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The Funniest 'SNL' Sketches of 2017

best saturday night live sketches 2017

The Trump era has already given the world its share of hard-to-believe events. Among them: Saturday Night Live's highest viewership in more than two decades. While the current White House has certainly provided the necessary fodder to help NBC's comedy powerhouse earn can't-miss-TV status, even the nonpolitical sketches have felt sharper. In celebration of SNL's return to relevance, we've ranked our favorite moments -- the silliest, the most surprising, and the most potent -- from 2017. Please re-enjoy:

40. "Movie Interview"

Episode date: January 14
"Now more than ever, artists must speak truth to power." That's exactly what the team behind Hot Robot 3: Journey to Boob Mountain set out to do, according to this shot at self-important press junkets.

39. "Welcome Video"

Episode date: February 4
When people wondered what Trump's travel ban would mean for US Customs, Beck Bennett's ruthlessly intense video editor provided the answers. Jarring and insane answers, but answers nonetheless.

38. "The Chosen One"

Episode date: October 7
For fans of Pete Davidson's Chad, this was like celebrating Christmas early. (And then, of course, there was Chadmas -- just as good, and it gave us the "Doink Doink.") Thanks be to Chad.

37. "Angel"

Episode date: November 4
New castmember Heidi Gardner was having somewhat of a quiet season until she hit the Weekend Update desk as Angel, "Every Boxer's Girlfriend From Every Movie About Boxing Ever." Her self-explanatory character stole that week's show, earning big laughs by endlessly threatening to take her kids to her sister's house -- and encouraging Colin Jost to take note in increasingly not-so-subtle ways. Hopefully we'll see Angel again soon.

36. "Jeff Sessions Gump"

Episode date: March 4
Whether impersonating politicians or celebs, MVP Kate McKinnon has been damn near perfect this year. Her inspired take on Jeff Sessions -- replete with Gump-isms in this cold open -- merits special appreciation.

35. "WikiLeaks Cold Open"

Episode date: November 18
Alex Moffat and Mikey Day are so good at making Eric and Donald Trump Jr. look so dumb. Their Update appearances are great, but this was the best.

34. "New Wife"

Episode date: November 4
The end of this is the kind of gold that happens when good writing meets a good host getting pimped into delightfully unfamiliar territory.

33. "Gretchen"

Episode date: December 9
God bless Michael Che. The Weekend Update co-host (and newly appointed co-head writer!) tackled his critics by going "undercover" as Gretchen, a super-liberal white woman. It was an eye-opening experience for everyone. 

32. "Visit With Santa"

Episode date: December 9
This year was a generally batshit-crazy year. Come Christmastime, it was hard not to wonder about the legitimacy of Saint Nick's Naughty List. Take President Trump, for example: With at least 19 women accusing him of sexual misconduct, was he getting... presents or coal? Not sure, but those are the kinds of uncomfortable questions this mall Santa (Kenan Thompson) got, and it was great.

31. "Office Phone Call"

Episode date: December 16
You know that horrible after-lunch feeling when you're stuck in an important meeting, but then your nana calls, and it's an emergency and you just gotta go meet her in the fifth-floor bathroom to handle your "crisis"? Yeah, well Doug (played perfectly by an extremely antsy Kevin Hart) had that feeling the other day and to our delight, it kinda ruined him.

30. "The Race"

Episode date: December 2
Too often, the Beck Bennett-Kyle Mooney sketches get cut. Thankfully, this surreal race did not.

29. "Zoo Pornographer"

Episode date: March 11
Things went south veeeeeeeeeery quickly on this morning news segment, when a word mixup turned Mikey Day's animal photographer, Danny Bangs, into an animal pornographer. The chyron never caught up, sound bites took on multiple meanings, a scandal ensued. Simple premise, excellent execution.

28. "Themyscira"

Episode date: October 7
With Gal Gadot as its host, SNL couldn't resist spoofing Wonder Woman. Two lesbian voyagers (Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon) docked at Themyscira, hoping to address the gay subtext of the movie's all-women island. Instead, the Amazon warriors unintentionally teased their visitors with compliments, shows of wrestling, and one big kiss. "It's like we're in a porn," Bryant quipped, "but the plumber is just genuinely there to fix the pipes."

27. "Claire from HR"

Episode date: November 11
A bad close to the year, which has seen a near endless string of sexual abuse revelations coming out of Hollywood and D.C., prompted Cecily Strong's Claire from HR to issue Colin Jost and SNL viewers a stern reminder in the form of a sexual harassment quiz. There were no wrong answers -- only super wrong answers. Strong's gags made the character a winning watch. So much so, Jost could barely keep it together.

