The Best of SNL Season 44

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CREDIT: Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC

Saturday Night Live Season 44 is over, and somehow we survived! I’ve got my rundown below of what I thought was the best in various categories. As for the top sketches, my in-depth ranking can be found here. If you have your own rankings or other SNL-related thoughts and concerns, please let me know!

Most Valuable Cast Member
The longest-tenured cast member of all time felt perhaps the most essential he ever has, and a trio of ladies consistently delivered lived-in character work.
Kenan Thompson
Runners-Up:
Cecily Strong
Heidi Gardner
Kate McKinnon

Best Hosts
What took so long for the Sandman to return? And for Dame Emma to debut for that matter?
1. Adam Sandler
2. Liev Schreiber
3. John Mulaney
4. Kit Harington
5. Emma Thompson

Best Monologues
SNL has almost completely given up on the monologue, so thank the comedy gods that stand-ups still sometimes stop by.
1. John Mulaney
2. Paul Rudd
3. Seth Meyers
4. Jonah Hill

Best Musical Guests
Guitar skills go a long way.
1. Gary Clark Jr.
2. Tame Impala
3. Paul Simon
4. Maggie Rogers

Best Weekend Update Segments
Drug culture never went away at SNL, it just got weirder.
1. Terry Fink
2. Colin and Michael Swap Jokes
3. Elizabeth Warren

Best Episodes
Early May is often a sweet spot.
1. Adam Sandler/Shawn Mendes
2. Kit Harington/Sara Bareilles
3. Liev Schreiber/Lil Wayne
4. John Mulaney/Thomas Rhett

Best Quotes
Both courtesy of Heidi Gardner.
1. “Pikachu can get it.”
2. “I’m so horny I could cry.”

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Best Sketches of SNL Season 44

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CREDIT (Clockwise from Top Left): Rosalind O’Connor/NBC; Will Heath/NBC; Steve Molina Contreras/NBC; Rosalind O’Connor/NBC)

Was 2018-19 a great, or even good, SNL season? I’m inclined to say “not particularly,” but there’s almost always at least one moment per episode that really tickles my funny bone. Thus, it’s not hard to curate a list of the ten, or even twenty, best sketches of the season. So that’s what I’ve done below, with thoughts included on the top ten. (Note: sketches that were cut after dress rehearsal and then posted online were eligible, since they’re posted so frequently and quickly nowadays.)

20. Weezer Argument
19. Frank Sinatra Impersonator
18. A Frightening Tale
17. Colorectal Exam
16. Discover Card
15. Teacher Fell Down
14. Wedding Reception
13. What’s Wrong With This Picture?
12. The Unknown Caller
11. Retirement Party

10. Toilet Death Ejector

Passing away on the commode really speeds up the “Tragedy + Time = Comedy” equation.

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SNL Love It/Keep It/Leave It: Paul Rudd/DJ Khaled

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CREDIT: Steven Molina Contreras/NBC

Jeffrey Malone watches every new episode of Saturday Night Live and then organizes the sketches into the following categories: “Love It” (potentially Best of the Season-worthy), “Keep It” (perfectly adequate), or “Leave It” (in need of a rewrite, to say the least). Then he concludes with assessments of the host and musical guest.

Love It

Colin and Michael Switch Jokes – Michael and Colin’s semi-annual tradition of writing compromising jokes for each other is now the best part of their Weekend Update era. There’s a potential pitfall that just repeating the formula could lead to diminishing returns, but this edition proves that there’s still room to up the ante. As usual, Che has written the sneakiest punchline (MLK running his mouth), but Colin implying bestiality for Michael is also a fox-like triumph.

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SNL Love It/Keep It/Leave It: Emma Thompson/Jonas Brothers

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CREDIT: Will Heath/NBC

Jeffrey Malone watches every new episode of Saturday Night Live and then organizes the sketches into the following categories: “Love It” (potentially Best of the Season-worthy), “Keep It” (perfectly adequate), or “Leave It” (in need of a rewrite, to say the least). Then he concludes with assessments of the host and musical guest.

Love It

Meet the Press – Oh wow, a political cold open that’s not only funny, but quite possibly the best sketch of the episode! This is basically the inverse of the How’s He Doing? sketches from the Obama era, but here it’s even more extreme and patently nonsensical. Certain Republicans have knotted themselves into a Trump-supporting bind that is dangerous for everybody and just plain stunning in its blind loyalty. Honestly, Kate McKinnon’s version of Lindsey Graham saying, “Harder, Daddy” isn’t that far off from the real thing.

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SNL Love It/Keep It/Leave It: Adam Sandler/Shawn Mendes

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CREDIT: Will Heath/NBC

Jeffrey Malone watches every new episode of Saturday Night Live and then organizes the sketches into the following categories: “Love It” (potentially Best of the Season-worthy), “Keep It” (perfectly adequate), or “Leave It” (in need of a rewrite, to say the least). Then he concludes with assessments of the host and musical guest.

Love It

Holes – So Beck and Kyle discovered that clothes are just holes to cover up your bodily holes, and then they made a song about it, and now we get to bask in the joy of their wonder. It sounds like a cheesy ’80s power ballad, although the sartorial style is more reminiscent of Michael Bolton and other over-the-top soft rockers. And there’s even some “We Didn’t Start the Fire” influence there with the rhyming of Federico Fellini and Roberto Benigni. Wonderfully singular.

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SNL Love It/Keep It/Leave It: Emma Stone/BTS

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CREDIT: Rosalind O’Connor/NBC

Jeffrey Malone watches every new episode of Saturday Night Live and then organizes the sketches into the following categories: “Love It” (potentially Best of the Season-worthy), “Keep It” (perfectly adequate), or “Leave It” (in need of a rewrite, to say the least). Then he concludes with assessments of the host and musical guest.

Love It

The Actress – When you’re an actor, I imagine you take your rewarding parts wherever you can find them. So as mundane and ridiculous as this sketch is, it strikes me as ringing 100% true. Not in the sense that Emma Stone actually has experience playing a non-sexual role in a porn video, but in the sense that she, and so many others, have surely had bizarre moments of character discovery, or have at least been fighting for them. That feeling of vulnerability is powerful, and I’m glad we got to witness it.

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SNL Love It/Keep It/Leave It: Kit Harington/Sara Bareilles

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CREDIT: Will Heath/NBC

Jeffrey Malone watches every new episode of Saturday Night Live and then organizes the sketches into the following categories: “Love It” (potentially Best of the Season-worthy), “Keep It” (perfectly adequate), or “Leave It” (in need of a rewrite, to say the least). Then he concludes with assessments of the host and musical guest.

Love It

Terry Fink – One successful formula for a hilarious Update guest segment is a character who has a habit or personality quirk that justifies a bunch of wacky dialogue. And we have an excellent new example from Alex Moffat as film critic Terry Fink, who makes sure to be tripping on plenty of LSD whenever he sees a new flick (or just its poster in the subway or the middle of Times Square). Thanks to him, I now know about Dumbo‘s “touching jihadi message.”

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