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21st May 2019

10 of the funniest sketches from SNL season 44

Lots of lols. Perhaps even too many lols? No.

Ciara Knight

SNL season 44, RIP in peace x

SNL season 44 has wrapped and rather than crying because it is over, we simply must smile because it happened.

On the whole, it was a very solid season for the show. There were highs (pretty much every cold open) and lows (Teacher Fell Down), but we stuck with it because even in these uncertain times, at least someone is trying to make light of it all and get us to remember how to laugh.

It’s essential that we must now look back fondly oat another exceptional feat in sketch comedy. An impressive 22 live shows produced some snort-inducing laughter and memorable moments this fiscal year.

Here’s ten of the funniest sketches from SNL season 44.

10. Charlie’s Grandparents

Along with ‘Is the towel drying me or am I wetting the towel?’, one of eternity’s long-unanswered questions is ‘Why did all four of Charlie Bucket’s grandparents sleep in the same bed?’. Unfortunately, SNL didn’t really answer that question, but they answered the usual follow-up query, which is ‘How did they fuck?’. Claire Foy played the role of Charlie excellently, adopting a suitably horrified disposition that any grandson would suffer while witnessing their grandparents going to town on each other in the kitchen come living room come bedroom come portal to hell.

“It’ll pass”, Kate reassures her son Charlie, but we’re unclear as to whether the fucking grandparents are her maternal folks or the in-laws, not that it actually matters a great deal. Charlie busies himself stirring a “combination of cabbage and shirts” while Grandpa George and Grandma Georgina howl like snake-bitten wolves being given a shot of adrenaline. As the old saying goes ‘When the four-poster bed starts a-rockin’ don’t come a-knockin”, and this excellent sketch teaches us all a valuable lesson: Old people fuck. Even if they’re sharing a bed with two other people while being overlooked by their daughter and chocolate-enthusiast grandson. This sketch is stupid, it’s funny, it’s disgusting. It’s SNL at its absolute best.

9. Benihaha

6-year-old premature sociopath Adam Grossman goes for some flamboyant Japanese food with his nanny Miss Lily, alongside Jake and Tony, a newly-engaged couple that are certain to need an intensive hearing loss test after the encounter. Adam talks and looks forty years older than he actually is, but still has childish tendencies such as shouting at all times and using fingers to accompany the vital information that he is, as we already know, six years old.

What makes this sketch so funny is the combination of excellent writing and Jonah Hill’s inability to stop himself from laughing, which spirals Leslie Jones into some poorly-concealed moments of uncontrollable giggles. Chef Gail’s accidental shrimp spillage during her opening line is unplanned art, backed up by her lack of basic shrimp-tossing skills which is a standard requirement of any Benihaha chef. It’s a decent sketch, but Jonah Hill somehow manages to sell it with his total commitment to the role. We’ve all been sat near an Adam Grossman in a restaurant before, although unfortunately he wasn’t 6 years old. What’s this child going to be like at 18? Honestly, the exact same but with a soul patch and even louder speaking voice.

8. A Day In The Life Of Theresa May

A day in the life of Theresa May is depicted to the sweet angelic sound of Sara Bareilles, causing conflicting feelings for viewers unfamiliar with the PM’s poor leadership skills. An impartial viewer might almost feel a smidge of sympathy for this sad-looking woman who gets frowned at, bumped into, filmed against her wishes, even a thumbs-down from an impeccably-dressed toddler. The British stereotypes are rife, right down to the malicious seagull attack on some over-vinegared chips. Seagulls notoriously target deserving parties, especially ones that can’t deliver a decent Brexit deal that’s fair to all involved.

The aimless wandering through a non-specific part of the UK while being literally and metaphorically shit on would’ve been enough in itself, but we’re then treated to a Union Jack lyrca-clad 62-year-old Theresa May performing an interpretive dance alongside Sara Bareilles’ piano. Kate McKinnon proves her worth as an SNL great as she engages in a no-holds-barred makeout sesh with Kit Harrington playing the role of a generously-modelled Winston Churchill. This is fine art. Let’s overlook the completely unrealistic daydream conclusion that she solved Brexit. This is good comedy. This is nice.