26. "Olive Garden"

Episode date: March 11
Fact: People in Olive Garden commercials act like they've never seen food before. Scarlett Johansson, Mikey Day, Leslie Jones, and Kenan Thompson took the idea to the next level in this long, but deliciously goofy behind-the-scenes parody.

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25. "Celebrity Family Feud: Time Travel Edition"

Episode date: April 15
Since SNL's "Celebrity Family Feuds" are typically clown cars of cast impressions, the sketches can sometimes drag. But Jimmy Fallon's mastery of John Travolta here made for an exciting, and truly impressive, instance of seeing double. (Note: NBC no longer provides video of this sketch online.)

24. "Come Back, Barack"

Episode date: November 18
Was De-Von-Tré's R&B-Thanksgiving homage to Barack Obama as good as last year's "Jingle Barack"? No. But was it still pretty great? YEP.

23. "Gift Wrap"

Episode date: December 9
Leslie Jones got to wrestle with the "live" aspect of Saturday Night Live when host James Franco shot a mouthful of stage blood, mama bird-style, right into her mouth. "You fucking traumatized me," she told Franco afterward. "Blood went in my mouth and then I threw up in my mouth and I had to swallow it so I wouldn't throw up on national fucking live TV." This was already a good sketch, but knowing that, while seeing her hilariously convincing grunts and rough line deliveries, took it to the next level.

22. "Career Retrospective"

Episode date: November 4
When Larry David's ad man sat down for this lifetime achievement award ceremony, he probably knew he was going to have to sit through a brief retrospective. What he probably didn't realize was how poorly the problematic refrains of his earliest campaigns were going to play.

21. "Totino's with Kristen Stewart"

Episode date: February 4
The best part about this year's Super Bowl? No, it wasn't the comeback that turned every Boston fan into The Worst. It wasn't Gisele Bündchen's phone. It was this Totino's masterpiece, complete with life-changing product placement and side-splitting twists.

20. "Henrietta & The Fugitive"

Episode date: September 30
Ryan Gosling played a real bad boy in this send-up of old-timey cinematic romance. He was on the run from the cops, hiding a gun and trying to win over the true love of his life: a lonely, lonely hen (Aidy Bryant). It was all strange, mystifying, and extremely dumb in the best of ways -- you'll see that even the actors agree.

19. "Another Close Encounter"

Episode date: September 30
If Ryan Gosling's hosting SNL, you can bank on seeing Ms. Rafferty. The movie star reunited with Kate McKinnon's oft-naked cosmic curiosity this fall for an alien abduction sequel that centered on her butt -- the aliens were "like shoppers storming a Wal-Mart on Black Friday." As with the story of the first close encounter, everyone onstage had a hard time keeping their shit together.

18. "Where in the World Is Kellyanne Conway?"

Episode date: May 6
Donald Trump's confidante was such a staple of morning news programs, swooping in for every instance of damage control, that SNL had to do a sketch about her needing a day off. And then, much like criminal mastermind Carmen Sandiego, she appeared to vanish. What happened? Unfortunately, the gumshoes in this pitch-perfect spoof didn't know and really, really, really didn't care.

17. "Family Feud: Harvey Family Thanksgiving"

Episode date: November 18
When Steve Harvey's family went up against the Didricksons -- Carol (Aidy Bryant), Peter (Beck Bennett), Justin (Mikey Day), and Cecil (Chance the Rapper) -- they weren't expecting to play family reunion. Since the Feud sketches are usually excuses for random celebrity impressions (see above), it was refreshing to get an installment that felt more focused. The Cecil revelation had Kenan Thompson and Chance making lovably dumb magic.

16. "Couples Game Night"

Episode date: May 6
What's supposed to be a simple guess-this-theme game quickly evolves into an impressive, surprisingly destructive homage to Stephen Sondheim and Kelsey Grammer. Frasier's "theme song" never sounded better.

15. "Complicit"

Episode date: March 11
SNL's potent perfume commercial has proven to be one of the better auxiliary Trump thrashings of 2017, holding the president's favorite daughter accountable for her proximity to the White House madness by calling her "a feminist, an advocate, a champion for women, but, like, how?" Scarlett Johansson's smile was the icing on the cake.

14. "La La Land Interrogation"

Episode date: January 21
Aziz Ansari's episode quickly became a standout after airing, thanks in large part to the comedian's funny, sincere, and critical opening monologue. The rest of the show came packed with no dearth of highlights, including this ever-relatable La La Land jab, which held the host hostage for criticizing Damien Chazelle's awards-season powerhouse.

