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100 best SNL episodes

  • 100 best SNL episodes
    1/ NBCUniversal

    100 best SNL episodes

    “Saturday Night Live” is the benchmark of sketch TV. The show, which has been on the air for four decades, pairs a celebrity host with a rotating cast of comedians performing live and taped sketches, and also features a musical performance. In that time, it has become an inescapable part of the cultural conversation. “SNL” has brought humor to countless elections, has poked fun at pop culture trends, has been subject to major controversies, and has created some of the most indelible TV moments of all time.

    Viewers have the show to thank for classic movies like “The Blues Brothers,” “Coneheads,” and “Wayne’s World,” all of which were based on “SNL” sketches. Some of the most well-known comedians of the past 40 years (Tina Fey, Eddie Murphy, Will Ferrell, Jimmy Fallon, and Dan Aykroyd, to name a few) jump-started their careers as writers and actors on “SNL.” It’s also been known to make or break political careers. Never one to shy away from poking fun at politicians on both sides of the aisle, “SNL” boasts a long history of impressions that has shaped how Americans perceive candidates and elected officials. Gerald Ford’s allies even concede that Chevy Chase’s famous impersonation of the president may have influenced his narrow loss in the 1976 election.

    With all this history, narrowing down 44 seasons into a list of the best “Saturday Night Live” episodes is a nearly impossible task, and in truth, it comes down to a matter of taste. Stacker has compiled the top 100 episodes as rated by IMDb users. Only episodes with 50 or more votes were counted, and in the case of ties, the episode with the most votes was ranked higher. The end result is an eclectic collection of episodes from every era of the show's history, and a reminder of why “SNL” remains an essential viewing after all this time.

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  • #100. Drew Barrymore/Lily Allen
    2/ NBC

    #100. Drew Barrymore/Lily Allen

    Season 32, Episode 12
    IMDb rating: 7.5
    IMDb votes: 84
    Airdate: February 3, 2007

    Drew Barrymore's fifth stint hosting “SNL” was bolstered by a memorable castthis was the era of Amy Poehler, Andy Samberg, Maya Rudolph, and Kristen Wiig. The sheer amount of talent on screen was reflected in a sketch about the hyper-maturity of Dakota Fanning, and Barrymore's fake ad for Firestarter Brand Smoked Sausages.

  • #99. Jon Hamm/Michael Bublé
    3/ NBC

    #99. Jon Hamm/Michael Bublé

    Season 35, Episode 13
    IMDb rating: 7.5
    IMDb votes: 125
    Airdate: January 30, 2010

    At the height of “Mad Men's” popularity, Jon Hamm returned for a second round of hosting and skewered his already iconic character, Don Draper. However, this episode may land on the list primarily because of Fred Armisen's portrayal of a fed-up President Barack Obama who just couldn't work up the energy to care about health care anymore.

  • #98. Joseph Gordon-Levitt/Dave Matthews Band
    4/ NBC

    #98. Joseph Gordon-Levitt/Dave Matthews Band

    Season 35, Episode 7
    IMDb rating: 7.5
    IMDb votes: 136
    Airdate: November 21, 2009

    Joseph Gordon-Levitt proved himself to be an excellent host with sketches that lampooned classics like the 1989 film “Say Anything,” but this strong episode is best remembered for the absurd "What Up With That," a recurring sketch starring Kenan Thompson. In this episode’s sketch, Al Gore guest stars on the supremely weird chat show where he ultimately never gets the chance to promote his book.

  • #97. John Mulaney/Jack White
    5/ NBC

    #97. John Mulaney/Jack White

    Season 43, Episode 18
    IMDb rating: 7.5
    IMDb votes: 146
    Airdate: April 14, 2018

    The newest episode to make this list owes much of its acclaim to host John Mulaney's unique sense of humor. The stand-up comic brought a sense of specificity to his sketches, as expertly demonstrated in a sketch about a high school activist struggling with a personal problem.

  • #96. Amy Poehler/Katy Perry
    6/ NBC

    #96. Amy Poehler/Katy Perry

    Season 36, Episode 1
    IMDb rating: 7.5
    IMDb votes: 156
    Airdate: September 25, 2010

    The one and only Amy Poehler hosted the show for the first time, and she even joined Seth Meyers for a memorable “Weekend Update.” As viewers would expect from Poehler, she delivered a hilarious opening monologue with the help of her friends Tina Fey, Justin Timberlake, Rachel Dratch, and Jimmy Fallon.

  • #95. Sofía Vergara/One Direction
    7/ NBC

    #95. Sofía Vergara/One Direction

    Season 37, Episode 18
    IMDb rating: 7.5
    IMDb votes: 160
    Airdate: April 7, 2012

    Airing at the height of One Direction's popularity and during an election year, this episode had something for a wide variety of viewers. In between skits about Mitt Romney and a show-stopping boy band set, Sofia Vergara served up a memorable, but random, Fran Drescher impression.

  • #94. Emma Stone/Coldplay
    8/ NBC

    #94. Emma Stone/Coldplay

    Season 37, Episode 6
    IMDb rating: 7.5
    IMDb votes: 161
    Airdate: November 12, 2011

    “SNL” is arguably at its best when it's skewering politics, as this episode’s take on the Republican presidential debate brilliantly demonstrated. Additionally, Emma Stone more than held her own in an episode where she took on everything from a Spider-Man kiss to a nightmare guest at a bridal shower.

