Following the chaos of the pandemic and a presidential election, “Saturday Night Live” returned for its 47th season in October recharged and ready to go.
The NBC sketch show added three new cast members and comedy trio Please Don’t Destroy to the lineup, which have proven refreshing changes. The eight episodes that have aired so far have drawn strong performances from several first-timers (Rami Malek, Owen Wilson and Kim Kardashian West) and familiar faces (Jason Sudeikis, Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift). And the season isn’t even halfway over!
Ahead of the new year, TheWrap looks back on some of “SNL” 47’s greatest sidesplitters, from parodies of hit TV shows to sketches about the universal experience of hating your cable company (listed here in chronological order).
“Cars 4” (Host: Owen Wilson, Musical Guest: Kacey Musgraves)
During the season premiere, Owen Wilson took his “Cars” character, Lightning McQueen, for another spin. Playing himself, the actor steps back into the studio to record some lines for the latest sequel. But when he gets behind the mic, all of the dialogue on the page is creepy, slur-ridden or otherwise problematic. James Austin Johnson plays Larry the Cable Guy, who voices Lightning’s toothy sidekick Mater.
“The People’s Kourt” (Host: Kim Kardashian, Musical Guest: Halsey)
“SNL” exceeded expectations by actually knowing what to do with Kim Kardashian West. Naturally, the episode’s highlight was a sketch that merged parodies of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” and “The People’s Court.” Appearances by Kris Jenner, Khloé Kardashian and a slew of Kardashian impressionists added to the fun, but Kim’s uber-blasé impersonation of her sister Kourtney stole the show.
“Squid Game” (Host: Rami Malek, Musical Guest: Young Thug)
“SNL” music video sketches have been hit or miss, but when they hit, they hit. The show tapped into the “Squid Game” zeitgeist at its peak with an “Old Town Road”-style musical parody that showcased Rami Malek’s comedic range. You don’t have to be familiar with the Netflix series to appreciate the elaborate reconstructions of its sets and costumes, or to laugh along with the lyrics.
“Please Don’t Destroy – Rami Wants a Treat” (Host: Rami Malek, Musical Guest: Young Thug)
The “Please Don’t Destroy” trio has been churning out consistently funny digital shorts this season, so it’s a shame how many of them are “cut for time.” Malek puts his trademark discomfiting stare to good use playing a chaotic version of himself who just wants to be rewarded for his “good behavior.” It’s a treat and a half.
“Mellen” (Host: Jason Sudeikis, Musical Guest: Brandi Carlile)
When it comes to poking fun at toxic masculinity, “SNL” rarely misses. Former writer and cast member Jason Sudeikis takes a swing at daytime TV as talk show host “Mellen,” aka Male Ellen. Like a Gen X David Dobrik, he entertains by pulling pranks, starting fights and teaching his audience “awkward male dancing” – all while wearing Ellen DeGeneres’ signature vests and striped sweaters.
“Cancelling Cable” (Host: Kieran Culkin, Musical Guest: Ed Sheeran)
Kieran Culkin plays a frustrated caller who must jump through a series of increasingly absurd hoops to cancel his cable subscription. Cecily Strong’s pitch-perfect automated voice threads together a series of brief but hilarious character sketches of customer service representatives played by different cast members.
“Men’s Room” (Host: Kieran Culkin, Musical Guest: Ed Sheeran)
“Why are we not ourselves when we’re in the men’s room?” asks Bowen Yang at the top of this sketch skewering the banal chit-chat that men exchange in the bathroom. The characters take turns sharing hyper-masculine platitudes before acting out their internal monologues under a spotlight. A surprise appearance by Tracy Morgan brings the sketch to an absurd conclusion.
“Man Park” (Host: Jonathan Majors, Musical Guest: Taylor Swift)
What if straight men had somewhere they could go to talk about all the things their wives and girlfriends don’t care to hear about? “SNL” dreams up that place with a mock commercial for “Man Park,” a dog park for men. Somehow, “Man Park” is both a clever and compassionate takedown of toxic masculinity’s effect on male friendships.
“Simu & Bowen” (Host: Simu Liu, Musical Guest: Saweetie)
Host Simu Liu and Bowen Yang congratulate each other on being the first Asians to accomplish feats in various categories. The compliment exchange quickly turns competitive as the awards climb to ridiculous heights.
“New Military Weapon” (Host: Simu Liu, Musical Guest: Saweetie)
Sometimes, a live sketch is even funnier when things go wrong than when they go right, and that’s often the case when an animal actor is involved. Simu Liu plays a high-ranking major who tries to sell his bosses on a fearsome new military weapon: a half-man, half golden retriever. Watching these self-serious characters try their hardest not to break when the dog goes off-script is a barking good time.
“Christmas Cards” (Host: Billie Eilish, Musical Guest: Billie Eilish)
The Christmas cards stuck to a couple’s fridge come to life in this sketch featuring a surprise visit from Miley Cyrus. Each of the cards represents a different category of holiday card, from “your super white, super Christian neighbor” to a middle-aged gay couple with a rat dog on its last leg. Eilish plays Harper, a high school bully turned braggy mother.
“Lonely Christmas” (Host: Billie Eilish, Musical Guest: Billie Eilish)
A deranged take on a famous sequence from “Love Actually,” this sketch takes a turn from heartwarming to horrifying when a daughter played by Eilish decides to invite her neighbor over for Christmas. The schmaltzy cover of The Smiths’ “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” playing in the background is a perfect touch.
“Kyle’s Holiday” (Host: Billie Eilish, Musical Guest: Billie Eilish)
Whenever Kyle Mooney plays himself as a dorky, awkward kid just trying to fit in, “SNL” has a hit on its hands – and this digital short is no exception. Mooney tries to make Christmas plans with various cast members, but they’re all busy. Features from Eilish, comedian Jacob Kaplan and a rival “SNL” cast member pack an extra punch in this excellent sketch.