7. To Have and Have Not

Adding John Mulaney to any sketch makes it 40% funnier, that is an undeniable fact proven true with this one. Reese De’What introduces us to a classic piece of 1944 war romance cinema history. From their lifeless kissing to overly formal tones, Steve and the unnamed lady’s relationship centres around her inability to whistle, a common problem facing many couples today. Both are visibly interested in doing the nasty together, but Kate’s character continues to get in her own way thanks to mix of desperation and eagerness to learn how to whistle.

What happened after the camera started rolling? Did they have sex? Or did they fire up an Encarta CD-ROM to find an instructional article about the correct way to whistle? That’s left open to the viewer’s interpretation as they sit back and marvel at Kate McKinnon’s ability to carry off even the most ridiculously-premised sketches with enviably great ease. Mulaney as Humphrey Bogart is merely an accessory to her prowess, like a side of cheesy mash with fillet steak. This is Kate McKinnon’s world and we’re all just living in it, fortunately.

6. R. Kelly Interview

It was a baller move to tackle this sensitive subject, but with Kenan and Leslie at the helm, things felt like they were onto a winner from the outset. Particularly for Kenan, this was his standout moment of the series where he delivered a flawless performance without missing a beat. The writing was beyond clever, peppered with musical intervals which begged the question, why didn’t the original interview setup take some artistic direction from someone with such precise comic timing as the SNL writing staff?

The quotes continued to roll in like a well-polished comedian’s Netflix special. “Y’all just keep your camera out in the open like that? Y’all are some freaks”, “It starts with a Q…” and finally “Is this a camera?”. This is a blessed SNL sketch. R. Kelly pins the titles of his hit songs down as being clues and in that moment, everything becomes clear. Kenan Thompson needs to be the starring role in every sketch going forward. It’s the only logical conclusion to draw from this whole experience. Also, Gayle King is hereby known as “Oprah’s friend” from now on.

5. Space Station Broadcast

Not to be overlooked by everything else, this sketch proves beyond reasonable doubt that Steve Carrell, Leslie Jones and Mikey Day are among the best fake space bobbing-up-and-down actors of their respective generations. They sold the concept of space from the outset and that paved the way for a very solid sketch to follow. The students’ questions were as stupid as one could exoect, as Captain Ed McGovern was tasked with fielding their queries while an airlock breach has very clearly decimated every animal on board the spaceship.

Things ramp up when a visibly deceased monkey floats into frame, much to the horrification of Hayley, “like the comet, and Eminem’s daughter”. A second monkey provides Captain McGovern with the perfect blank canvas for devastation as he snaps its arm clean off, which is quickly taken care of by his associate. Crisis tales of a faceless cat are discussed as viewers are instructed to mute the feed, giving us a glimpse into the realtime drama unfolding behind the scenes. It’s a really clever idea for a sketch, executed beautifully. Everyone is on form as the sketch comes to a close with the appearance of Svetlana’s frozen corpse hitting off the spaceship window in plain sight for all to see. The sketch works because we’re all suspicious that this kind of stuff secretly happens in space, so it’s nice to see it accurately depicted on screen once and for all.

4. Cheques

Cheques, am I right? Someone on the SNL writing team managed to do the impossible in making the concept and reality of cheques funny. Cheques don’t get enough PR anymore and that was thankfully rectified, albeit for a short while, with this incredible SNL season 44 sketch. The production value is perfect, nailing the voiceover, soundtrack and visual accompaniment perfectly. Did anyone even know how to fill in a cheque before Sandra Oh’s perfectly-manicured nails broke it down into an easily digestible go-to guide? Unlikely.