  • #93. Andrew Garfield/Coldplay
    9/ NBC

    #93. Andrew Garfield/Coldplay

    Season 39, Episode 19
    IMDb rating: 7.5
    IMDb votes: 171
    Airdate: May 3, 2014

    Coldplay's fifth appearance coincided with Andrew Garfield's first time hosting, and included a cameo from Garfield’s “Spider-Man” co-star and girlfriend Emma Stone. Garfield happily poked fun at his web-slinging character's history with life-saving kisses.

  • #92. Bruno Mars
    10/ NBC

    #92. Bruno Mars

    Season 38, Episode 5
    IMDb rating: 7.5
    IMDb votes: 185
    Airdate: October 20, 2012

    While Bruno Mars was upfront about not being a comedian, he more than delivered during the night's several musical sketches. It's Tom Hanks that really stole the show as an undecided voter during the episode's cold open debate between Barack Obama, played by Jay Pharoah, and Mitt Romney, played by Jason Sudeikis.

  • #91. Louis C.K./Fun.
    11/ NBC

    #91. Louis C.K./Fun.

    Season 38, Episode 6
    IMDb rating: 7.5
    IMDb votes: 201
    Airdate: November 3, 2012

    The last show before the 2012 election featured skits focused on New York City in the aftermath Hurricane Sandy. Louis C.K. hosted the episode and delivered a sketch  in which he portrayed Abraham Lincoln, which was intrinsically funny if for no other reason than C.K. and Lincoln's noticeably different physiques. 

  • #90. Adam Driver/Chris Stapleton
    12/ NBC

    #90. Adam Driver/Chris Stapleton

    Season 41, Episode 10
    IMDb rating: 7.5
    IMDb votes: 241
    Airdate: January 16, 2016

    Thanks to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” 2016 was the year of Adam Driver. It's fitting that his big-screen success led to hosting “SNL,” where the sometimes intense actor was able to let loose and embrace his silly side in sketches like "Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base."

  • #89. Eric Idle/Neil Innes
    13/ NBC

    #89. Eric Idle/Neil Innes

    Season 2, Episode 21
    IMDb rating: 7.6
    IMDb votes: 54
    Airdate: April 23, 1977

    In the Bill Murray era, “Monty Python” alum Eric Idle took on hosting duties for an episode that was as absurd as it was political, including a scene with potato torture and a sketch involving buying weed locally. The episode was capped with a performance of "Cheese & Onions" from Neil Innes.

  • #88. Alec Baldwin/Paul McCartney
    14/ NBC

    #88. Alec Baldwin/Paul McCartney

    Season 18, Episode 13
    IMDb rating: 7.6
    IMDb votes: 54
    Airdate: February 13, 1993

    Before he set a record by hosting “SNL” 17 times, Alec Baldwin appeared alongside Paul McCartney in 1993. While both men were game for anything, McCartney's tongue-in-cheek interview segment with Chris Farley was by far the evening's standout sketch.

  • #87. Norman Lear/Boz Scaggs
    15/ NBC

    #87. Norman Lear/Boz Scaggs

    Season 2, Episode 2
    IMDb rating: 7.6
    IMDb votes: 61
    Airdate: September 25, 1976

    What a year for “Weekend Update!” The long-running segment featured mentions of the Ford-Carter debate and the sentencing of Patty Hearst, in an episode that also included an injured Chevy Chase being serenaded by the female cast members.

  • #86. Jerry Seinfeld/David Bowie
    16/ NBC

    #86. Jerry Seinfeld/David Bowie

    Season 25, Episode 1
    IMDb rating: 7.6
    IMDb votes: 65
    Airdate: October 2, 1999

    Season 25 got off to an excellent start thanks to a remarkable double-billing: Jerry Seinfeld and David Bowie. The evening truly belonged to Seinfeld though, especially after he poked fun at the controversial finale of his famed sitcom.

  • #85. Buck Henry/The Band
    17/ NBC

    #85. Buck Henry/The Band

    Season 2, Episode 6
    IMDb rating: 7.6
    IMDb votes: 67
    Airdate: October 30, 1976

    This Halloween episode includes one of the show's most memorable sketches, an absurd send-up of the movie “The Omen.” However, it's also notable for its sharp political segments surrounding Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford's presidential race.

  • #84. Steve Martin/Kinky Friedman
    18/ NBC

    #84. Steve Martin/Kinky Friedman

    Season 2, Episode 5
    IMDb rating: 7.6
    IMDb votes: 68
    Airdate: October 23, 1976

    Steve Martin worked alongside the likes of Chevy Chase and Jane Curtin in this episode which included Chase failing to endorse milk and the Yankees attempting to get over losing the World Series.

  • #83. Steve Martin/Prince
    19/ NBC

    #83. Steve Martin/Prince

    Season 31, Episode 12
    IMDb rating: 7.6
    IMDb votes: 69
    Airdate: February 4, 2006

    Steve Martin took on hosting duties for the 14th time in the same episode that Maya Rudolph made her long-awaited return from maternity leave. Sketches included a look at the Superbowl XL rehearsals and a digital short about close talkers.

  • #82. Eric Idle/Joe Cocker/Stuff
    20/ NBC

    #82. Eric Idle/Joe Cocker/Stuff

    Season 2, Episode 3
    IMDb rating: 7.6
    IMDb votes: 71
    Airdate: October 2, 1976

    The season two cast included Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, and Gilda Radner. Adding Eric Idle to the mix just feels like an embarrassment of riches. In one of many memorable moments, Aykroyd and Idle dress up in drag and begin "drag racing"—running around the studio while wearing dresses.

  • #81. Alec Baldwin/Christina Aguilera
    21/ NBC

    #81. Alec Baldwin/Christina Aguilera

    Season 32, Episode 5
    IMDb rating: 7.6
    IMDb votes: 93
    Airdate: November 11, 2006

    In 2006, “SNL” had assembled one of its strongest casts ever, thanks to a lineup that included Andy Samberg, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Seth Meyers, and Bill Hader. This particular episode included Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan guest-starring in Baldwin's monologue.

