Forty-seven years of laughs: the best and worst of Saturday Night Live’s latest season

Erin Burchill ‘25, Entertainment Editor

Saturday Night Live (SNL) has been one of the biggest names in comedy since the 70s; the casts consist of talented comedians and actors in each season, every episode features a new musical guest, and the writers on staff never fail to impress with the sketches they come up with—well, that is, most of the time. There is a reason why some viewers believe the show has not been funny since the 70s. There have been some great hits, like “More Cowbell,” but there have also been some serious misses, like Elon Musk’s “Wario” sketch. 

Although it is not yet finished, SNL’s 47th season has been, as the saying goes, so far so good; this article will take a look at the best and worst hosts, musical guests, and skits of the season.

Best Hosts:

Rami Malek is not an actor usually seen in comedic roles, but he pulled off his job as host very well. His laid-back personality works well with his monologue, where he remarks on preferring villains over heroes and gives a shout out to his family. He starred in a number of high-quality skits and played his roles well in all of them.

Jason Sudeikis is a big comedy guy, and his debut as a host on SNL did not change this at all. After his 10 years as a sketch writer and a cast member on the show—and his many roles in comedy films and TV shows—he has had nearly two decades of experience and careful practice in crafting his style of comedy. It works extremely well with his monolog and his characters in sketches throughout the episode, and made for some moments of great hilarity.

Willem Dafoe, like Malek, has been known more for serious characters in his films, but his integration into comedy went very smoothly. He showcased a typical Wisconsinite accent during his monolog and starred in every sketch, with most of his jokes being of the more racy variety. He played it cool and held his composure, never breaking character and taking his not so serious roles very seriously.

Worst Hosts:

Though Will Forte was a great cast member back in the early 2000s, he was not a very stand-out host. Being absent from the show for over a decade may have caused him to lose a bit of his comedic touch, with his monolog being a bit of a cop-out. Furthermore, when comparing sketches to his older characters and Weekend Update appearances, there is a significant difference, one that is a bit disappointing to see. While this difference could be the result of changing comedy styles on the show itself, it likely can also be attributed to Forte himself.

Kim Kardashian West was, in a way, set up to fail when she was chosen as a host on SNL. She disappointed in nearly all of the sketches she was cast in, and her monolog was mainly her cracking a flat joke, making fun of herself for being famous for no reason, and then waiting to get a few laughs from the audience. There is almost no need to watch this episode to know that it is underwhelming.

Best Musical Guests:

Måneskin has been gaining popularity for the past few months, so their recent appearance on SNL was well timed and, dare I say, nearly perfect. The band played two of their most popular songs, “Beggin’” and “I WANNA BE YOUR SLAVE,” in their typical extravagant fashion, both literally and figuratively. The lead singer, Damiano David, led the group with amazing live vocals, and the rest of the band worked their respective instruments with immense talent.

Billie Eilish, one of the youngest hosts and performers in the history of SNL, performed two songs from her new album Happier than Ever alongside her brother, Finneas O’Connell. Since her short hiatus during the height of the pandemic, she seemed to really find who she was, and that has been reflected in her music and in her personality. She has fun while she is performing, using her natural vocal talents to amaze viewers and audience members.

The decision to feature Taylor Swift as a musical guest this season was likely one of the smartest moves the show has made all year. After her newly re-released song and accompanying short film All Too Well blew up across the internet, she was bound to get lots of attention performing on SNL. She played guitar and sang her aforementioned hit song, living up to the immense recognition she has been receiving as of late.

Worst Musical Guests: 

Katy Perry has not been a significantly popular musician since the 2010s, and for good reason; her songs have gone downhill in terms of catchiness and her personal style seems to be absent. The seemingly drug-induced, hallucinatory visuals on stage during her first performance distracted from the song almost completely, making the performance memorable for the wrong reasons.

Saweetie’s performance on SNL featured more dancing than singing. While she is not necessarily a bad artist on any account, she did not seem to put much effort into either of her two appearances that evening; both of her songs sounded nearly identical, and she mostly stood in one spot, barely even moving her upper body to the music. While she definitely was not the worst performer on the show, she was not the best this season.

Best Sketches:

The vaguely named “Hotel Ad” skit was strange, but it worked well with the cast that was chosen. The sketch is a fake commercial promoting Business Garden Inn and Suites and Hotel Room Inn, which provides to its guests “every comfort required by law.” Co-musical guests Eilish and O’Connell, alongside cast members Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant, pulled off the subtle and relatable skit that was “Hotel Ad” with ease. 

SNL has almost never gone wrong with sexual jokes in skits; “Parent-Teacher Conference” was an indicator of this. Sudeikis plays an elementary school teacher who flirts with his student’s mother right in front of her husband; it eventually gets more suggestive, and…let’s just say the husband cannot take any more of it and leaves the classroom. Seeing a lighthearted guy like Sudeikis in a role like this is comedic on its own, and the concept makes it even better.

The “Please Don’t Destroy” series recently started showing up across episodes of the 47th season; each new installment stars SNL writers Ben Marshall, John Higgins, and Martin Herlihy. One of the best in the series is “New Personalities,” where the guys take the phrase “new year, new me” to a new level, trying to make themselves more interesting by mimicking characters ranging from a southern waitress to Professor Snape from Harry Potter.

Worst Sketches:

“Kitchen Staff” was a skit that made almost no sense and had virtually no laughable moments. The synopsis: a few workers at a Texas restaurant get yelled at by their boss during a busy shift on New Year’s Eve. The running joke is the characters’ strong Texas accents and the boss saying “ler” repeatedly. Whoever thought this would be a good sketch was incorrect; the live audience may have laughed a few times, but it may as well have been because of cue cards rather than finding actual humor.

The Cut For Time “Architect Presentation” honestly should have been cut completely. A rock band that looks like it came straight from the 70s pitches an idea to board members about changing the city of San Francisco; this revamp would include massive guitars, a Godzilla statue with a hot dog, and roller coasters that supposedly transport people to Mars. They explain their concept through poorly-written parodies of “We Built This City” by Starship, and the entire sketch seems to just be a desperate attempt at getting a genuine laugh out of viewers.

John Mulaney will host the next installment of SNL, which will mark his fifth time hosting the show. He will be the newest addition to the “Five-Timers Club,” a still-growing group of celebrities that have hosted the show at least five times. Hopefully, the former SNL writer will provide audiences with yet another great episode, and will give a bout of good luck to the other upcoming hosts and musical guests.

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