It’s hard to choose exactly what are the absolutely funniest sketches featuring the most iconic SNL actors, but we tried anyway. The following are some of our all-time favorite Saturday Night Live bits starring our favorite cast members.
Fred Armisen (The Californians: Stuart Has Cancer)
Fred Armisen’s specialty on SNL is accents — the funniest of which would have to be his thick West Coast affectation when playing Stuart in “The Californians.” Fun fact about Season 37’s first edition of the soap opera parody that Hader revealed to Seth Meyers: he and Kristen Wiig did not anticipate Armisen’s cartoonish over-pronunciation, resulting in their sketch-enhancing, uncontrollable laughter.
Dan Aykroyd (Two Wild And Crazy Guys: Double Date)
While very much a legend on his own, Dan Aykroyd was always at his best as part of a duo, such as with he and John Belushi’s The Blues Brothers appearances or with this sketch also starring the, arguably, all-time greatest SNL host, Steve Martin. They play the Festrunk Brothers (a.k.a., “two wild and crazy guys!”) — a pair of Czechoslovakian swingers whose overly animated enthusiasm (especially when it comes to the ladies) and distinctly funky walk hits a peak of hilarity with this Season 3 sketch.
John Belushi (The Olympia Restaurant: Cheeseburger, Chips And Pepsi)
It’s clear why Rolling Stone’s SNL actors ranking put John Belushi at Number One: the man could make anything and everything irresistibly hilarious. Take, for example, the Season 3 classic, “The Olympia Restaurant,” in which the late Blues Brothers star makes the simple repetition of the word “cheeseburger” (pronounced “cheeburger”) a healthy meal of comedy gold.
Dana Carvey (Church Chat)
Out of his many hilarious SNL characters, Dana Carvey’s most iconic has to be Enid “The Church Lady” Strict, who has been brought back several times, but made her first appearance in this Season 12 classic. She spends the entirety of her talk show, “Church Chat,” baselessly accusing her guest of worshipping Satan, until finally finding demonic proof when host Sigourney Weaver reprises her Ghostbusters role as Dana Barrett possessed by Zuul.
Chevy Chase (Landshark)
Before fusing apex marine predators with natural disasters was the ultimate way of parodying shark movies, there was this sketch from the show’s first year that imagined a Jaws sequel in which the beastly antagonist can survive out of water. While we never actually see the iconic one-season SNL actor, it was Chevy Chase who provided the Landshark’s gawky voice and even wore the iconic costume.
Billy Crystal (Do You Know What I Hate?: Night Watchmen)
When he joined SNL in Season 10, Billy Crystal was already well on his way to becoming a top comedy icon, as was This is Spinal Tap’s Christopher Guest — his co-star in their second time playing Willie and Frankie. While working as security guards, the duo nonchalantly trade stories of their absurd experiences with self-mutilation as if it was some common inconvenience.
Jane Curtin (Coneheads: IRS)
We might say that Jane Curtin is one of the Not-Ready-For-Primetime Players’ unsung heroes, not receiving quite enough credit for her chameleonic comedic talents. Case in point: the way she disappears into the role of extra-terrestrial wife and mother, Prymatt, in the “Coneheads” sketches — the funniest of which might be the second edition from Season 2 featuring Steven Martin as an IRS auditor bewildered by their cultural inequalities.
Jimmy Fallon (Barry Gibb Talk Show)
Choosing Jimmy Fallon’s best SNL sketch means choosing the best Jimmy Fallon/Justin Timberlake sketch and, to us, it’s the “Barry Gibb Talk Show.” We especially love this Season 30 edition of Fallon and Timberlake as Bee Gees members Barry and Robin Gibb, Cameron Diaz as Nancy Pelosi, Horatio Sanz as Bill Richardson, and a special appearance by Drew Barrymore as Ann Coulter.
Chris Farley (Matt Foley: Van Down By The River)
While he was still with us, Chris Farley had more energy and showed more fearlessness on stage than just about any other ’90s-era SNL cast member, and nothing defines this better than his performance as Matt Foley. The cantankerous motivational speaker immediately became an icon when he falls onto a table and smashes it to pieces, which, legend has it, was an accident on Farley’s part.
Will Ferrell (More Cowbell)
A lot of people like to reference Bruce Dickinson’s (host Christopher Walken) effortlessly hilarious pronunciation of “cowbell” as what makes this imaginary dramatization of Blue Oyster Cult recording “Don’t Fear the Reaper” a classic. As far as we are concerned, the Season 25 favorite would not be as memorable without Will Ferrell gyrating around the studio to help cure Bruce of his fever with “more cowbell.”
