Year's end is upon us, therefore we must go back and watch as many Saturday Night Live sketches as possible.
We did make some rules for this year in review, because while chaos adds to the excitement of live television, we bloggers are anxiety prone. That much excitement gives us the shakes. So we could only choose one sketch per episode. Those are the rules and, for better or worse, we stuck to them.
The show changed dramatically after losing Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis mid-year, and then adding six new faces upon its return. Despite the losses, all in all, 2013 was a strong year for SNL. Without further ado, our choices for the best sketches this year.
Honorable mention: We couldn't find a way to add a nod to Cecily Strong's dearly departed Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation with at a Party. Which I guess makes us part of the problem. What problem is that, you ask? Exactly.
The 13 Best Saturday Night Live Sketches of 2013
(aired on: February 9th; host: Justin Bieber)
So much of the Justin Bieber-hosted episode involved the show commenting on Bieber's youthful magnetism and also in harassing him without mercy. Taran Killam's Eward, protective older brother and relentless teaser, managed to give both to Bieber in the same lunatic sketch. Killam's the whole show here, escalating Edward's taunts and trying his damnedest to make Bieber crack. (Vanessa Bayer, as usual, is a pillar of quiet dignity from the sidelines.) — J.R.
(aired: February 16th; host: Christoph Waltz)
After a meteor crashed into a village in Russia and became something of a YouTube sensation, Weekend Update brought villager Olya Povlatsky in from her home in the remote Ural mountains to report on the events. Kate McKinnon is in her element at the Update desk playing strange women from far-away lands. She ticks off the harsh details of Olya's life, from the wild dogs to the neverending cold to the interminably long time they had to wait for Kelis's "Milkshake." — J.R.
(aired: March 2nd; host: Kevin Hart)
Hart's wired energy while asking Tim Robinson whether he's wearing "an A-shirt," or "a B-shirt," and so on and so forth while the two friends hang out, shoot hoops and slap hands in a neon, graffiti-covered dreamscape straight out of a toy commercial you'd see on Fox Kids stuck with me as highlight for the year. The sketch nailed all the hallmarks of a commercial from my childhood, which helped, but the kinetic energy Hart brings to the table was the surface covering the sadness of a friendship gone awry that flowed underneath this sketch. Robinson feels legitimately worried for his friend who can't stop asking the same question. Eventually, Robinson gets fed up with Hart and realizes his friend is dead inside. Later, at Robinson's mother's funeral, Hart interrupts Robinson's eulogy to finish the job. — C.S.
Aw Nuts! Mom’s A Ghost
(aired: March 11th; host: Kristen Wiig)
Crossing iCarly and The Grudge in a commercial parody does not scream "2013" or "relevance" very much, but the sketch was still well-executed and, most importantly, made me laugh. Cecily Strong and Bobby Moynihan are Haley and Max—two kids whose mom (Wiig) became a Korean water ghost after getting murdered by a South Korean big shot business man. Strong is perfect as the innocent, sassy teen who would star in a Disney show, and Wiig sucks the life out of a science teacher before turning around to say, "We can't tell dad about this," with mom's patented "do this or else" finger wag. What more do you need? — C.S.
(aired: April 6th; host: Melissa McCarthy)
In her turns hosting SNL, Melissa McCarthy has brought a sense of physical comedy that's become pretty rare as of late. That's not just limited to falling down, either, as evident in this fantastic sketch where McCarthy plays Jean Carrera, an entrant in the Honey-Baked Ham Bake-Off who's intent on upping her presentational game. There are few things funnier than deadpan choreography, and McCarthy nails it in a routine that is both naively sweet and admirably workmanlike. I don't know who decided that ham was the funniest of our dinner meats, but it is. It really is. (Okay, yes, that person was probably Tina Fey, now that we think of it.) — J.R.
[Somehow, McCarthy's episode fell in between the cracks of the transfer of SNL short-form clips from Hulu to Yahoo. The full McCarthy-hosted episode is on Hulu, and we’ve also linked to the clip elsewhere, if you click on the sketch's title above.]
