Just last weekend, comedian and former Saturday Night Live cast member Martin Short delivered quite the holiday spectacular. As a result, I thought now might also be the time to dive back into the past of the late night sketch comedy series to remember some of the classic holiday hilarity from years past.
Below you’ll find this writer’s picks for the 12 best holiday sketches from SNL, and they span decades and include cast members like Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Myers, Adam Sandler, Bill Hader and honorary cast members such as Steve Martin, Justin Timberlake and Alec Baldwin.
#12. I Wish It Was Christmas Today – This isn’t so much funny as it is charming, and it also helps that people loved this little song enough to have it revived eight different times after debuting in 2000. Below is the original version, but you can find the various renditions of the song on Hulu from later years. Horatio Sans, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Kattan and Tracy Morgan are always the ones belting out this catchy Christmas tune, and that’s pretty cool.
#11. Irwin Mainway and Mainway Toys – Reaching back in time, this is a classic sketch featuring Dan Aykroyd as a shady toy salesman with products for kids that might not be so safe. This was one of those sketches that survived long enough to penetrate my childhood viewings of Saturday Night Live around the holidays, and even as a grade school kid, the “Bag of Broken Glass” joke was part of my schoolyard humor repertoire.
#10. Christmastime for the Jews – For all those Jewish families who don’t celebrate Christmas and would rather hit the local movie theater and grab some Chinese food, this little TV Funhouse animated sketch captures the magic that comes during the special time of year when the Jews take to the streets and run the city. Using the classic claymation style that Christmas specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer employed in the 60s, it’s another classic that I watched as a kid, but didn’t necessarily understand until I was older.
#9. Drunk Uncle – This is easily one of my favorite recent Weekend Update correspondents, and Bobby Moynihan thankfully hasn’t run him into the ground like some of the other recurring characters on the show. Almost everyone has a relative like this who gets a little toasty around the holidays, and doesn’t make all that much sense once they start running off at the mouth. “Put that in your iPad and smoke it.”
#8. Stefon – Yes, while Drunk Uncle has only been around for a handful of sketches, Bill Hader as frequent clubber Stefon has returned for plenty of suggestions (all of them terrible) for tourists to enjoy when they’re in New York City. One of these days, someone should recreate any of his suggestions for a party (maybe not).
#7. Steve Martin’s Christmas Wish – It’s a common misconception that Steve Martin was a cast member on Saturday Night Live (especially since he has his own Best of Steve Martin DVD from the show), in fact the comedian has simply hosted the show 15 times (a record only just recently broken by Alec Baldwin). And this is truly one of Martin’s best sketches, and puts his classic sense of humor on display.
#6. Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood – This is one of the oldest Saturday Night Live sketches I ever saw, and as a child who religiously watched Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, this just cracked me up. Easily one of Eddie Murhpy’s most memorable characters, Mr. Robinson’s childish whimsy and smile just made all his despicable actions seems wholly acceptable.
#5. Glengarry Glen-Christmas – It’s the inside-joke premise that makes this sketch work so well, but if you haven’t seen Glengarry Glen Ross, the sketch is probably only about 25% as funny. Alec Baldwin reprises his role from the James Foley film written by David Mamet (based on his play), but in the form of a hard ass elf coming down on the employees at Santa’s workshop. It’s almost a word-for-word recreation of a scene from the movie, but with Christmas themed replacements here and there. If you haven’t seen Glengarry Glen Ross, fix that problem and then watch this sketch.
#4. Dick in a Box – Who would’ve thought that Justin Timberlake would be in one of the most iconic sketches in recent Saturday Night Live memory? It helps that this came as one of the now infamous SNL Digital Shorts, but along with Lazy Sunday, this helped give cast member Andy Samberg and writers Jorma Taccone and Akiva Shaffer a career as the fake rap trio The Lonely Island, and Timberlake still joins them occasionally on their own tracks.
#3. It’s a Wonderful Life Alternate Ending – A Christmas classic gets an unlikely DVD supplement in the form of an alternate ending that features Dana Carvey doing his patented Jimmy Stewart impression to great effect. It’s fun to take such a famous holiday classic and give it a fun spin like this. And you really can’t go wrong with most sketches involving Dana Carvey from the 90s.
#2. The Hanukkah Song – This and Lunch Lady Land helped give Adam Sandler a career in comedy music for a little while, but no song would ever eclipse the appeal of this holiday tune. With a list of celebrities who are (probably) Jewish, Sandler gives a rare dose of comedy to Jewish audiences around Christmas time. What makes this all the more charming is the fact that it’s just Sandler and his guitar at the Weekend Update desk, and there’s not a band or backtrack to help him out.
#1. The Delicious Dish: Schweddy Balls – Good times. Alec Baldwin has a voice made for radio, so it makes perfect sense that he would stop by NPR’s Delicious Dish segment, but we never knew that he would bring out his balls. This is no doubt the best Delicious Dish segment that Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon ever made, and is one of the sketches that Baldwin is most remembered for in his record 16 times hosting (among countless surprise guest appearances).
So there you have it. Some of the best holiday laughs from decades of Saturday Night Live. Here’s hoping this brings some laughter to you this holiday season and that you enjoy some laughs of your own with family and friends.
Saturday Night Live returns on January 19th with host Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook, The Hunger Games) and musical guest The Lumineers at 11:30/10:30c on NBC.
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