Tina Fey (Sarah Palin And Hillary Address the Nation)
In one of SNL’s all-time best cold opens, Tina Fey reprises her spot-on impersonation of Gov. Sarah Palin alongside Amy Poehler’s Sen. Hillary Clinton in response to the former winning the 2008 Vice Presidential nomination. This is much to the latter’s dismay, as it's clear by Clinton’s visible struggle to hold it together as Palin proudly pulls out a few moves from her pageant queen days during a speech that is meant to be non-partisan.
Will Forte (MacGruber: Financial Ruin)
Despite its thin premise, Will Forte’s MacGyver parody became his most popular recurring bit, inspired one of the best SNL movies, and was adapted into a Peacock original series. The best of the original sketches, in our opinion, sees MacGruber go to criminal and, eventually embarrassing lengths to earn a buck — even when disarming a bomb should be his top priority — after failing to properly check his stock investments.
Bill Hader (Dateline: The Mystery Of The Chopped-Up Guy)
Most would agree that Bill Hader’s greatest creation is Stefon (in collaboration with John Mulaney) who hosted his own “Weekend Update” segments, but when it comes to traditional sketches, our first thought was when he took on Dateline. His impersonation of Keith Morrison as a reporter who gets a little too amused by the dark and depressing stories he covers is simply magnificent.
Darrell Hammond (Celebrity Jeopardy! Kathie Lee, Tom Hanks, Sean Connery, Burt Reynolds)
SNL cast-member-turned-announcer Darrell Hammond was never funnier than as Sean Connery mercilessly roasting Alex Trebek (Will Ferrell) on “Celebrity Jeopardy!” On Hammond’s final episode after a then-record-breaking 14 seasons, this recurring sketch went out with a great bang, also featuring Kristen Wiig as Kathie Lee Gifford, Tom Hanks as a helplessly moronic version of himself, and a special appearance by Norm Macdonald as Burt Rey— ahem, “Turd Ferguson.”
Phil Hartman (President Bill Clinton At McDonald's)
Sometimes the best political sketches have very little to do with actual politics, such as the most iconic appearance of the late Phil Hartman giving one of SNL’s best presidential impressions as Bill Clinton. The memorable Season 18 bit sees the then-president, accompanied by a couple secret service agents, stopping at a McDonald’s, where he ends up taking a menu’s worth of food for himself right off of customer’s trays.
Jan Hooks (Barbara And Nancy)
The late Jan Hooks was gifted with a powerhouse combination of perfect comedic timing and endless charm that led to a grand collection of memorable performances, such as Nancy Reagan. In a classic Season 14 sketch, her version of the former First Lady was visibly unhappy to leave the White House in the car of her successor, Barbara Bush (Phil Hartman).
Norm Macdonald (Cobras & Panthers)
The late Norm Macdonald is best known from his SNL days for his savage commentary as the host of “Weekend Update.” However, when it comes to traditional sketches, we would say his signature dry wit was served best in this Season 22 West Side Story parody in which he seems to be the only gang member baffled when the others — including host Robert Downey Jr. — start randomly breaking into song and dance.
Kate McKinnon (Close Encounter)
Out of so many classics to choose from, Kate McKinnon’s best SNL sketch has to be her first appearance as Colleen Rafferty, whose experience with alien abduction was not quite as favorable as Cecily Strong and Ryan Gosling’s characters. Speaking of Gosling, the A-lister could not stop laughing as he listened to his future fellow Barbie cast member go on about the horrifying acts committing against her in a juxtapositional, droll manner.
Tim Meadows (The Ladies Man: Unprotected Sex And Weight Issues)
While a character of such vulgar opinions might not become a beloved SNL staple if he debuted in this era, Leon Phelps remains Tim Meadows’ most iconic and hilarious character. The very first “Ladies Man” sketch from Season 23 is a definitive example of the actor’s masterful delivery, making even the most low-brow humor sound as fresh as could be.
Eddie Murphy (White Like Me)
Credited with single-handedly rescuing SNL in the early ‘80s, Eddie Murphy became the first person to host while still being a part of the cast and would return for a Season 10 episode which aired this bold mockumentary short inspired by John Howard Griffin’s Black Like Me. The Beverly Hills Cop star disguises himself as a caucasian man to understand life from that side of the racial spectrum and the results are a timeless piece of satirical brilliance.
Bill Murray (Bill Murray's Apology)
Years before he became a pop culture icon and master of random cameos, Bill Murray had a bit of a rough start when he became the Not-Ready-For-Primetime Players’ “new guy” in Season 2. He reflected on this by asking the audience to help him out by laughing at whatever he says in an apologetic monologue that earned genuine laughs.
