I actually like Saturday Night Live. You might, too, if you gave it a shot. Though its 37th season was not its best in recent history, it’s an interesting and often hilarious (though probably not as often as it should be) look into the waning format of live scripted TV and a chance to see the entertainment world comment on current events faster than most shows are able to.
So, while you should be watching the whole show, I have compiled a list of the 10 best sketches/bits of the year for those of you who like your SNL bite-sized. Fair warning: I love my Weekend Update.
10. Almost Pizza
The only pre-filmed bit on this list, this was my favorite clip of SNL this year that was less joke, more surrealist performance art. You watch and kind of go, “Haha, what?” at the end.
9. Detective who’s never watched TV
Charlie Day was one of the show’s better guests this year. This is a good example of the show taking one joke and making it bigger and bigger as the sketch goes on.
8. Casey Anthony’s dog
This one is great just because it’s one of the weirder ways to react to 2011’s inescapable onslaught of Casey Anthony news.
7. The Obama Show
Fred Armisen’s Obama is really, really terrible, but surprisingly, his Cosby is pretty good. By adopting the Cos’s mannerisms while keeping the traditional Obama appearance, Armisen was able to make a funny mashup instead of a boring, overlong cold open.
Everyone’s favorite methhead club promoter wasn’t quite as good this year as in previous seasons, but I’ll take B+ Stefon over most of the show’s A material. It was a bad move for Seth to ask him about March Madness.
5. Text message evidence
Eli Manning was a surprisingly good athlete host this year (as was Charles Barkely, though none of his sketches made this list). Stars with no acting background are always more fun if they’re OK with being made fun of, and that willingness combines with his spot-on mannerisms to make this sketch great.
4. Flirting expert
Most of Kristen Wiig’s recurring characters bother me (save the great Judi Grimes), but she is a gifted performer. This probably shouldn’t be as amusing as it is, but she pulls off the over-dramatized mannerisms so well.
3. How’s He Doing?
Though SNL likes to be thought of as an equal opportunity mocker, the writers and actors tend to have more fun with the right side of the aisle. It was a refreshing and very funny change to see them tackle a left-leaning topic in a potentially controversial and universal way, illustrating that sometimes our political leanings have more to do with perceived shared traits than what they say or do.
2. Drunk Uncle
Bobby Moynihan has grown a lot as a performer since making it to SNL, but the three Drunk Uncle skits this year were his funniest material yet. His non-sequiturs get me howling every time.
1. What’s Wrong With Tanya?
Though there’s a good amount of talent on SNL these days, none of them can touch Bill Hader in terms of versatility and effort. Watch him take the normally thankless role of game show host (sans Will Ferrell’s Alex Trebek, obviously) and make it the most entertaining part of the sketch.