The Funniest 'SNL' Thanksgiving Sketches
Delivering Turkey Day laughs.
When you step back and realize that many of Saturday Night Live's best sketches were conceived, pitched, written, rewritten, produced, and aired in the frenzy of a week-long production, you... might start feeling a little exhausted. It's no surprise that SNL takes a good, long break during the Thanksgiving holiday—the cast and crew earned it. But we're thankful they still found time in their busy schedules to cook up sketches that capture the chaos, celebration, and familial angst of the holiday (which may be an ideal alternative in the heat of an SNL "on" week). In anticipation of the holiday, here are the best of SNL's Thanksgiving-themed sketches.
"Back Home Ballers"
Season 40, 2014
Kate McKinnon, Cecily Strong, Sasheer Zamata, Vanessa Bayer, Leslie Jones, Aidy Bryant, and guest Cameron Diaz all appear in this rap video about how sweet life is at your parents' house, where you don't have to care about a damn thing.
"Thanksgiving Song Auditions"
Season 22, 1996
Once upon a time, SNL did weird audition sketches that did not involve celebrity impressions or goofball takes on classic characters. In this bit, the National Endowment for the Arts wants to fill a void in the cultural world by commissioning a Thanksgiving song. The cast parades through the audition process with an array of bizarre caricatures.
Season 5, 1979
Four angsty thirty-somethings (Bill Murray, Laraine Newman, Jane Curtin, and Paul Shaffer) return home for Thanksgiving dinner only to find themselves seated at the basement kids' table. Like the '70s version of "Back Home Ballers," they immediately devolve into their childhood selves.
Season 42, 2016
In 2013, Edward Norton did a version of this sketch for Halloween candy. It was extremely weird. Kristen Wiig one-ups him with her take on Thanksgiving delicacies, which comes off a little like The Silence of the Lambs.
"Deep Thoughts: Thanksgiving Advice"
Season 17, 1992
If you hate Thanksgiving food, writer Jack Handey has a psychopathic alternative for you.
"Guy Fieri on Thanksgiving"
Season 36, 2010
We're fans of the larger-than-life Guy Fieri and his unabashed devotion to Donkey Sauce. But Bobby Moynihan's impression of the guy (which Fieri has acknowledged he loves) is a ridiculous joy that's never been better than in this Weekend Update segment. Only one man can teach you how to stuff a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey inside a rabbit inside a pig inside of a baby cow inside of a big cow inside of a horse inside of a Cornish game hen.
Season 19, 1993
The 1990s "Clear Craze" demanded full transparency in items like watches, TVs, Game Boys, and even Pepsi. SNL lampooned it all in a commercial for the most disgusting food to follow the trend.
"Vincent Price's Thanksgiving Special"
Season 31, 2005
Bill Hader's Vincent Price is one of those rare, esoteric SNL impression that clicks and clicks and clicks again. Less horror spoof than a love letter to the nadirs of golden-age Hollywood careers, this "Thanksgiving Special" is top-tier thanks to appearances by Ricky Ricardo (Fred Armisen) and Lucille Ball (Eva Longoria).
"The Californians: Thanksgiving"
Season 38, 2012
There's no hinting at the totally tubular joys within this sketch, bro. You have to hear the gnarly jokes and hip Cali accents for yourself, bro. Thanksgiving with the Californians is for real better than driving down the 405, bro.
Season 16, 1990
This is a one-joke sketch and it's an amazing one-joke sketch. Do you remember Reebok Pump, the shoe you "pumped" up to cushion around your ankles? Now it comes in turkey form—complete with '90s hip-hop rap.
"Debbie Downer: Thanksgiving Dinner"
Season 30, 2004
"Boy, the traffic was a disaster coming up!" "Nothing compared to the disaster the Chinese are going through. They're still digging out from typhoon season, just in time for the bird flu to take even more lives." You know, we'd still take Debbie Downer at the Thanksgiving dinner over Loud Political Uncle.
"A Thanksgiving Miracle"
Season 41, 2015
Think back to 2015—what a time that was, when everyone could be united by the release of a new Adele record. Basically, this sketch consists of the cast lip syncing to "Hello," but really that's all you need.
Season 39, 2015
Bless the genius of Vanessa Bayer for this vaguely horrifying sketch where she plays a literal turkey that her boyfriend (Josh Hutcherson) brings home for Thanksgiving dinner as his date. It's a tragic love story that ends with Bayer, in full turkey suit, getting pelted with the meat of her fellow fowl as the bird is carved for dinner.
"Target Thanksgiving Ad"
Season 47, 2021
This parody ad for Target has all the annoying family member stereotypes, including the old lady who just wants to talk about who died, the rowdy kids, and the inappropriate grandpa. Host Simu Liu steals the sketch with his impression of "dude who won't eat meat and just wants to talk about crypto."