  • #80. Desi Arnaz/Desi Arnaz, Jr.
    22/ NBC

    #80. Desi Arnaz/Desi Arnaz, Jr.

    Season 1, Episode 14
    IMDb rating: 7.6
    IMDb votes: 96
    Airdate: February 21, 1976

    Even in the '70s, Desi Arnaz remained TV royalty, and he was treated as such during his hosting gig. The episode leans heavily on the Arnaz's musical talents with a performance of "Babalu" and offers up the requisite “I Love Lucy” parody.

  • #79. Jon Hamm/Coldplay
    23/ NBC

    #79. Jon Hamm/Coldplay

    Season 34, Episode 6
    IMDb rating: 7.6
    IMDb votes: 107
    Airdate: October 25, 2008

    Famously, Amy Poehler had to miss this episode because she went into labor on Saturday night. She still managed to make an appearance thanks to a pre-taped segment featuring host Jon Hamm.

  • #78. Josh Brolin/Adele
    24/ NBC

    #78. Josh Brolin/Adele

    Season 34, Episode 5
    IMDb rating: 7.6
    IMDb votes: 117
    Airdate: October 18, 2008

    It's not easy to overshadow Adele, but the real-life Sarah Palin came close during her guest appearance. After several episodes of parodying the politician, the show invited her onto the show to defend her honor, and regardless of your take on her as a person, you have to respect the fearless performance she put forth.

  • #77. Paul Rudd/Beyoncé
    25/ NBC

    #77. Paul Rudd/Beyoncé

    Season 34, Episode 8
    IMDb rating: 7.6
    IMDb votes: 128
    Airdate: November 15, 2008

    This episode saw the debut of new cast members Abby Elliott and Michaela Watkins. However, having Beyoncé as a musical guest and the comedic Paul Rudd as a guest truly helped make this episode sing.

  • #76. Ben Affleck/Kanye West
    26/ NBC

    #76. Ben Affleck/Kanye West

    Season 38, Episode 21
    IMDb rating: 7.6
    IMDb votes: 137
    Airdate: May 18, 2013

    This finale episode saw the departure of two SNL greats: Bill Hader and Fred Armisen. Their final official episode as cast members was bittersweet, as it offered Hader's classic character Stefon the opportunity to have one more well-deserved moment in the spotlight.

  • #75. Anne Hathaway/The Killers
    27/ NBC

    #75. Anne Hathaway/The Killers

    Season 34, Episode 4
    IMDb rating: 7.6
    IMDb votes: 138
    Airdate: October 4, 2008

    Though Anne Hathaway gave a masterful performance as with most things she's ever been a part of, the Killers absolutely stole the show with this one. They gave masterful performances of both "Human" and "Spaceman" off of their third album "Day & Age."

  • #74. Zooey Deschanel/Karmin
    28/ NBC

    #74. Zooey Deschanel/Karmin

    Season 37, Episode 14
    IMDb rating: 7.6
    IMDb votes: 167
    Airdate: February 11, 2012

    Despite having sketches which discussed both the Superbowl and the presidential election, the real standout sketches from this episode all involved Bill Hader playing Clint Eastwood. The three fake ads were pitch-perfect and made for classic “SNL” sketches.

  • #73. Melissa McCarthy/Lady Antebellum
    29/ NBC

    #73. Melissa McCarthy/Lady Antebellum

    Season 37, Episode 2
    IMDb rating: 7.6
    IMDb votes: 174
    Airdate: October 1, 2011

    Before she became known for playing Sean Spicer, Melissa McCarthy made her “SNL” debut hot on the heels of her breakout role in “Bridesmaids.” Her first outing is best remembered for the hilarious Hidden Valley Ranch lady skit.

  • #72. Anna Kendrick/Pharrell Williams
    30/ NBC

    #72. Anna Kendrick/Pharrell Williams

    Season 39, Episode 17
    IMDb rating: 7.6
    IMDb votes: 179
    Airdate: April 5, 2014

    In an episode overflowing with musical numbers, the fizzy joy of modern-day “SNL” was on full display, and yet it's Kate McKinnon's performance as the powerful German Chancellor Angela Merkel that stole the show.

  • #71. Anne Hathaway/Rihanna
    31/ NBC

    #71. Anne Hathaway/Rihanna

    Season 38, Episode 7
    IMDb rating: 7.6
    IMDb votes: 180
    Airdate: November 10, 2012

    As the 2012 election cycle came to an end, Jason Sudeikis stepped into Mitt Romney's shoes one last time as the politician drowned his sorrows in a wholesome glass of milk. Meanwhile, Anne Hathaway appeared in a buzzy “Homeland” sketch that poked fun at Claire Danes' cry face.

  • #70. Josh Hutcherson/HAIM
    32/ NBC

    #70. Josh Hutcherson/HAIM

    Season 39, Episode 7
    IMDb rating: 7.6
    IMDb votes: 196
    Airdate: November 23, 2013

    Josh Hutcherson's episode came early in a season that introduced several new cast members including Kyle Mooney, Beck Bennett, and Mike O’Brien. The episode allowed all of them to showcase their talents, especially Bennett, who earned much praise from his excellent "Baby Boss" sketch.

  • #69. Martin Freeman/Charli XCX
    33/ NBC

    #69. Martin Freeman/Charli XCX

    Season 40, Episode 9
    IMDb rating: 7.6
    IMDb votes: 204
    Airdate: December 13, 2014

    From Taran Killam's take on Charlie Rose to Martin Freeman and Leslie Jones' doomed couple sketch, this holiday episode stands out as an absolute classic. Other memorable sketches include Freeman’s “Hobbit” / ”Office” mashup and Killam version of “a comically robotic Alan Rickman.” 

