The 10 Best ‘SNL’ Skits of 2013
It’s been a year of big change for ‘SNL‘ – longtime cast members Bill Hader, Fred Armisen and Jason Sudeikis all left the show, while Weekend Update anchor announced he’s be leaving to take over ‘Late Night’ from Jimmy Fallon. For the first time in years, there was no real star among the cast. But, despite all that, ‘SNL’ proved resilient and continued to deliver some truly hilarious sketches. We took a look back at the past year (which spanned two seasons and multiple new and departing cast members) to find the absolute 10 best ‘SNL’ skits of 2013.
‘New Horror Trailer’
Perhaps more popularly known as “The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders,” this brilliant send up of Wes Anderson films wasn’t so much LOL-style funny as it was just pitch perfect. Host Edward Norton does a spot-on Owen Wilson in this Digital Short, structured as a trailer for Anderson’s new horror movie (narrated by Alec Baldwin, of course). From the stop-motion animated mouse, to Jay Pharaoh’s Danny Glover cameo, to the Edith Piaf name drop, everything about this extremely well-made short was vintage Anderson, classic ‘SNL’ and a treat for movie fans.
24-Hour Energy Drink
Designed as a fake commercial for an energy drink, this filmed segment offers up a “24-Hour Energy Drink” for the boyfriends of overdramatic actresses. Kate McKinnon has the perfect affectations for the wanna-be actress and there are some great lines (“hang out with her actor friends while they scream showtunes in your face”). Stick around until the end for a solid closing joke about comedians.
New Cast Member or Arcade Fire?
Some ‘SNL’ skits are utilitarian; they’re there to serve a purpose beyond the traditional sketch format. Such is the case with this game show skit from the Season 39 premiere. Everyone involved plays themselves and the basic premise – a game show where host Tina Fey has to guess which person is a member of Arcade Fire, or one of the new ‘SNL’ hires – is designed to introduce the audience to the new faces in the cast. These type of ‘SNL’ skits don’t always work, but this one hits perfectly, mostly due to Fey, host Kenan Thompson and a last-minute cameo from Lorne Michaels who delivers a hilarious punchline.
Boy Dance Party
Bruce Willis hadn’t hosted ‘SNL’ since 1989 and had no movie to promote, so overall it was great to see him break character as the cranky action hero. Case in point: Boy Dance Party. A Digital Short, it follows the events that really unfold when wives and girlfriends leave their men at home on a Sunday afternoon. You think they’re watching the football game, but no, it’s a Boy Dance Party. With another host it may not have worked as well, but using Alpha Male Bruce Willis as the anchor was a stroke of genius. When you see him doing the Curly dance on the ground, you’ll be sold.
Because so much of ‘SNL’ is shot live (minus the pre-taped skits), there’s a limited amount of editing that can be done. Host Zack Galifianakis but that to the test with his “Darrell’s House” sketches. The first sketch shows Galifianakis as Darrell, trying (and failing badly) to host his first public access show. He keeps screwing up and asking for cuts and edits to be made. It doesn’t really make a lot of sense and it’s not very funny. Yet. After a commercial break, Part 2 of the sketch airs and it’s just the first sketch, but with all the ridiculous edits Darrell requested (“insert a shot from ‘Showtime at the Apollo’ of people laughing…”) awkwardly spliced in. What’s great about this (besides the fact that editors had to rush to recut a live sketch during the commercial break) is that ‘SNL’ actually had the patience to let the audience sit through what seemed like a pointless sketch, for a hilarious payoff. If viewers only caught one of the skits, it wouldn’t make any sense at all, but watch them together and it’s genius.
If Kristen Wiig’s goodbye the year before was less a sketch (something about Mick Jagger being a principal and kids are graduating and Arcade Fire is there?…) than an excuse to get all the ‘SNL’ players on stage, Bill Hader’s farewell to Stefon, one of the most popular recurring characters of this era, was far more creative. Initially another Weekend Update bit, the sketch evolved into a parody of the ‘Graduate’ as Seth Meyers runs out of Studio 8H to stop Stefon from marrying Anderson Cooper. Of course, in attendance were all of Stefon’s friends like the HoboCops (homeless RoboCops), evil chef Wario Batali and even Ben Affleck (who played Stefon’s brother in the characters very first sketch).
Sometimes a pretty basic premise can be elevated by the quality of the impressions. Here, it’s a simple riff on how ‘The Carrie Diaries’ was a teenage look at ‘Sex and the City’ and what if they created a similar type of show based on ‘The Sopranos.’ Enter ‘Sopranos High’ where we see Tony and Paulie and the crew in high school. Make sure you stick around to see Fred Armisen as Paulie trying to explain the Ewoks in ‘Return of the Jedi’ to the rest of the group. Space bears.
Aw Nuts, Mom’s a Ghost!
Kristen Wiig’s return to ‘SNL’ was mostly a bust (waaaay too many old, recurring characters), but there was one standout. Wiig starred in this commercial parody for a Disney Channel movie titled ‘Aw Nuts, Mom’s a Ghost!’ The catch here is that it’s the standard Disney made-for-TV movie, except the wacky hijinks ensue when the mom of two kids returns as a K-horror water ghost. The commercial is shot to perfectly mimic the Disney aesthetic and Wiig plays exasperation (even ghostly exasperation) as well as any ‘SNL’ cast member.
Outside the Lines
Traditionally, topical humor on ‘SNL’ doesn’t hold up as well – who really remembers much about the Rutgers basketball coaching scandal? – but, sometimes you get the perfect mix of host and material and a topical sketch rises above to become something timeless. Such is the case with Melissa McCarthy, who riffs on the RU basketball scandal with a female coach who has some serious anger management issues. It’s McCarthy doing what she does best – the blustery loudmouth – and that’s why it works.
Song For Daddy
If you don’t remember seeing this sketch back from when Justin Bieber was both the host and musical guest, you’re not crazy – it never aired. Titled “Song For Daddy,” the sketch aired during the ‘SNL’ dress rehearsal but was such a disaster (cast member Bill Hader called it “the greatest trainwreck ever”) it never ran live. Luckily, the ‘SNL’ writers realized how funny it can be to watch a sketch go completely wrong and they posted it online after the show, along with commentary by Hader and writers John Solomon and Rich Klein. The basic conceit is that an old country-western singer is delivering a long Springsteen-esque monologue as he prepares to play the most ridiculous song, but then a wall almost falls and crushes Justin Bieber and it’s funny for all the wrong reasons.