Martha Stewart on Match.com
(aired: May 4th; host: Zach Galifianakis)
Online dating is so common that even Martha Stewart does it, "because I want a successful man, for intercourse." Kate MacKinnon grabbed the Martha Stewart torch and handled it "rough, like a rustic burlap wedding invitation," similar to how she likes her men. Kidding! MacKinnon handled the sketch with the "simple elegance of a good bang." Okay, now I'm just giving away all the best lines. But in a year when MacKinnon broke out from the pack, this sketch stood out from her impressive 2013 body of work. — C.S.
(aired: May 18th; host: Ben Affleck)
The Saboski Crystals porn stars had already reprised their sketch once in the early months of 2013, and while Vanessa Bayer, Cecily Strong, and Justin Timberlake delivered ably, there was a strong sense that the air was rapidly running out of the concept. Which is what makes this third iteration, with Ben Affleck stepping in as big-nutted Girth Brooks, such an accomplishment. The jokes in this one might have been even funnier than the original sketch, particularly the E.T. and glass-ceiling bits. And the normally impenetrable Bayer very nearly breaks when describing how her eye was nearly sucked out by a butt. Proud day for everyone. — J.R.
(aired: September 28th; host: Tina Fey)
So, okay, with our self-imposed rule of one sketch per episode, we were at something of an impasse with regard to the Tina Fey-hosted season premiere. We very much wanted to show some love to the Girls parody and Tina's delightfully frank Blerta (plus Kate McKinnon's stellar Jessa), but ultimately, we thought the degree of difficulty in making yet another comment on the indignity of airports improbably won the day. Fey and Taran Killam were on-point and deadpan in their jabs at graph-makers, selectively-understanding Italians, and people who clap when the plane lands. Plus, hats off to the prop people for making a hilariously oversized carry-on for what amounted to a two-second gag. Nine out of ten farters agree — J.R.
Bar Mitzvah Boy Jacob
(aired: October 5; host: Miley Cyrus)
Jacob made his triumphant return to the Update desk late in late October, and he was startled by the big changes. Cecily Strong's presence shocked him a bit, but Seth Meyers made sure he was as comfortable as he usually is explaining Judaism and delivering his awkward, pre-pubescent punchlines to the world. — C.S.
The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders
(aired: October 26th; host: Edward Norton)
Like The New York Times, SNL has us at Wes Anderson. It was clear "The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders" would make every year-end list from the moment it aired. Norton, who is pals with Anderson, beautifully skewered his friend's style—the roster of murderers straight from Brooklyn, the communiques by paper airplane, the stop-motion mouse. There are references to every single Anderson movie in here, but at this point his style is so widely-recognized that you don't need to get them all for this sketch to resonate. Everything is so perfectly and distinctly him that the sketch transcends any hipster inclusiveness. It's just damn funny. — C.S.
Cartoon Catch Phrase
(aired: November 2nd; host: Kerry Washington)
No cast member made bigger strides from the beginning of the year to the end than Aidy Bryant, who went from barely-used newbie to invaluable cast member and all-star portrayer of women (and girls, re: "Girlfriends Talk Show") on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Here, she elevates a deeply stupid Cartoon Network game show parody by virtue of her desperate humiliations at the hands of her cheating husband, Duane. Oh, Duane. — J.R.
Jebidiah Atkinson, Presidential Speech Critic
(aired on: November 16th; host: Lady Gaga)
Killam again, here cracking Seth Meyers up with his aggressively catty pan of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. It wasn't so much the over-the-top harshness with which Atkinson panned some of the greatest and most sacred speeches in our history that put this sketch over the top. The extra specialness came in how Atkinson was able to play off of the audience's often stunned reactions. He's right though. Lincoln can probably take it—he's on the $5. — J.R.
"(Do It On My) Twin Bed"
(aired: December 21; host: Jimmy Fallon)
The female cast teamed up to make the best music video of the year about "gettin' wild in a bed for a child," squeaking in juuust under the wire for the year's best sketches. Besides the fact that they nailed a very real Christmas problem, the video itself has so many great lines, from monkey sheets to the thing with Jean to poor departed Aunt Ruth. Every girl gets a verse, with extra snaps for Aidy Bryant and newcomer Noel Wells. Jimmy Fallon lends some bars to anchor the whole thing down. It was nice of the girls to give him some minutes on the show. — C.S.