  • #68. Tracy Morgan/Demi Lovato
    34/ NBC

    #68. Tracy Morgan/Demi Lovato

    Season 41, Episode 3
    IMDb rating: 7.6
    IMDb votes: 212
    Airdate: October 17, 2015

    This episode marked Tracy Morgan's first appearance on “SNL” since his tragic car accident in 2014. He came on and delivered the classic jokes his fans have come to expect, while also reminding viewers that “SNL” is capable of poignancy, too.

  • #67. Tina Fey/Arcade Fire
    35/ NBC

    #67. Tina Fey/Arcade Fire

    Season 39, Episode 1
    IMDb rating: 7.6
    IMDb votes: 219
    Airdate: September 28, 2013

    With health care on everyone's minds, it was no surprise that the topic fueled much of the political material touched upon in the Season 39 premiere. The material was given an extra boost thanks to several guest appearances by “Breaking Bad” star Aaron Paul.

  • #66. George Carlin/Billy Preston/Janis Ian
    36/ NBC

    #66. George Carlin/Billy Preston/Janis Ian

    Season 1, Episode 1
    IMDb rating: 7.6
    IMDb votes: 284
    Airdate: October 11, 1975

    The first ever episode of “SNL” had to have nothing short of a legend as the host. George Carlin performed monologues throughout the inaugural outing as original cast member, as Chevy Chase, Garrett Morris, Dan Aykroyd, and Gilda Radner ushered in one of TV's most influential shows.

  • #65. Margot Robbie/The Weeknd
    37/ NBC

    #65. Margot Robbie/The Weeknd

    Season 42, Episode 1
    IMDb rating: 7.6
    IMDb votes: 347
    Airdate: October 1, 2016

    Season 42 kicked things off with two new head writers—Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider—and a hysterical faux presidential debate between Alec Baldwin's Donald Trump and Kate McKinnon's Hillary Clinton. It's kind of amazing to think that the skit was so good that it overshadowed a superstar duo in "The Wolf of Wall Street" star Margot Robbie and R&B sensation The Weeknd. 

  • #64. Robert Klein/Bonnie Raitt
    38/ NBC

    #64. Robert Klein/Bonnie Raitt

    Season 3, Episode 10
    IMDb rating: 7.7
    IMDb votes: 58
    Airdate: January 28, 1978

    Monster lobsters, anyone? By 1978, “SNL” had perfected the art of balancing absurd sketches with sharp takes on the news. Having Bill Murray on hand as the “X-Police” added an extra layer of excitement to this outing.

  • #63. Steve Martin/Randy Newman, Dirt Band
    39/ NBC

    #63. Steve Martin/Randy Newman, Dirt Band

    Season 3, Episode 9
    IMDb rating: 7.7
    IMDb votes: 58
    Airdate: January 21, 1978

    Any episode that featured both an appearance from the Coneheads and an expert parody of President Carter's State of the Union address was sure to be a winner. Steve Martin’s monologue was all over the place, and included electrocuting himself, accusing John Belushi of stealing $59 from him and offering financial tips to the audience.

  • #62. Steve Martin/Blondie
    40/ NBC

    #62. Steve Martin/Blondie

    Season 5, Episode 1
    IMDb rating: 7.7
    IMDb votes: 59
    Airdate: October 13, 1979

    At the “Weekend Update” desk, Jane Curtin and Bill Murray took on the headlines of the day, including the announcement of the 1980 Republican nominees and a visit to America from Fidel Castro. Steve Martin and Murray also play two tourists who wander onto the set of a TV show, shocked and confused by the studio audience.

  • #61. Eric Idle/Kate Bush
    41/ NBC

    #61. Eric Idle/Kate Bush

    Season 4, Episode 8
    IMDb rating: 7.7
    IMDb votes: 66
    Airdate: December 9, 1978

    Influential singer Kate Bush made her stateside television debut on “SNL” in 1978. Her live performances of "The Man With the Child in His Eyes” and "Them Heavy People" marked her arrival in the American music market.

  • #60. Paul Simon/George Harrison
    42/ NBC

    #60. Paul Simon/George Harrison

    Season 2, Episode 8
    IMDb rating: 7.7
    IMDb votes: 82
    Airdate: November 20, 1976

    The great George Harrison was the evening's musical guest, but he also proved to be a scene-stealer. Early in the show, he tried to convince Lorne Michaels to give him $3,000 for a previous appearance by The Beatles.

  • #59. Buck Henry/Bill Withers, Toni Basil
    43/ NBC

    #59. Buck Henry/Bill Withers, Toni Basil

    Season 1, Episode 10
    IMDb rating: 7.7
    IMDb votes: 89
    Airdate: January 17, 1976

    In the first Halloween episode, Buck Henry suffered an injury during a scene with John Belushi that forced him to wear a bandage on his head for the rest of the episode. His injury inspired the entire cast to don bandages as the episode progressed in a bit of brilliant improvisational humor.

  • #58. Amy Adams/Vampire Weekend
    44/ NBC

    #58. Amy Adams/Vampire Weekend

    Season 33, Episode 7
    IMDb rating: 7.7
    IMDb votes: 95
    Airdate: March 8, 2008

    Andy Samberg's digital shorts were still fresh in 2008, as he proved with a music video that found him channeling his inner Batman. Meanwhile, Amy Poehler continued to hone her Hillary Clinton skills as she introduced an attack campaign ad against Barack Obama.

