Saturday Night Live (SNL) has been known for its short comedy/parody sketches and skits since it premiered in 1975. Skits vary widely in style and topic. Many classic SNL sketches have become influential in comedy and pop culture. Some examples include “Celebrity Jeopardy!”, “Wayne’s World,” “Land Shark,” “Cowbell,” “Coneheads,” “Debbie Downer,” and “Schweddy Balls.” Popular recurring sketch segments include “Weekend Update,” parodies news programs, and political satire sketches spoofing current events and politicians.
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What Happens in SNL Sketches?
Celebrity guests often participate in sketches to parody or poke fun at their public personas or recent roles/projects. Sketch formats include parody ads, talk shows, game shows, soap operas, music videos, dramatic scenes, and nonsensical surreal concepts.
Parodies of popular culture/media – Skits will spoof TV shows, movies, commercials, music videos, viral videos, websites, books, video games, etc., through exaggerated imitation.
Political/news satire – Topics like the presidency, politicians, government policies, and current events are lampooned and taken to an absurd degree.
Celebrity impressions – Cast members do impressions/imitations of famous people from entertainment, sports, and politics for comic effect.
Workplace/family humor – Office environments, family dynamics, and relationships are mined for comedic situations and awkward interactions.
Song parodies – Popular songs are re-written for humorous alternate lyrics related to recent topics. Musical guests often join in these.
Game shows/talk shows – Fake competitions, interviews, or panels derive laughs from cliched formats with unexpected contestants.
Sketch premises taken to a ridiculous conclusion – Simple scenarios are escalated increasingly improbably for absurdity.
Physical/slapstick humor – Pratfalls, stunts, and props are incorporated alongside verbal/ situational jokes.
Unexpected twists and non-sequiturs – Skits take abrupt left turns or slide into surreal absurdity.
Does All of the Sketches And Skits Become Popular?
Successful sketches depend on solid writing, the acting ability of the entire cast, good comedic timing, and delivering unexpected twists. Not every sketch is a “hit,” and some considered misses are quickly forgotten. But the show’s format allows for experimenting with different comedic styles. Key appeal of SNL sketches lies in their ability to satirize contemporary people and issues while making audiences laugh through unexpected humor and tongue-in-cheek absurdity.
Why is it Called SNL?
It has continuously aired live on Saturday nights, hence Saturday Night Live. The name emphasizes that it’s a live broadcast. In the 1970s, when it launched, Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show dominated late-night TV on weekends. SNL aimed to provide an alternative on NBC on Saturday nights. The abbreviated SNL name gave it a youthful, hip appeal to attract younger viewers as a counterpoint to Carson, who skewed older. SNL rolls off the tongue easily and connotes brevity, which fits the format of short bitesize comedy sketches and segments. The name Saturday Night Live emphasizes the live broadcast element, positions it as an alternative late-night option airing on Saturday, and perfectly captures the youthful, fast-paced energy of its comedy format.
Popular Skits of SNL
The show’s comedic style and cultural references have evolved over time, so numerous classic skits from past eras are worth exploring. Ultimately, the “best” skits can vary depending on personal taste and the specific age of SNL that resonates with each viewer. But some of the best skits are
More Cowbell (featuring Will Ferrell Christopher Walken)
Celebrity Jeopardy! (featuring Will Ferrell as Alex Trebek)
Matt Foley: Van Down by the River (featuring Chris Farley)
Wayne’s World (featuring Mike Myers and Dana Carvey)
The Continental (featuring Christopher Walken)
Dick in a Box (featuring Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake)
Chippendales Audition (featuring Chris Farley and Patrick Swayze)
Lazy Sunday (featuring Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell)
Debbie Downer (featuring Rachel Dratch and guest host Lindsay Lohan)
Black Jeopardy! (featuring Kenan Thompson as host Darnell Hayes)
What are the Iconic Characters of SNL?
- Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar (Mike Myers and Dana Carvey) from “Wayne’s World”
- Mary Katherine Gallagher (Molly Shannon)
- The Spartan Cheerleaders (Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri)
- Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker (Chris Farley)
- Church Lady (Dana Carvey)
- The Blues Brothers (Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi)
- Stefon (Bill Hader)
- Roseanne Roseannadanna (Gilda Radner)
- The Coneheads (Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin, and Laraine Newman)
- The Target Lady (Kristen Wiig)
- MacGruber (Will Forte)
- Celebrity Impersonations (e.g., Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump, Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton)
- Opera Man (Adam Sandler)
- The Ladies Man (Tim Meadows)
- The Spartan Spirit Squad (Chris Farley, Tim Meadows, et al.)
The skits of “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) have played a main role in shaping the landscape of comedy and pop culture for over four decades. From memorable characters to hilarious parodies and satirical sketches, SNL has consistently pushed boundaries and provided a platform for talented comedians to showcase their skills.
The skits of SNL have captured the spirit of their respective eras, reflecting their time’s social and political climate. They have tackled current events, lampooned celebrities, and provided biting commentary on various topics. Through clever writing, exceptional performances, and impeccable comedic timing, SNL skits have entertained audiences and left lasting impressions. Many SNL skits have become cultural touchstones, spawning catchphrases and memes that have permeated popular culture. They have launched the careers of numerous comedians who have achieved great success in the entertainment industry.