This list includes sketches & a few Weekend Update segments that were, in my own opinion, 15 of the strongest highlights of the the first half SNL’s strong 40th season. I’m not going in any particular order this time around – after much toiling, here are 15 things that made me laugh, got me interested in the construction of the writing, or made me laugh really hard.
So, here we go!
1. Puppet Class (Bill Hader, Killam, Strong, Moynihan)
Anthony Peter Coleman may be one of Bill Hader’s best characters ever to air (or one of the best characters, period). I hope he hosts again sometimes and gives us a third installment.
2. Back Home Ballers (Diaz, Zamata, McKinnon, Strong, Diaz, Jones, Bayer)
This one is a pretty good representation of how well done and fun the song sketches have been this fall. Anytime you get all the ladies of SNL together with some good material, you’ll never be disappointed. Finally: Bowls, bowls, all type of bowls…
3. Weekend Update: Cheer Up, Obama (Jost, Che, Thompson)
This was the first sign that the new Update team of Che & Jost could be pretty great together. Not sure if anyone still thinks about this segment, but I hope it cheered up our President.
4. Bad Boys (Pratt, Bennett, Mooney)
Everything about this is pure genius. I’d be okay with a Mooney/Bennett early 90s sitcom knock-off every week in 2015. A little kid peer-pressures Chris Pratt into stealing Beck Bennett’s ball with a gun so they can play in the house for 4 seconds…what’s not to like about this?
5. Match’d (Harrelson, Strong, Bennett, Mooney, Killam)
Great sketch writing example #1. I will laugh at this every time I see it. Also, everything about these executions are perfect. Cecily Strong is a perfect MTV voice/personality, and the reactions of each guy when Woody Harrelson’s host drops the bomb is solid.
6. Kid Mayor (Franco)
This is here because of how hard I laughed. I’m nearly ashamed of how much I laughed at this. Also, because its’ motives are just plain funny.
7. 39 Cents (Hader, Pharoah, Thompson, Zamata, Jones)
Great example of good sketch writing #2. (I believe Michael Che wrote this?) I should’ve scored it higher on my scorecard, but it makes such a good point…why 39 cents? Seriously? Anyway, this is a good ‘evergreen sketch’ in that it brings an original idea to the table and could be enjoyed later on as a classic.
8. Weekend Update: Leslie Jones (Jones, Jost)
Literally any time Leslie Jones is on Update is a true gift. I’m posting this one because Harriet Tubman. But seriously, she brings such life to the Update desk (and the show in general) and has been such a breath of fresh air in the world of comedy. It’s only a matter of time before she’s a big star. Finally, I’d watch a half-hour comedy show of Leslie flirting with Colin Jost.
9. Sump’n Claus (Thompson, Zamata, Strong, Moynihan, Freeman, Bayer, Mooney, Bennett, Bryant, Davidson, Pharoah)
I am STILL going around with this song in my head.
10. Grow-a-Guy (O’Brien, Franco, Bennett, Zamata, Bayer, Davidson)
Mike O’Brien is without a doubt the most interesting SNL writer right now. He has this unique gift for making a mini-story that combines genuine sincerity & meekness with comedy and “what in God’s name am I looking at???” This is a prime example, as well as Monster Pals & Dragon Babies from last spring. Also, He and James Franco make a nice duo in these.
11. Wedding Objections (Freeman, Jones, Bennett, Bryant, Bayer, Thompson, Killam, Strong, McKinnon)
Another great piece of sketch writing that could have aired whenever. Everyone delivering their objections is great in this, immediately jumping to the absurdity of this couple being together (especially Vanessa Bayer). The sketch nearly jumps into 3rd gear when Kate McKinnon’s Evelyn stops by to SHUT IT DOWN.
12. Lincoln Ads (Carrey, Thompson)
Jim Carrey solves the question of “yeah, why did this need to happen?”
13. Church (Moynihan, Davidson, Pharaoh, McKinnon, Bryant, Mooney, Strong, Bennett, Killam, Jones)
All of this is true.
14. Weekend Update: Pete Davidson (Che, Davidson)
Pete Davidson has done a few ‘Resident Young Person’ appearances, and I believe his first one may have been the best so far. It didn’t even really matter what he was talking about – his charm and grin won over the crowd so quickly that everyone just wanted to see more of this guy. This could be why we started seeing him star shortly thereafter in a few pre-taped segments. But this has been some of his best stuff this fall.
15. High School Theater Show (Diaz, Bryant, Killam, Bennett, Mooney, McKinnon, Thompson, Bayer)
Truly one of the best pieces of sketch writing this fall – maybe the best. This sketch was also entirely dependent on timing with each line, movement of boxes, choreography, etc. and it hit everything dead on. It’s so great when a live sketch can be this succinct and funny and great to look at. Plus, everything is true about this. I’ve been Kenan Thompson/Vanessa Bayer in the audience looking at these. 100%.
Can’t wait to see more of what SNL40 brings!