Obscure 'SNL' Sketches You Should Love

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These aren't the Celebrity Jeopardies, the Matt Foleys, the Schweddy Balls or the Killer Bees. These SNLsketchesare the hidden gems you may have forgotten about, the ones that aren't necessarily immortalized on compilation DVDs or re-aired at reunion shows. But they make me laugh just as hard as those, if not harder. And I want to share them with you. Mostly so you'll stop looking at me weird when I turn to you and say, "Hello. My name is Jonathan Franzen. I'd like to order fifty pizzas. It's for a prank."

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1. Lolene (S35, 2010)

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Lolene (Tina Fey) is a Pennsylvania hooker with a heart of gold. She's got $1,300 saved up and a dream to see Paris. Oh, and she's nine-inches tall. This scene is a mostly dramatic heartbreaker that somehow makes me clutch my chest in pity and laughter at the same time. There's nothing funny about Lolene's sad life at all...except that she's nine inches tall.

Watch it here.

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2. Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Laughs! (S37, 2012)

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I just re-watched this sketch five minutes ago and it made me cry laughing. And I've probably watched it upwards of 30 times. If someone asked you to think about what it would be like if Maya Angelou tried to pull a prank, this is exactly what it be. Maya Rudolph's ridiculous impression is like icing on the cake. 

Watch it here.

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3. Christmastime for the Jews (S31, 2005)

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There are so many reasons I love this TV Funhouse sketch. First and foremost, I remember watching this when it actually aired; the year I spent Christmas in NYC with my friend's family, eating Chinese food in Chinatown before going to see King Kong in theaters (literally what happens in the video). Second, the lyrics are hilarious, it's super catchy and Darlene Love sings the crap out of it. 

Watch it here.

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4. Potato Chip Thief (S35, 2009)

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The lesson of this sketch is, "You don't take people's potato chips!" Will Forte, Jason Sudeikis and host Blake Lively star in this totally absurd sketch, one of my favorites of all time. Sudeikis' character is meeting with Forte at NASA headquarters to learn about becoming an astronaut. The reasons for their strange Southern accents and Sudeikis' Colonel Sanders getup and the fridge-stored space test are anyone's guess. Needless to say, the sketch isn't quite about NASA or space at all. 

And now, "I will collect my hemorrhoid donut and bid you adieu."

Watch it here.

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5. Kitty Cat on the Mars Mission (S38, 2012)

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This sketch is beyond silly, and that's why I love it. Also, Bobby Moynihan's face. If you don't find yourself saying, "I miss my widdle kitty cat!" after watching this, we can't be friends. 

Watch it here.

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6. Inflatable Doll Testing With Ralph Nader (S2, 1977)

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The scariest (and most hilarious) thing about this sketch is how comfortable Ralph Nader seems with these inflatable dolls. Either he's a way better actor than we originally suspected, or... I don't really want to explore the "or."

Watch it here.

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7. The Art Dealers: Their Son, Nuni (S30, 2005)

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Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph play ambiguously European and ambiguously human art dealers named Nuni and Noonie. Their son, Will Ferrell, is another Nuni. (Make sure you pronounce it right!) Their house is full of weird things, they are weird and everything makes no sense. It's great! Who wants beef paste?!

Watch it here.

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8. Goodnights (S11, 1986)

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The 11th season of Saturday Night Live was rife with issues. It marked the return of Lorne Michaels after Dick Ebersol took over the show. Ebersol hired some big names at the time: Randy Quaid, Joan Cusack, Anthony Michael Hall and Robert Downey Jr. Unfortunately, prior success in movies and TV did not translate to success in late night sketch comedy. The show was floundering, and they knew it.

So at the end of the season finale, in the goodnights section while the cast is lamenting the end of the season, host Billy Martin sets the cast dressing room on fire (not really, it was a written sketch). Michaels shows up, yelling that the cast won't be able to do the show next year if they're set on fire. Then, Michaels jumps in and emerges from the room, saving Jon Lovitz and only Jon Lovitz. 

