Farwell Mr. Bunting” is sure to go down as one of the biggest laughs in the best SNL skits in history. The skit initially feels like a rather faithful recreation of the iconic scene from Dead Poet’s Society where the inspiring teacher (played by Fred Armisen) is fired and the students all stand on their desks and pay tribute to him. The skit is very patient in making the audience wait for the big moment. Finally, one student stands up on the desk and is immediately decapitated by the ceiling fan.

It seems clear that Martin Short and Steve Martin’s hilarious A Christmas Carol skit was inspired by this one. However, “Farewell Mr. Bunting” is superior because of how expertly it builds to that moment that was hard to see coming. The uproarious reaction from the studio audience makes it all the more enjoyable. The shock of the moment mixed with the bloody chaos that follows is unforgettable.

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19 The Roxbury Guys

Debuted In 1996

Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan’s recurring skit as the Roxbury Guys is a great example of how such a simple premise can be used so effectively thanks to memorable performers. The setup follows these two obnoxious and oblivious guys going out to dance clubs and unsuccessfully trying to dance with girls. Their aggressive dance moves and obvious desperation are matched only by their clueless delusions that they are actually cool.

The skit was featured countless times with the likes of Tom Hanks and Alec Baldwin joining the skit as well as one instance when Sylvester Stallone hosted and played Rocky Balboa going clubbing with these guys. However, the most memorable was likely when Ferrell and Kattan were joined by Jim Carrey who fit into the absurdity of the skit perfectly, elevating it and stealing the show.

18 Black Jeopardy

Recurring Sketch

While there is another Jeopardy-themed skit on SNL that is likely more iconic to fans, “Black Jeopardy” has become one of the funniest and most clever recurring SNL skits in recent years. The skit depicts a game of Jeopardy aimed at Black American contestants with one of the contestants inevitably feeling out of place. The questions in the game show are aimed at stereotypes but used in very smart ways to comment on the different aspects of race.

One installment of the skit features Chadwick Boseman’s appearance as T’Challa who highlights the differences in Wakanda culture and African-American culture. Russell Crowe appears in another skit as a professor of African American studies who is out of his element. Perhaps the best entry features Tom Hanks playing a white conservative who proves to have more in common with African Americans than expected.

17 Debbie Downer

Debuted In 2004

What is interesting about the Debbie Downer skit is that it became famous for how wrong it all went. Rachel Dratch stars in the skit as the titular character, a pessimistic woman who cannot help but bring down the mood of whatever happy occasion she is a part of. The first time the skit aired, showing Debbie ruining a family trip to Disneyworld, it devolved into the entire cast breaking character and unable to say their lines through all their laughter. Needless to say, the audience loved it.

The skit continued on since then with Debbie ruining everything from Thanksgiving dinner to wedding receptions. The other skits proved that the character was a fun creation with Dratch delivering a hilarious performance in the role. However, it never matched the hilarious mayhem that came from that first skit which has become an iconic moment in the long-running series.

16 Harry Caray

Debuted In 1996

Will Ferrell is regarded as one of the best SNL cast members of all time and Harry Caray is surely one of his best characters. Based on the real-life baseball announcer, Ferrell does a ridiculous impression of the man and has him providing his perspectives on anything not baseball-related. Harry’s disheveled appearance, his unique voice, and his general detachment from the world around him make it an endlessly enjoyable recurring bit that is simply a showcase for Ferrell’s comedic brilliance.

Ferrell’s best use of his Harry Caray role came in a skit in which Caray was hosting a show about space and interviewing Jeff Goldblum’s astronomist character. However, he quickly goes off-topic, commenting on how the moon isn’t made of cheese but then asks, “But what if it were made of barbecue spare ribs, would you eat it then?