  • #57. Will Ferrell/Usher
    45/ NBC

    #57. Will Ferrell/Usher

    Season 37, Episode 21
    IMDb rating: 7.7
    IMDb votes: 117
    Airdate: May 12, 2012

    In the Season 37 finale, Will Ferrell brought back his timeless take on George W. Bush during a cold open scene that found him attempting to cheer up Joe Biden. This was the last episode for several of the core cast members at the time.

  • #56. Zach Galifianakis/Of Monsters and Men
    46/ NBC

    #56. Zach Galifianakis/Of Monsters and Men

    Season 38, Episode 19
    IMDb rating: 7.7
    IMDb votes: 136
    Airdate: May 4, 2013

    “Game of Thrones” hasn't wavered in popularity since it premiered, and for proof, look back to 2013 when a surprise guest appearance from Nikolaj Coster-Waldau made this “SNL” episode one to remember. An AV Club writer called this episode the best of a “weak season,” attributing much of the standout nature to the episode’s skilled host, Zach Galifianakis.

  • #55. Jason Segel/Florence and the Machine
    47/ NBC

    #55. Jason Segel/Florence and the Machine

    Season 37, Episode 7
    IMDb rating: 7.7
    IMDb votes: 160
    Airdate: November 19, 2011

    Jason Segel and the Muppets proved to be a delightful combination in this endearing episode from 2011. Kermit’s Ray Romano impression was a particularly outstanding sketch for one reviewer in an episode of funny, but underwhelming skits.

  • #54. Kerry Washington/Eminem
    48/ NBC

    #54. Kerry Washington/Eminem

    Season 39, Episode 5
    IMDb rating: 7.7
    IMDb votes: 194
    Airdate: November 2, 2013

    In 2013, the show was facing criticism for a lack of diversity in the cast—namely that it had no black female cast member. In the opening monologue, the show answered the criticism by having host Kerry Washington play numerous famous black women who worked in media.

  • #53. Lady Gaga
    49/ NBC

    #53. Lady Gaga

    Season 39, Episode 6
    IMDb rating: 7.7
    IMDb votes: 209
    Airdate: November 16, 2013

    Serving dually as the host and musical guest, Lady Gaga showed the world her sense of humor. In various sketches, she played an older version of herself, and slyly nodded to her unique fashion sense.

  • #52. Sigourney Weaver/Buster Poindexter
    50/ NBC

    #52. Sigourney Weaver/Buster Poindexter

    Season 12, Episode 1
    IMDb rating: 7.8
    IMDb votes: 55
    Airdate: October 11, 1986

    The premiere of Season 12 followed a disastrous, nearly show-ending Season 11, driving “SNL” into “a new golden age.” This season’s cast included first-timers that would eventually become long-standing members, including Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks, and Kevin Nealon.

  • #51. Roseanne & Tom Arnold/Red Hot Chili Peppers
    51/ NBC

    #51. Roseanne & Tom Arnold/Red Hot Chili Peppers

    Season 17, Episode 14
    IMDb rating: 7.8
    IMDb votes: 59
    Airdate: February 22, 1992

    During the "Coffee Talk" sketch, Roseanne Barr, Madonna, and Mike Myers are all raving about Barbra Streisand. What none of them know is that Streisand is actually in the studio, and their genuine shock when she appears remains a terrific moment.

  • #50. Patrick Swayze/Mariah Carey
    52/ NBC

    #50. Patrick Swayze/Mariah Carey

    Season 16, Episode 4
    IMDb rating: 7.8
    IMDb votes: 65
    Airdate: October 27, 1990

    Rob Schneider made his “SNL” debut while Patrick Swayze starred in a skit about a second “Ghost” movie. This was also Mariah Carey’s first time appearing on the show, and it came shortly after releasing her self-titled studio albumthe beginning of her superstardom.

  • #49. Shia LaBeouf/My Morning Jacket
    53/ NBC

    #49. Shia LaBeouf/My Morning Jacket

    Season 33, Episode 11
    IMDb rating: 7.8
    IMDb votes: 88
    Airdate: May 10, 2008

    With the Democratic primaries on the horizon, Amy Poehler's Hillary Clinton promises she will be a sore loser if she doesn't win the nomination in a sketch that allowed Poehler the chance to fully transform herself into the powerful politician. Later in the episode, Poehler also plays a mother trying to make her masculine daughter, played by Shia LaBeouf, more stylish.

  • #48. Steve Carell/Usher
    54/ NBC

    #48. Steve Carell/Usher

    Season 33, Episode 12
    IMDb rating: 7.8
    IMDb votes: 98
    Airdate: May 17, 2008

    Any episode featuring Steve Carell as the host is bound to a standout, but this episode got an extra boost from Senator John McCain. At the time, he was on the presidential campaign trail, though he made time to stop by “SNL” to make fun of himself in not one, but two sketches.

  • #47. Jake Gyllenhaal/The Shins
    55/ NBC

    #47. Jake Gyllenhaal/The Shins

    Season 32, Episode 10
    IMDb rating: 7.8
    IMDb votes: 107
    Airdate: January 13, 2007

    Long before Donald Trump was president, “SNL” was already finding humor in the man, as illustrated in this episode where an entire skit is built around his need to hold a press conference to bash Rosie O'Donnell. Jake Gyllenhaal dresses in drag and does a rendition of a “Dreamgirls” song for his “Brokeback Mountain” fans.