13. "Beck and Kyle"

Episode date: November 11
Kyle's behind-the-scenes "relationship" with Leslie Jones, which continues to be one of this cast's best (and most elaborate) recurring jokes, finally caused some major drama this season. Poor Jost.

12. "Trump People's Court"

Episode date: February 11
In a perfect world, Anthony Atamanuik, king of the Trump impression, would be SNL's commander-in-chief. Alas, we get Alec Baldwin, reserved about having the gig, though undeniably good. Many of this year's Trump cold opens have played like rehashed lists of headlines, but the above "People's Court" sketch allowed Baldwin to shine in a refreshingly absurd situation.

11. "Kellyanne Conway"

Episode date: January 21
"And when the world goes up in flames, at least for now they knew my name." This near shot-for-shot play on Chicago's "Roxie," with McKinnon prancing around as Trump's truth-massaging consigliere, mercilessly satirized its target in show-stopping fashion.

10. "American Girl Store"

Episode date: December 2
We know SNL can lampoon just about any serious subject -- the White House, sexual misconduct, the White House AND sexual misconduct -- but let's not forget the show's writers can just as handily whip up original tragicomedy of their own. That's what happened with this disaster at the Canyon Galleria Shopping Center, where an underground gas main exploded and almost killed the patrons of an American Girl Store. Fortunately, as they say, not all heroes wear capes. Or fly or have cool gadgets. Some, like this one, played brilliantly by Mikey Day, just happen to be in the right place at the right time. Definitely just buying a gift.

9. "Bedroom"

Episode date: January 21
Especially crafty writing paved the way for Melissa Villaseñor's buzzkilling dirty talk and unappealing impressions in what felt like the lost Master of None episode we didn't deserve. Also, good reminder that Shanghai Knights exists.

8. "Beers"

Episode date: November 4
Purposely terrible acting. Inexplicable transitions and establishing shots. Random outbursts of violence. This dark parody of '90s sitcoms is painfully perfect.

7. "Kellywise"

Episode date: October 14
This parody swapped out the Georgie and Pennywise from Andrés Muschietti's recent IT remake for Anderson Cooper (Alex Moffat) and Kellyanne Conway (Kate McKinnon) to poke fun at Conway's desperation and TV news' reliance on the Trump administration. McKinnon killed. "OK, so Puerto Rico actually was worse before Hurricane Maria, and the hurricane actually did blow some buildings back together," Kellywise said from the sewers, adding, "OK, so Secretary Tillerson did not call the president a 'moron' -- they were sharing a sundae, and the president asked if he wanted more sprinkles, and the secretary said, 'More on,'" before baring rows of terrifying teeth. Poor Coopy. Poor TV news.

6. "Welcome to Hell"

Episode date: December 2
Following October's dam-breaking Harvey Weinstein news, several powerful men in virtually every industry were outed as habitual predators. So many that it caused a weird sense of public shock: "Dang, is this the world now?" With lollipops, popsicles, and a very poppy music video, SNL lampooned the painfully naïve reaction and put things into perspective. For women everywhere -- and for a long time -- that's been the damn world.

5. "Papyrus"

Episode date: September 30
Remember the Avatar logo? It was kind of "tribal yet futuristic." Yeah, or basically the Papyrus font -- the same thing used for hookah bars, Shakira merch, and off-brand teas. It is, as Ryan Gosling's hilarious descent into madness portrays, an unshakable nightmare.

4. "Basketball Scene"

Episode date: April 15
The background players in this basketball movie were great at saying "'sup," popping the rock, and doing bellyflops. The one thing they weren't great at? Actually playing basketball. Amazingly incompetent.

3. "Pizza Town"

Episode date: January 21
This year's "Space Pants" was the beautifully simple, weird, and cheesy escape we needed immediately following Trump's inauguration. Bobby Moynihan's animatronic drumming, in particular, was worthy of a trophy. Or a pizza.

saturday night live on nbc

2. "Before the Show"

Episode date: April 15
Potential traumatic-flashback alert for theater nerds -- or people familiar with this Red Room clip. The acting, enthusiasm, and awkwardness in SNL's middle-school rendition of Legally Blonde: The Musical were almost too spot-on, the kind of cringe that hurt so, so good. (Note: NBC no longer provides video of this sketch online.)

1. "Sean Spicer Press Conference"

Episode date: February 4
The gum. The dollies. The podium. Melissa McCarthy's recurring role as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was a godsend this year. The very best was her first militant appearance, notable for turning terrible news items into laughs and genuinely irking the president. Like Atamanuik's Trump, McCarthy's Spicey was five-star comedic activism, a surprise that will be hard to forget. 

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Sean Fitz-Gerald is a staff writer at Thrillist Entertainment. Find him on Twitter @srkfitzgerald.
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