It’s been a middling 2018 for Saturday Night Live in a lot of ways.
The Trumpworld-skewering cold opens, once a weekly highlight, have fallen off a cliff and now more resemble a burning wreckage of forced wisecracks and ill-conceived ideas. Then there was the Kanye thing. And the Pete Davidson thing. It’s been a rocky ride for SNL fans.
But! The highlights soared so high. We got a few all time winners this year, and a bunch of others that may not make the 50th anniversary special but were still extremely entertaining and funny. It turned into a long enough list in the end that we had to whittle it down to our 10 favorites.
Here they all are! Enjoy the laughs.
10. Teacher Fell Down
Teacher Fell Down is what we on Mashable’s entertainment team like to think of as peak “weird SNL.” It kinda comes out of nowhere and it’s not really about anything in particular, but the moment it captures is so inherently weird, you’re laughing hysterically before you realize it.
In this sketch, we weren’t the only ones laughing. Pete Davidson, Aidy Bryant, guest host Jonah Hill, even the normally unflappable Kate McKinnon — they’re all visibly struggling to hold it together here. And why wouldn’t they? The sketch is about a teacher who falls down in front of her class and immediately launches into some kind of bizarre, overwrought performance art piece.
9. Natalie rap 2
Portman starred in this explicit sequel to her equally raunchy 2006 rap, complete with an Andy Samberg cameo. She’s still insane, but with updated references! Time’s up, bitch.
8. Kavanaugh hearing cold open
From Matt Damon’s very first, very angry “WHAT?!” this sketch is a keeper.
Most of 2018’s politics-themed cold opens ranged from “just fine” to “what were they thinking?” but this skewering of accused sexual assaulter and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s much-publicized congressional hearing is *chef’s kiss*. Damon is just as incoherent and nonsensical in his own defense as the real guy.
Also: don’t overlook the comedic fire from Damon’s supporting cast: Aidy Bryant and SNL alum Rachel Dratch(!!) demonstrated superhuman strength as they kept their cool in the face of Damon’s angry-guy-on-trial antics.
7. Political Musical
One of SNL‘s most New York sketches explores the sometimes trying experience of local theater and social commentary. The all-white cast comments on immigration, #MeToo, and more, building up to a final song that maybe…tells people not to vote?
The ridiculous songs advertise a nightmare play from the most Millennial Millennials, but we wouldn’t say no to this as a comedy musical.
6. Black Jeopardy with Chadwick Boseman
When Chadwick Boseman was booked to host SNL at the height of Black Panther‘s popularity, any real fan of the show hoped this would happen. And it did.
T’Challa’s appearance on Black Jeopardy finds comedy in skewering the societal imbalance between utopian, fictional Wakanda and a too-real USA that’s still built on top of racist foundations. But the absolute highlight, the meme-worthy moment, comes when T’Challa starts to get it.
His exchange with Kenan Thompson’s host about a white lady’s bland, unseasoned potato salad is perfect. Just perfect. (There’s also a random and completely unexpected Coming To America reference.)
5. Diner Lobster
“Diner Lobster” combined the show’s musically inclined cast with a Les Miserables parody and a marvelous Weird SNL premise from the John Mulaney archives. It is a ride from start to finish, one that either went completely over your head or had you scouring YouTube to rewatch it within minutes.
4. Midterm ad
It’s easy to forget this now — probably because we’ve collectively blocked it out — but there was a fair amount of anxiety leading into Election Day 2018, before the fabled Blue Wave of Democratic wins came crashing down on the Trump-enabling Republican party.
OK fine. “Fair amount” is an understatement. We were shitting ourselves. And SNL‘s midterm ad perfectly captured that fear, distilling down into something funny.
Sure, Kate McKinnon’s glass-shattering scream at the very end is how many of us were feeling deep down, but it was nice to have that shared moment of realization: Oh hey, it’s true. Everyone feels like we’re a few heartbeats away from a literal apocalypse. Cool!
3. Next men’s deodorant ad
As Idris Elba recently (and obviously) pointed out, it’s only a scary time for men right now if they have something to hide. For them, there’s Next: For Men, an antiperspirant for the sexual harasser counting down his time. Alex Moffat and Kyle Mooney star as men in Hollywood – a movie star and a comedian, respectively – while Will Ferrell sweats it out (or doesn’t, thanks to Next!) as an office worker expecting the news to break any day.
“Next” perfectly pokes fun at the men who claimed anxiousness in Hollywood and across industries now that sexual harassment actually has consequences. You can’t hide your past, but you can hide your pit stains.
2. Tucci Gang
It’s amazing how much Sam Rockwell looks like Stanley Tucci when you plop a bald cap on his head, isn’t it?
SNL‘s parody of the Lil’ Pump track “Gucci Gang” wouldn’t be half as entertaining as it turned out without the completely bizarre premise: stanning for the Stan. Rockwell is joined by Lil’ Pump stand-in Pete Davidson for a wild music video about Tucci that spares no praise for the celebrated actor’s entire catalog, from Big Night to The Devil Wears Prada.
1. Dinner Discussion
No video before or since has so deftly captured the anxiety and confusion of the current moment as this sketch and its evergreen refrain: “Careful…” A January op-ed about Aziz Ansari challenged the #MeToo movement on how we respond to stories that are more uncomfortable than illegal (and poorly reported).
Many of us lived through conversations like this one in the post-babe-dot-net universe, and SNL showed us that it’s okay to be at a total loss for how to respond (or to prefer magicking yourself out of this dimension as an alternative). Right now, we’re all learning. We just have to be careful.