Keenan Thompson will make history this fall for the longest running tenure for an SNL cast member. As an avid SNL fan since adolescence, I have very few complaints about Thompson’s reign, as he’s added so much more winners than losers. My favorite being his singing obsessed ‘What’s Up with That’ talk show host Diondre Cole whose proclivity for breaking into song won’t allow his long-suffering guests to get a word in. As someone who also routinely breaks into song with the slightest provocation, I can relate. Jason Sudeikis in the back doing the Running Man and Roger Rabbit in a red Adidas tracksuit and a gold rope chain is just a bonus. I also love Thompson’s cameos as the no-nonsense PE teacher who reprimands presumably ‘urban’ students for their increasingly bizarre and dangerous shenanigans in the ‘Principal Frye’ skits (aka: ‘Attention Teachers and Students’). We all know that teacher who thinks he’s a badass and steps in when he perceives the other teachers are being too soft (shout out to Mr. Garvey). He also plays the only iteration of Steve Harvey that I can bring myself to watch as he mocks Harvey’s Family Feud hosting gig and his decade’s long penchant for ghastly suits and accessories (“[Tie] Knots as thick as Shaq’s Fists!”).
There are dozens of recurring character/skits that have claimed their place in the American zeitgeist (Two Wild and Crazy Guys, Stuart Smalley, The Cheerleaders, The Roxbury Guys, Mary Katherine Gallagher, Wayne’s World, Debbie Downer, Target Lady) and lexicon (“Well isn’t that special?”; “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and doggone it, people like me!”; “Bu-bye!”; “Daaa Beeears!”), here are my favorites:
Brian Fellow’s Safari Planet (Tracy Morgan)
A favorite phrase(s): “That’s crazy!” and “I’m Brian Fellows!”
This is absurdist humor at its best. The skits open up with the disclaimer “Brian Fellows is not an accredited zoologist. Nor does he hold an advanced degree in any of the environmental sciences. He is simply an enthusiast young man with a 6th-grade education and an abiding love for all God’s creatures.” His ignorance of animal knowledge is apparent as he responds to every fact spouted off by the animal handlers with “That’s crazy!” Each animal is introduced with a bellow reminiscent of Oprah’s exuberance for bread and he uses deadpan delivery and an implied feminine quality (glossy lips, crossed legs and enthusiastic neck-rolling) to project ridiculous anthropomorphic attitudes onto hapless animals (“What’s up with that beaver? He seems snotty.” and “I bet that cow is all stuck up with its big head.”)
Amber, the one-legged hypoglycemic (Amy Poehler)
A favorite phrase(s): “Jealous?”
Amy Poehler’s hilariously defiant, disaffected character Amy made her first appearance as a contestant on a spoof of Bret Michael’s ‘Rock of Love’, where she boasts about “rocking one leg”. Her subsequent appearances on spoofs of reality shows like The Swan, America’s Next Top Model and The Bachelor show her confidently detailing her competitive ‘advantages’ including “a hardcore learning disability, hypoglycemia, Lyme disease, constant horniness, and a bad case of bed bugs” When she inevitably loses, she makes a flatulent exit before shouting “Yeah, I farted. Jealous?” “Jealous?” remains my staple anxiety diffusing spiritual practice anytime I’m having a bad hair, outfit, or all-around day.
Celebrity Jeopardy (Will Ferrell & Darrell Hammond):
Favorite phrase(s): “Suck it, Trebek!” and anything Alex Trebek says in resigned disgust
Sean Connery (Darrell Hammond) brilliantly and maniacally taunts a beleaguered Alex Trebek (Will Ferrell) by insulting him (“Suck it, Trebek!”), insinuating sexual relations with Trebek’s mother and explicitly mangling the names of Jeopardy categories such as Therapists=The rapists, Who Reads?=Whore Ads. Will Ferrell in a rare moment of playing the straight man amazingly portrays a consummate professional at his wits end (“I stand before you a broken and miserable man”) with impossibly juvenile and absurd behavior from celebrity contestants despite his best efforts to include categories designed to give them a leg up (i.e., “Is this a hat?” “Colors that end in ‘urple’” and “Anything”).
Dysfunctional Family Dinner (Will Ferrell, Ana Gasteyer, and Sarah Michelle Gellar):
A favorite phrase(s): “I own a Dodge Stratus! You don’t talk to me like that!” and “I wish you weren’t a liar.”
Although the clinking of silverware against china far exceeds actual dialogue in this skit, they make the words count. Its banal family talk peppered with angry outbursts, most specifically the father (Will Ferrell) justifying why he doesn’t deserve to be spoken to disrespectfully by his family (“I work too hard! I can do 100 push-ups in 20 minutes! I own a Dodge Stratus!”).
Shanna K Housers Contributor