Saturday Night Live
has been running for over 42 years at this point. That’s 43 Thanksgivings since the show debuted in 1975, and since they run more than one Thanksgiving-related piece in most Thanksgiving episodes, that’s easily over 50 sketches about the holiday. That’s a lot. NBC has cobbled together a 50-clip playlist on YouTube with some of the show’s most memorable Thanksgiving-themed sketches (and even a few that aren’t officially about that holiday), and we went through and gathered up the best of the best. In no particular order, here are Paste’s picks for SNL’s best Thanksgiving sketches.
“Bill Swerski’s Super Fans: Thanksgiving”
Here’s an early ‘90s classic that still holds up today. Chris Farley was one of the greats, Rob Smigel gets to make one of his periodic on-air appearances, and George Wendt is always the consummate pro.
“Vincent Price’s Thanksgiving Special”
This might not be the best written of Bill Hader’s Vincent Price holiday specials, but the concept is so strong (and Hader so talented) that you won’t even realize it. Some great work from one of SNL’s very best cast members and a variety of colleagues.
This riff on late ‘80s rap videos (a la Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff) and the Reebok Pump sneaker was just about the funniest thing in middle school back in the day.
Bill Murray, Jane Curtin, Laraine Newman and Paul Shaffer might look like adults, but they’re so bummed about Bea Arthur putting them at the kid’s table once again that they basically act just like children.
“Deep Thoughts: Thanksgiving Advice”
There’s no reason Jack Handey’s deadpan musings shouldn’t still be running on this show. Just set up a small annual stipend and let him contribute his 20 second non sequiturs for the rest of his life, Lorne.
If you read our weekly reviews you probably know that we’re not big fans of SNL’s political comedy lately. They captured the post-election mood perfectly with this pretape from last year, though. Trump’s been in office for 10 months now and this stunned zombie-esque reaction still hasn’t entirely subsided. As much as people stress about Trump’s unprecedented incompetence and venality becoming normalized, the fact that we’re all still shocked and stressed about him on a daily basis maybe shows that that hasn’t quite happened yet.
This sketch never actually aired on SNL. It was cut for time and later popped up on YouTube. That’s a shame—part of a series of absurd holiday-themed sketches, it’s the kind of off-kilter silliness that SNL still does well today.
This increasingly manic ad for a big box store that goes out of its way to guarantee a violent Black Friday is too goofy to work that well as a commentary on unfettered consumerism, but hey, it’s still funny, in large part because of Bobby Moynihan.
“Weekend Update: Bruce Springsteen on Thanksgiving”
sang a few Thanksgiving songs on Weekend Update during his tenure. His first one is his best remembered, but we’re giving this bit the nod because of his great Springsteen impersonation. Look, we just love the Boss around here, okay? And Sandler does him quite well.
The newest sketch on this list just debuted a few nights ago. It smartly criticizes the sociopolitical underpinnings of Batman while also just being really damn funny.
“Thanksgiving Greetings from Tarzan, Tonto and Frankenstein”
This was a holiday staple in the late ‘80s. These three notable non-English speaking characters basically hit every holiday with one of their monotone songs. Here they vary it up a bit and say what they’re thankful for.