It was a moment of real transparency, a bitter end to a bitter season, and you better believe the rest of the cast was not happy about the Jon Lovitz moment. Nevertheless, it goes down as a poignant moment in the show's history.

Read the transcript here.

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9. The Lost Ending to 'Of Mice and Men' (S34, 2008)

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If the book Of Mice and Men is too horribly sad and awful for you to endure, which it should be if you have a soul, this ending is much funnier. Lenny may be sharper than we think...

"Enjoy your pancakes!"

Watch it here.

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10. Devil Can't Write No Love Song (S25, 1999)

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No one thought that Garth Brooks and Will Ferrell in a Devil costume would make the greatest musical team of all time, but here we are.

Lines like, "Ooh Fred's got slacks," and "Weekends, I prefer the weekends!" will forever play in your mind from now on. You're welcome.

Watch it here.

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11. Ancient Rome Emperor Loves Grapes (S35, 2010)

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Will Forte gave us some of the oddest, most ridiculous characters on SNL. This one is no different. He plays an ancient Roman emperor who loves nothing more than being fed grapes by his slave boy, Antonius (Ashton Kutcher). The sounds that emit from his mouth during this sketch are delightfully silly and make me all giggly inside.

Watch it here.

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12. Old Prospector (Unaired)

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This sketch never made it on the air, it was cut after dress rehearsal. However it thankfully made its way onto the Best of Will Ferrell DVD, and also into my heart. Will Ferrell as an old prospector just spelling his name (Gus Chiggins! C-H-I-G-G-I-N-S. Chiggins!) was enough to make everyone else on stage break into a million pieces, and it's guaranteed to make you laugh, too.

Watch it here.

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13. Charles Grodin Monologue/Entire Episode (S3, 1977)

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Charles Grodin did something absolutely electric when he hosted in the third season, and it sort of got him banned from the show. The actor was known at the time for playing a character in his late night appearances, a "Charles Grodin" who was "a combative character whose eye-rolling accusations aimed to expose the fake friendliness of celebrity culture." He took this meta performance a step further when he hosted SNL in 1977. 

The A.V. Club calls his episode "a glorious anomaly, an utterly singular bit of brainy meta-television the likes of which the show hasn't attempted since." It starts with John Belushi and Gilda Radner complaining about how Grodin hasn't been around all week, barely rehearsing, barely spending time with the cast. Grodin eventually pops in with gifts for the cast, telling them all about how he spent the week sight-seeing. The conceit is that "Charles Grodin" doesn't understand the show's actually live. He treats this genius monologue, as well as every other sketch he's in, like it's filmed, like he can go back and take it again if he doesn't get it right the first time. 

It's absolutely genius. And an absolute train wreck. He beautifully ruins every sketch, including a killer bees sketch that turns positively existential. 

Grodin never hosted again (though he claims he was asked). Apparently, there's some debate as to whether or not all of his shtick was planned.

You can watch the episode here if you have Hulu Plus.

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14. Look After Grandma...Or Else (S18, 1992)

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Long before Birdman, Michael Keaton had the role of a lifetime in this ridiculous SNL sketch. He brings a girl home and just wants some alone time, but his grandma, played by Adam Sandler, is quite demanding. Chris Farley plays Keaton's brother, who is trying futilely to keep Grandma happy. It gets DARK. Also, you get to see Michael Keaton in some tight, leopard print undies. Worth it.

Watch it here.

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15. Black Takeover (S1, 1975)

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In this brilliantly biting sketch from the first season, Dan Aykroyd sits at the dinner table with his family, yelling about how the "blacks" are "taking over." "First they bought the Sweeney's house, and then they bought the Thomason's house and then they bought the Smith's!" he laments. As dinner progresses, he fails to notice that each member of his family leaves the table, and returns as a black actor. It's short, scathing and has been burned in my brain since the first time I saw it years ago.

Unfortunately, it's not available to watch on the Internet, and this picture isn't from the actual sketch. But you can read the transcript here (or borrow my season one DVDs).

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