15 Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood

Debuted In 1981

One of the most famous actors to come from Saturday Night Live is Eddie Murphy. The actor appeared in 65 episodes of SNL, but likely his most iconic moments from the show come from the skits “Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood.” The skit parodied the famous show Mister Roger’s Neighborhood starring Fred Rogers. Instead of teaching children life lessons, Mr. Robinson was a criminal who often taught children about illegal things like shoplifting.

Mr. Robinson was a character who appeared several different times on the show, but the time he taught kids about nutrition was one of the best SNL skits of all time. Murphy gives a hilarious performance in the role, imbuing it with the sweet charm of Fred Rogers but talking about things that children would never hear Rogers say on his show. Murphy reprised the role decades later when he returned to host in 2020 and showed that he never lost a step.

14 NPR’s Delicious Dish: Schweddy Balls

Season 24

There are plenty of iconic SNL Christmas skits that fans return to each year for the holiday season. However, this is surely one of the most iconic yuletide bit of comedy the show produced with a simple parody of a typical National Public Radio show. In one episode, Jo McCullen (Ana Gasteyer) and Terry Rialto (Molly Shannon) hosted a segment on the air called Delicious Dish and had a guest star on the show named Pete Schweddy. Frequent SNL host Alec Baldwin played Mr. Schweddy the owner of a business called Seasons Eatings and his most famous product was a holiday dessert called Schweddy Balls.

The skit was full of double entendres mainly about Pete’s balls. Many comedians today wouldn’t have been able to keep their composure, but all three of the actors in the skit did perfectly with none of the characters picking up on the suggestive ways they are describing these Christmas treats.

13 MacGruber

Debuted in 2007

Will Forte appeared in 156 episodes starting in 2002 and MacGruber was one of his most famous characters. MacGruber was obviously a parody of the famous 80s show MacGyver. While MacGyver was always able to get himself out of a tight space due to his scientific resourcefulness, MacGruber has similar skills but always gets distracted and ends up blowing himself up.

Unique for SNL skits, the MacGruber sketches keep coming back throughout an episode, with each installment adding onto the story that was created. This includes instances of MacGruber having to attend sensitivity training for an inappropriate joke, becoming addicted to plastic surgery, and losing all of his money. These skits were so well received that the character was given his own film in 2010, starring Forte and Kristen Wiig. While it is hard to pick the best MacGruber skit of them all, the one with Jonah Hill revolving around an embarrassing workplace rumor stands out.

12 Two Wild & Crazy Guys

Debuted In 1977

Two of the most popular Saturday Night Live actors of the 70s were performer Dan Aykroyd and frequent host Steve Martin. Both actors went on to have massively successful acting careers, but some of their funniest material came from SNL. One skit the two actors were in together was “Two Wild & Crazy Guys” which was about two Czech-born brothers named York and Georg Festrunk.

The brothers were always looking to pick up some ladies, but the swingers weren’t always successful with women. The skit feels like a precursor to the Roxbury skits with Akroyd and Martin creating very specific and fun characters. Their way of talking and the funny dance-like walk made them endlessly fun to watch. The characters appeared multiple times on the show, most recently in 2013 when Justin Timberlake hosted the show.

11 Celebrity Jeopardy!

Recurring Sketch

“Celebrity Jeopardy” is one Saturday Night Live skit that has appeared in several episodes. Jeopardy! is a perfect show for SNL to parody since it allows the cast members to impersonate several celebrities. The show has always had many gifted impersonators as well as several hosts who have pulled out impressive impersonations. This skit gives an ideal platform as it features three dim-witted celebrities competing on Jeopardy much to the frustration of Will Ferrell’s Alex Trebek.

The skit started in 1996, but one of the best SNL skits came in 1999 in the show’s 25th season. This skit included some of SNL‘s best celebrity impersonations including French Stewart (Jimmy Fallon), Sean Connery (Darrell Hammond), and Burt Reynolds (Norm MacDonald). With Connery frequently insulting Trebek’s mother and Reynolds insisting he be referred to as Turd Ferguson, it is one big laugh after another.