Mike Myers (Wayne's World: Aerosmith)
Even after ruling the box office as Shrek and Austin Powers, Mike Myers’ best character might still be Wayne Campbell and, by the logic, his best sketch would also have to be “Wayne’s World.” The recurring segment’s magnum opus would have to be when Aerosmith appeared on the cheaply produced cable access show along with Tom Hanks as one of his best SNL characters — their roadie and Garth Elgar’s (Dana Carvey) cousin, Barry.
Amy Poehler (Weekend Update: Sarah Palin Rap)
For all of her accomplishments, mastering the art of rap is not something Emmy winner Amy Poehler is credited enough for. Perhaps more people should turn to a “Weekend Update” segment in which the future Parks and Rec cast lead fills in for Gov. Sarah Palin for a blistering beat about her life, her campaign, and moose.
Gilda Radner (Weekend Update: Roseanne Roseannadanna on Smoking)
It was nearly impossible to decide which of the late Gilda Radner’s many memorable SNL characters was best, but we could not help but pick Roseanne Roseannadanna. When it came to choosing which of the “Weekend Update” health correspondent’s appearances was funniest, we went with her iconic response to a letter from a man struggling to quit smoking.
Chris Rock (Peanuts Rant)
Despite playing a few memorable characters on SNL, Chris Rock was at his funniest when appearing as himself to comment on current events on “Weekend Update.” An ingenious example comes from the Season 18 opener when he compared his days as the only Black student at his school to Franklin being the only Black kid on Peanuts in a revealing commentary of the iconic cartoon.
Maya Rudolph (National Anthem)
If she didn’t find a career in comedy, Maya Rudolph could have been a great singer. She demonstrates, supposedly, the entirety of her vocal range as a contest winner performing an obscenely over-the-top rendition of America’s National Anthem before a 2006 World Series game.
Andy Samberg (D*** In A Box)
Andy Samberg loved to push the envelope with his digital shorts and none was more risqué (at least at the time) than this ‘90s R&B video about an ill-advised holiday gift for your partner. According to host Justin Timberlake, the bit is especially funny with a certain word bleeped out, as per the FCC’s request.
Adam Sandler (Weekend Update: Adam Sandler On Hanukkah)
To choose Adam Sandler’s best SNL moment is really to choose his best musical moment, of which there are many to pick from. Ultimately, we had to go with his song about Hanukkah, which he debuted in a Season 20 “Weekend Update” segment, that consists mostly of celebrating the celebrities who, like the Uncut Gems star himself, are Jewish. The way he sings it all in perfect rhyme is what makes it such as hilarious classic.
Molly Shannon (NPR's Delicious Dish: Schweddy Balls)
Some may remember this edition of the “NPR’s Delicious Dish” sketch as one of the best sketches featuring A-lister Alec Baldwin, as he is playing the title character, Pete Schweddy. However, Molly Shannon is the secret weapon here — remaining stone cold while delivering hilariously suggestive lines that a non-professional would be unable to finish without bursting into a fit of uncontrollable laughter.
Cecily Strong (Girlfriends Game Night)
When Cecily Strong left SNL, she left behind a grand legacy of colorful characters that are up there with the all-time greats, but the sketch of hers that makes us laugh the hardest is one that did not go exactly as planned. She plays a woman who ends up ruining game night with her friends when she brings along her geriatric husband (host Bill Hader), whose causes a mess with his scooter that causes everyone to break.
Jason Sudeikis (Weekend Update: The Devil On The Westboro Baptist Church's Funeral Protests)
Only a performer as charismatic as Jason Sudeikis could make the lord of all evil seem not so bad. The future Emmy-winning lead of the Ted Lasso cast gives his best performance as The Devil on “Weekend Update” when pointing out what makes the Westboro Baptist Church’s behavior not so godly.
Kenan Thompson (Black Jeopardy With Tom Hanks)
In addition to having more sketches under his belt than anyone in the show’s history, Kenan Thompson has starred in one of the most popular clips on SNL’s YouTube channel: a Season 42 edition of “Black Jeopardy!” featuring Tom Hanks as Doug. We also believe it is the former All That and Kenan & Kel star’s funniest sketch for its sharp satire about finding common ground in the most unexpected places.
Kristen Wiig (Target Lady: Classic Peg)
A top-notch candidate for SNL’s best female cast member, Kristen Wiig is known for a nearly unparalleled arsenal of hilarious characters, such as the Target Lady. One of the overly enthusiastic cashier’s best appearances as alongside her good friend, Peg (Justin Timberlake).
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