  • #46. Fred Armisen/Courtney Barnett
    56/ NBC

    #46. Fred Armisen/Courtney Barnett

    Season 41, Episode 21
    IMDb rating: 7.8
    IMDb votes: 179
    Airdate: May 21, 2016

    Former cast member Fred Armisen returned to host the 21st season finale. He was joined by another alum, Andy Samberg, who produced a brand new digital short for the outing. The “Farewell Mr. Bunting” sketch, which is described as having a “Pythonesque” quality, gave one reviewer the “biggest, most thoroughly earned laugh” the show had prompted in years.

  • #45. Tina Fey & Amy Poehler/Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
    57/ NBC

    #45. Tina Fey & Amy Poehler/Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

    Season 41, Episode 9
    IMDb rating: 7.8
    IMDb votes: 267
    Airdate: December 19, 2015

    In this holiday special, SNL queens Tina Fey and Amy Poehler took on hosting duties and gave a masterclass in how guest hosts can elevate an episode. A Paste Magazine reviewer called the “Meet Your Second Wife” sketch, which was a satirical game show with Fey and Poehler as hosts, the best of the season.

  • #44. Jim Carrey/Iggy Azalea
    58/ NBC

    #44. Jim Carrey/Iggy Azalea

    Season 40, Episode 4
    IMDb rating: 7.8
    IMDb votes: 294
    Airdate: October 25, 2014

    Jim Carrey went for broke in a Halloween outing during which he parodied Matthew McConaughey's intense car commercials and dressed up as Sia in a nude leotard for a costume contest. A particularly strange, but delightful scene was Carrey and Kate McKinnon in a “Chandelier”-inspired dance-off.

  • #43. John Travolta/Seal
    59/ NBC

    #43. John Travolta/Seal

    Season 20, Episode 3
    IMDb rating: 7.9
    IMDb votes: 50
    Airdate: October 15, 1994

    In 1994, “SNL” had a cast full of future big names, including Adam Sandler, Mike Myers, and Janeane Garofalo. John Travolta joined them as his big-screen hit “Pulp Fiction” was rapidly becoming a cult classic.

  • #42. Ray Charles
    60/ NBC

    #42. Ray Charles

    Season 3, Episode 5
    IMDb rating: 7.9
    IMDb votes: 55
    Airdate: November 12, 1977

    Ray Charles was one of the first musicians to pull double-duty as the host and musical guest, and he set the bar high. Not only were his musical segments among the show's very best, he also played up his comedic talents in sketches such as "The Young Caucasians."

  • #41. Linda Hamilton/Mariah Carey
    61/ NBC

    #41. Linda Hamilton/Mariah Carey

    Season 17, Episode 6
    IMDb rating: 7.9
    IMDb votes: 56
    Airdate: November 16, 1991

    There was never any doubt that Linda Hamilton would do a “Terminator” sketch while hosting “SNL,” but doing one about Toonces the puppet cat as the “Tooncinator” was not likely what people were expecting. Mariah Carey makes another appearance as the musical guest, performing two songs from her album released earlier in the year.

  • #40. Molly Shannon/Linkin Park
    62/ NBC

    #40. Molly Shannon/Linkin Park

    Season 32, Episode 19
    IMDb rating: 7.9
    IMDb votes: 61
    Airdate: May 12, 2007

    Molly Shannon is another “SNL” alum who returned to serve as host, and in her monologue, she has a flashback to the ‘90s when she was crushing on Lorne Michaels. Her turn to guest occurred right at the kickoff of the presidential race season, leading to the episode including a debate sketch featuring lesser known presidential hopefuls. Shannon also plays a wannabe stripper at “The Soprano’s” Bada-Bing strip club.

  • #39. Steve Martin/The Kinks
    63/ NBC

    #39. Steve Martin/The Kinks

    Season 2, Episode 15
    IMDb rating: 7.9
    IMDb votes: 70
    Airdate: February 26, 1977

    Repeat host Steve Martin continued to deliver the goods in this 1977 episode that continued to pave the way for an eventual “Coneheads” movie. The episode also had Gilda Radner as Jackie Onassis in a weightlifting match with a Russian champion.

  • #38. Carrie Fisher/The Blues Brothers
    64/ NBC

    #38. Carrie Fisher/The Blues Brothers

    Season 4, Episode 6
    IMDb rating: 7.9
    IMDb votes: 85
    Airdate: November 18, 1978

    As “Star Wars” was slowly taking over pop culture, a young Carrie Fisher showed flashes of the comic brilliance that would later define her career as she delivered the opening monologue in full Princess Leia gear, because who would recognize her otherwise, she mused.

  • #37. Tina Fey/Carrie Underwood
    65/ NBC

    #37. Tina Fey/Carrie Underwood

    Season 33, Episode 5
    IMDb rating: 7.9
    IMDb votes: 115
    Airdate: February 23, 2008

    Tina Fey returned to “SNL” and joined Amy Poehler at the “Weekend Update” desk for one of the most iconic moments from the show in recent memory. While discussing Hillary Clinton, Fey busted the famous line, "B*****s get stuff done."

  • #36. Will Ferrell/Green Day
    66/ NBC

    #36. Will Ferrell/Green Day

    Season 34, Episode 22
    IMDb rating: 7.9
    IMDb votes: 132
    Airdate: May 16, 2009

    Will Ferrell returned for a second time hosting after his tenure as a cast member had ended. His appearance was somewhat bittersweet as it coincided with the final episode for Darrell Hammond, Michaela Watkins, and Casey Wilson.

  • #35. Zach Galifianakis/Vampire Weekend
    67/ NBC

    #35. Zach Galifianakis/Vampire Weekend

    Season 35, Episode 16
    IMDb rating: 7.9
    IMDb votes: 144
    Airdate: March 6, 2010

    Zach Galifianakis made his hosting debut in an episode where he also starred in the digital short "Zach Drops By the Set." Media reviewers weren’t over the moon about this episode, but seem to agree that Galifianakis killed it in his monologue.

