by Julian Spivey
The 42nd season of “Saturday Night Live” saw a major boost in the show’s ratings and recognition thanks to the wild political climate of the real world and the big-time actors called in by the show to portray these politicians, like Alec Baldwin as President Donald Trump and Melissa McCarthy as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. The show also featured numerous favorite guests of the show, including Baldwin, Tom Hanks, McCarthy, Scarlett Johansson and Dwayne Johnson – all of whom are a part of the 5-Timers Club.
Here are the 10 best sketches of the 2016-17 ‘SNL’ season:
10. Amazon Echo
Ever since “Saturday Night Live” debuted in 1975 it’s commercial parodies have been among the highlights of the show. The best commercial parody this year was the Amazon Echo Silver for elderly people. The Amazon Echo Silver will respond to any name even remotely sounding like ‘Alexa’ and has an ”uh-huh” feature for long-rambling stories. Kenan Thompson, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones portraying elderly people is hilarious.
9. Jingle Barack
The best President Barack Obama farewell that ‘SNL’ had this year was during the Christmas episode hosted by Casey Affleck when Kenan Thompson and musical guest that week Chance the Rapper did a Run-D.M.C. “Christmas in Hollis” parody about Obama’s last Christmas as President that featuredd actual Run-D.M.C. member Darryl McDaniels and a verse from Leslie Jones. Among the funniest lines were: “kids enjoy the presents while you can/’cause next year you might get a bomb from Iran” and “drinking egg nog like I don’t care/I’m gonna hurt myself before we lose Obamacare.”
8. Aziz Ansari Monologue/7. Dave Chappelle Monologue
‘SNL’ monologues oftentimes seem like a waste of time because the hosts are actors or musicians who aren’t necessarily used to doing comedy, but I always look forward to ‘SNL’ monologues when stand-up comedians host because you know you’re basically going to get a shortened stand-up routine. This happened a few times this season when comedians Aziz Ansari, Dave Chappelle and Louis CK hosted with Ansari and Chappelle’s particularly standing out. Ansari did his monologue the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration and Chappelle’s came the Saturday after Trump was elected and gave each comedian ample material. Chappelle recently apologized for saying he “messed up” by telling America to give Trump “a chance” during his monologue, something many of us were surprised by when it aired.
6. Hillary Actually
One of the most creative political sketches that ‘SNL’ did this season came in December, the month after Donald Trump had won the election when they gave Kate McKinnon’s terrific Hillary Clinton impression the chance to mimic a key scene from the film “Love Actually.” In the scene, an elector played by Cecily Strong opens the door to find Clinton with a set of cue cards asking her to change her vote for the Electoral College.
5. Cathy Anne
Every season it seems that ‘SNL’ debuts a new recurring Weekend Update character for the ages and this year it was without a doubt Cecily Strong’s Cathy Anne, a white trash woman likely from the South who gives her hilarious two cents on political topics ranging from being an undecided voter to President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. The most fascinating part of Strong’s character is how she rattles off the almost indecipherable lines without tripping over herself. I look forward to seeing the character often in the future.
4. Haunted Elevator feat. David S. Pumpkins
There’s little doubt in my mind that David S. Pumpkins was the most talked about ‘SNL’ sketch of the season, even more so than any one Donald Trump or Sean Spicer sketch. This wild-and-wacky character played by Tom Hanks – with a wonderful glee that reminds us that one of the world’s greatest dramatic actors is terrific at sketch comedy, as well – came out of nowhere (actually the mind of new cast member Mikey Day) and took the nation by surprise with its absurdity. Much like the Larry David as Kevin Roberts sketch last season (that wound up at No. 5 on my season end list) the sketch relies on sheer absurdity for its laughs. Any questions?
3. Black Jeopardy!
Black Jeopardy! proved to be one of the show’s best recurring sketches last season, but this season’s lone appearance of the sketch may have been the greatest yet. The premise of the sketch has always been two black contestants competing against a confused white contestant who is completely out of the loop with black culture. But, during the Tom Hanks episode Hanks played a Trump supporter – someone you wouldn’t think would have too much in common with black culture. Well, it turns out we may all have similarities. This sketch was brilliantly written.
2. Sean Spicer
It seems ‘SNL’ has created a trend of famous celebrities not among the cast portraying political figures. It began in season 41 with comedian Larry David portraying Bernie Sanders and continued this season with Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump. However, I don’t believe anybody saw Melissa McCarthy as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer coming – and it was a brilliant choice. First, it’s amazing how much McCarthy looks like Spicer with all the makeup on. Second, she just absolutely owned the craziness that is a White House Press Briefing during the Trump era. It’ll be amazing if she doesn’t take home an Emmy for this performance.
1. Presidential Debates
The biggest boost “Saturday Night Live” has seen in years was owed to Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of Donald Trump and the zany antics of Trump that are too often hard to believe. You would think that would make the task of portraying Trump hard, but somehow Baldwin made it work. ‘SNL’ probably went to this well a few too many times during the season, but early on when the show mocked the Presidential debates between Trump and Hillary Clinton (brilliantly played by Kate McKinnon) it provided numerous laughs and proved why ‘SNL’ is always a little bit better in an election year.