It’s a mundane concept. This shouldn’t be a good sketch, it has no right to slap as hard as it does. But it does. Even the line “Make sure to add the dash after the amount or God knows how many zeros they’ll add” brings back memories of business studies classes during the days of yore, where your teacher taught such senseless things as how to budget and do the accounts for a fictional fruit shop. Cheques is reminiscent of the Papyrus sketch from last season, which was also likely to be the fruits of an overactive imagination and limitless production support. To quote its top-voted YouTube comment “SNL is at its best when they do random shit like this”.

3. Earthquake News Report

Rachel Brosnahan deserves some sort of accolade for her ability to remain perfectly professional throughout this sketch, which is basically just a vehicle for getting away with saying sexually-explicit names on primetime Saturday night television. The ridiculousness of an earthquake striking in the exact moment before people were trying to legally change their names is just the tip of the iceberg with this sketch, with things rapidly descending into lunacy once we reach the point where search and rescue officials start to list off the victims they’ve found.

Ty Neadik, Ivan Jerganov, Keith Ka’weaf… every name is gold and possibly drafted by a group of young teens who simply wanted to express themselves in a productive yet menacingly-satisfactory way. Pete Davidson’s genuine laughter heightens Rachel and Aidy’s staggering ability to remain straight-faced throughout, especially when a name such as Holden Tudiks is being floated around. There’s a great pace about this sketch where it carries on a bit longer than you would expect, but it’s justified in its length as the jokes keep coming. How does everyone (except Pete) keep a straight face? It is witchcraft, plain and simple.

2. Bodega Bathroom

The eagerly-awaited sequel to last season’s incredible Diner Lobster sketch finally arrived and not a moment too late. This time, we delve into the world of a bodega bathroom, a concept us Europeans aren’t quite familiar with, but it’s not hard to figure out what’s going on. Kenan takes the musical lead yet again, meaning we’re all in capable hands for some structured lunacy. It’s another huge scale production, with many moving parts and potential room for error. Again, we’re reminded of the impressive feat that goes into producing such a spectacular sketch on live television in realtime.

There’s a palpable sense of giddiness among the cast as they do their best to take a sketch based around using a bodega bathroom seriously, complete with dancing and singing cockroaches, a top hat-wearing cat and a talking, grubby, faeces-hungry toilet bowl. Even the arrival of a lifelike Virgin Mary candle isn’t enough to pull you out of the insane world they’ve created. You simply buy into the madness, wholesale. With the arrival of some much-needed Oompa Loompas, the ensemble cast of SNL season 44 comes together to deliver a bananas-good performance in an utterly nonsensical sketch. More of this next season, please!

1. The Actress

Emma Stone puts herself in firm contention for a second Oscar with this heartfelt performance about a woman who simply wants to be the best actress that she can be. She was sick of commercials, instead wanting to branch out into more challenging roles. She arrives on set and we learn that it’s porn. The woman is going to be cheated on in a pornographic movie. Still, it’s clear that the role hasn’t thrown her. She’s eager to impress and quickly trades artistic visions with the director, desperate to please and subsequently deliver the best performance possible.

Finer details such as excess lube on the floor and the promise of a meal voucher after they wrap really add to the sincerity of this piece. You instantly want to root for this woman, hoping that she can be the best damn porn star who’s ever been cheated on by her nephew. Her attitude to work feels exactly like what Daniel Day Lewis would’ve been like on the set of his first role, presumably something similar to this one. “She has no past, no future. She exists only to be cheated on”, the director says. With that, our actress continues her delve into the character that she has named Deirdre. “Good, nice and flat”, he evaluates. She’s getting somewhere.

The montage of Deirdre’s thought process as she witnesses her husband cheating with her godson is art. Any doubt ever cast over Emma Stone’s acting ability was forever silenced with this role, whereby an actress, plays an actress, plays an actress. In the final moments when she tries to part ways with the character she’s meticulously studied over the course of the past four minutes, we reach SNL callback nirvana – the lube returns! This time it’s on her hands! What a whirlwind from start to finish. Congratulations to all involved, this is a stellar piece of sketch comedy and I’m comfortably hailing it The Best Sketch From SNL Season 44 According To Me.