  • #34. Mick Jagger
    68/ NBC

    #34. Mick Jagger

    Season 37, Episode 22
    IMDb rating: 7.9
    IMDb votes: 156
    Airdate: May 19, 2012

    Kristen Wiig, who was one of the MVPs of the modern “SNL” era, signed off in the episode that was hosted by musical guest Mick Jagger. Even classic cast member Steve Martin made a special appearance in honor of her last appearance as a member of the show's cast.

  • #33. Martin Short/Paul McCartney
    69/ NBC

    #33. Martin Short/Paul McCartney

    Season 38, Episode 10
    IMDb rating: 7.9
    IMDb votes: 170
    Airdate: December 15, 2012

    This episode aired shortly after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, during a time when America didn't feel like laughing. Rather than lean too heavily into politics, “SNL” went for a feel-good atmosphere instead with the warm comedy of host Martin Short.

  • #32. Ryan Gosling/Leon Bridges
    70/ NBC

    #32. Ryan Gosling/Leon Bridges

    Season 41, Episode 7
    IMDb rating: 7.9
    IMDb votes: 252
    Airdate: December 5, 2015

    Ryan Gosling makes his hosting debut with a number of notable sketches, including an alien abduction scene starring Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, and Bobby Moynihanwho all struggle to conceal their own laughter. However, a particularly memorable performance by Gosling in this episode is his role as a Santa-obsessed holiday party-goer.

  • #31. Seth MacFarlane/Frank Ocean
    71/ NBC

    #31. Seth MacFarlane/Frank Ocean

    Season 38, Episode 1
    IMDb rating: 7.9
    IMDb votes: 270
    Airdate: September 15, 2012

    Jay Pharoah officially took over the role of President Obama from Fred Armisen in this premiere episodenews of which was leaked to the press by Lorne Michaels the week before. Seth MacFarlane “effortlessly” transformed into swimmer Ryan Lochte as a guest on “Weekend Update.”

  • #30. Tom Hanks/Lady Gaga
    72/ NBC

    #30. Tom Hanks/Lady Gaga

    Season 42, Episode 4
    IMDb rating: 7.9
    IMDb votes: 366
    Airdate: October 22, 2016

    What could have been a standard Halloween episode became legendary thanks to one perfect sketch. In his ninth turn hosting, Tom Hanks starred as David Simon Pumpkins, sparking an internet obsession that has yet to fade away.

  • #29. Kristen Stewart/Alessia Cara
    73/ NBC

    #29. Kristen Stewart/Alessia Cara

    Season 42, Episode 13
    IMDb rating: 7.9
    IMDb votes: 373
    Airdate: February 4, 2017

    Melissa McCarthy's Sean Spicer arrives on the scene in all of his glory, becoming a recurring political sketch. The same episode also included a surprising turn with Alec Baldwin taking on the role of President Donald Trump in the Oval Office.

  • #28. Dave Chappelle/A Tribe Called Quest
    74/ NBC

    #28. Dave Chappelle/A Tribe Called Quest

    Season 42, Episode 6
    IMDb rating: 7.9
    IMDb votes: 451
    Airdate: November 12, 2016

    In what was clearly a long overdue arrival, Dave Chappelle made his “SNL” debut in 2016. In the same episode, the famed rap group A Tribe Called Quest debuted their new song "We the People."

  • #27. Candice Bergen/Frank Zappa
    75/ NBC

    #27. Candice Bergen/Frank Zappa

    Season 2, Episode 10
    IMDb rating: 8
    IMDb votes: 68
    Airdate: December 11, 1976

    The pairing of Candice Bergen and John Belushi always led to good things in the show's early history, and this episode was no different. From their “Casablanca” skit to the wonderful silliness of "Adopt Belushi For Christmas," the comedic pairing nailed every sketch they put on together.

  • #26. Elliott Gould/Leon Redbone, Harlan Collins & Joyce Everson
    76/ NBC

    #26. Elliott Gould/Leon Redbone, Harlan Collins & Joyce Everson

    Season 1, Episode 22
    IMDb rating: 8
    IMDb votes: 68
    Airdate: May 29, 1976

    In a 12-minute sketch that remains the gold standard of "SNL" comedy, the show lovingly skewered the endlessly hopeful “Star Trek” with "The Last Voyage of the Starship Enterprise." Earlier in the episode, Dan Aykroyd plays a character that is taken advantage of by Chevy Chase’s character—and his interpreter—in a poker game.

  • #25. Christopher Walken/Panic at the Disco
    77/ NBC

    #25. Christopher Walken/Panic at the Disco

    Season 33, Episode 9
    IMDb rating: 8
    IMDb votes: 109
    Airdate: April 5, 2008

    Christopher Walken, who is famous famous for needing “more cowbell,” returned to the show as host for the seventh time. Throughout the episode, he stars in a Walken family reunion, plays a man terrified of plants unless they have googly eyes attached to them, and plays an unskilled competitor on a cooking reality show.

  • #24. Natalie Portman/Fall Out Boy
    78/ NBC

    #24. Natalie Portman/Fall Out Boy

    Season 31, Episode 13
    IMDb rating: 8
    IMDb votes: 120
    Airdate: March 4, 2006

    The cold open wasted no time in addressing Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident, by having Will Forte's President George W. Bush brief the nation. The episode also featured the digital short “Natalie Raps,” in which Natalie Portman answers Chris Parnell’s interview with a shockingly aggressive and uncharacteristic rap.

