This weekend put wrap on Season 41 of Saturday Night Live. After a major anniversary, we got ourselves a cast that went through some major overhaul and finally began to gel on many fronts. Lorne Michaels made no major cast shakeups during the off season, promoting Beck Bennett, Colin Jost, Kyle Mooney, and Sasheer Zamata to repertory status. Michael Che, Pete Davidson, and Leslie Jones remained featured players and were joined by Jon Rudnitsky.
It was also a big one for alumni as Darrell Hammond – who recently took over after the death of Don Pardo as announcer – saw a lot of screen time as he revived Donald Trump. Tracy Morgan made a return to stage and comedy after a major car accident kept him sidelined for over a year. However, they didn’t stop there because Larry David, a one time writer on the show (for just a season) came back in a big way and mined his likeness to Bernie Sanders with great effect. However, it wasn’t the season of alums as the current players did major lifting. Anchored by heavyweights like Kate McKinnon, who might be a bonafide movie star by season 42, Taran Killam, Jay Pharoah, Bobby Moynihan, and Cecily Strong.
With that being said, now is a good time to pull some of our favorite sketches from season 41.
“Farewell, Mr Bunting” – Episode 21 hosted by Fred Armisen
Yes, this sketch has the least amount of haze on it but it was easily one of the best of the year as an homage to Dead Poets Society but with a surprise twist that nobody saw coming and holds up to repeated views.
“Close Encounter” – Episode 7 hosted by Ryan Gosling
Kate McKinnon delivered one of her best new characters this season. A woman who had a very different alien encounter than the other two people in the room. Her performance cracked everyone in the sketch, including herself (which she doesn’t usually do). She even got host Ryan Gosling as the line, “coot coot and prune shoot!” became one for the ages.
“Bern Your Enthusiasm” – Episode 12 hosted by Larry David
When it was announced that Larry David was going to host SNL excitement was high. David’s episode was one of the best of the season and produced two terrific sketches that rank among the best of the season. In this sketch, the marriage of Bernie Sanders and Curb Your Enthusiasm hit critical mass in this perfectly crafted sketch.
“Hotline Bling” – Episode 4 hosted by Donald Trump
The Donald Trump episode of SNL might’ve been the worst of the season. Yet it had one redeeming factor and that we got this spot on spoof of Drake’s song, “Hotline Bling” chock full with Ed Grimley and terrible Trump dancing.
“A Thanksgiving Miracle” – Episode 6 hosted by Matthew McConnahey
With Adele at her peak from the fall, SNL decided to make sure we all know that we all need a little Adele in our lives.
“Abilify for Candidates” – Episode #1 hosted by Miley Cyrus
Our first commercial of season 41 and they went the political route offering up a cure for delusional candidates that thought they had the chance to win an election. It was between this sketch and “Trump Voters,” but in the end this one eeked the other out.
“Guns” – Episode 2 hosted by Amy Schumer
As Amy Schumer became a player in the gun debate, she utilized her time on SNL to ratchet up the absurdity of the situation, creating one of the most buzzed about sketches from her week of hosting.
“Meet Your Second Wife” – Episode 9 hosted by Amy Poehler and Tina Fey
When Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosted SNL, they took the opportunity send up the topic of second wives in a game show manner. This sketch was dark, too dark for some who raged about it online. It’s cringeworthy in the best way possible.
“Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base” – Episode 10 hosted by Adam Driver
When Adam Driver hosted SNL, we knew there would be plenty of Star Wars mockery. When they decided to pit Kylo Ren into the scenario of Undercover Boss. It all gelled fantastically. “I’m 90% sure Matt is Kylo Ren.”
“Teacher Trial” – Episode 11 hosted by Rhonda Rousey
This sketch proved to be fairly controversial because of the subject matter, but it did portray an honest reaction most young boys would have to a scandal such as this. Perfectly personified by Pete Davidson.
“FBI Simulator” – Episode 12 hosted by Larry David
As previously mentioned, Larry David’s episode of SNL produced two terrific sketches. In this one, David is playing just a cool dude Kevin Roberts. Can a bitch get a donut?! Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that there’s supercut of David losing his sh*t rehearsing said sketch.
“Test Screening” – Episode 13 hosted by Melissa McCarthy
Melissa McCarthy is always a solid SNL host. When she helmed an episode in season 41, there were many highlights, this one is perhaps the best example of McCarthy and her physical comedy.
“Naked & Afraid: Celebrity Edition” – Episode 16 hosted by Peter Dinklage
While some people raved about Dinklage’s episode talking about Space Pants, we all know the real winner of the night was him getting naked in the wild with Leslie Jones.
“American Ninja Warrior” – Episode 20 hosted by Drake
Watching Bobby Moynihan’s sheer determination to take a fall makes you laugh your ass off and sells this sketch. Then, when you know its coming the second time around it just makes it funner that by the time the third attempt where he’s literally trying to walk on water, you’re all in with Captain Tornado. Bobby Moynihan doesn’t nearly get the recognition he deserves for his physical efforts.