  • #23. Andy Samberg/St. Vincent
    79/ NBC

    #23. Andy Samberg/St. Vincent

    Season 39, Episode 21
    IMDb rating: 8
    IMDb votes: 182
    Airdate: May 17, 2014

    In the aftermath of the leaked elevator fight between Jay-Z and Solange, Maya Rudolph gives a royal performance as Beyoncé in a seemingly flawless cold open. In Andy Samberg’s opening monologue, he attempts to beat the number of impressions Bill Hader has performed on “SNL” with 23.

  • #22. Ariana Grande
    80/ NBC

    #22. Ariana Grande

    Season 41, Episode 15
    IMDb rating: 8
    IMDb votes: 258
    Airdate: March 12, 2016

    Ariana Grande, who's best known as a pop singer, surprised audiences by proving to be a funny host with a knack for impersonations—including ones of Britney Spears, Whitney Houston, and Shakira. A writer for Time Magazine said “Grande had never before had the occasion to reveal that she could do so much more than hit the right notes.”

  • #21. William Shatner/Lone Justice
    81/ NBC

    #21. William Shatner/Lone Justice

    Season 12, Episode 8
    IMDb rating: 8.1
    IMDb votes: 50
    Airdate: December 20, 1986

    William Shatner stepped on a few toes in his opening monologue when he discussed attending his first “Star Trek” convention, and then told Trekkies that they needed to get a life. His statement aside, the actor went on to parody the classic intergalactic series in the episode.

  • #20. Christopher Walken/Christina Aguilera
    82/ NBC

    #20. Christopher Walken/Christina Aguilera

    Season 25, Episode 16
    IMDb rating: 8.1
    IMDb votes: 77
    Airdate: April 8, 2000

    In 2000, the “SNL” cast included Jimmy Fallon, Will Ferrell, and Tracy Morgan—and joining those heavy hitters for the week was Christopher Walken. He took on a number of classic characters, but perhaps none quite as well-done as Fidel Castro.

  • #19. Madeline Kahn/Carly Simon
    83/ NBC

    #19. Madeline Kahn/Carly Simon

    Season 1, Episode 19
    IMDb rating: 8.1
    IMDb votes: 80
    Airdate: May 8, 1976

    The two biggest standouts in Madeline Kahn's episode came in the form of two completely different sketches. "Final Days" is “SNL” political commentary at its sharpest, while "Slumber Party" is an intimately funny ode to learning about the birds and the bees.

  • #18. Peyton Manning/Carrie Underwood
    84/ NBC

    #18. Peyton Manning/Carrie Underwood

    Season 32, Episode 16
    IMDb rating: 8.1
    IMDb votes: 146
    Airdate: March 24, 2007

    “SNL” hosts from the world of sports are a rarity, but Peyton Manning delivered a serviceable performance in an episode that may have brought a few new eyes to the aging series. At one point in the episode, Manning plays an actor for the film “300,” in which he butts heads with the director because he doesn’t want to murder his co-star.

  • #17. Maya Rudolph/Sleigh Bells
    85/ NBC

    #17. Maya Rudolph/Sleigh Bells

    Season 37, Episode 15
    IMDb rating: 8.1
    IMDb votes: 177
    Airdate: February 18, 2012

    Maya Rudolph returned to her old stomping ground to remind everyone what the show was missing without her, and in the process, she starred in "Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Laughs," a sketch that displayed her talents to the absolute fullest. The monologue Rudolph opened with for her first time hosting “SNL” highlighted her stage presence with a performance of “Do Ya Wanna Funk?”

  • #16. Justin Timberlake/Ciara
    86/ NBC

    #16. Justin Timberlake/Ciara

    Season 34, Episode 21
    IMDb rating: 8.1
    IMDb votes: 183
    Airdate: May 9, 2009

    Justin Timberlake is a perennial favorite on “SNL,” and for good reason—the former boy band heartthrob displays his comedic skills once again when he teams up with Kristen Wiig for a "Target Lady" sketch. Timberlake also performed “Love Sex Magic” with musical guest Ciara.

  • #15. Dwayne Johnson/George Ezra
    87/ NBC

    #15. Dwayne Johnson/George Ezra

    Season 40, Episode 16
    IMDb rating: 8.1
    IMDb votes: 197
    Airdate: March 28, 2015

    Dwayne Johnson introduced yet another iteration of President Obama—The Rock Obama, a Hulk-ish version of the former president that no one wants to get angry. One reviewer called Johnson’s fourth time hosting and specifically his restaurant sketch the “brightest hosting moment” in a future “Best Of Dwayne Johnson” program.

  • #14. Bill Hader/Arcade Fire
    88/ NBC

    #14. Bill Hader/Arcade Fire

    Season 43, Episode 18
    IMDb rating: 8.1
    IMDb votes: 215
    Airdate: March 17, 2018

    Bill Hader returned for his second time hosting, and he brought along a friend: Fred Armisen. Together, these two alums added a bit of old school fun to the latest season, with Hader performing multiple impressions in a “Jurassic Park” audition sketch, including the likes of Alan Alda, Al Pacino, and Clint Eastwood.

  • #13. Donald Glover/Childish Gambino
    89/ NBC

    #13. Donald Glover/Childish Gambino

    Season 43, Episode 21
    IMDb rating: 8.1
    IMDb votes: 238
    Airdate: May 5, 2018

    Not only did Donald Glover blow fans away as a host, he also debuted his new single "This is America." The powerful anthem with messages about gun violence, consumerism, and black America is proving itself to be one of the most prominent songs of the year.

  • #12. Steve Martin/Van Morrison
    90/ NBC

    #12. Steve Martin/Van Morrison

    Season 4, Episode 4
    IMDb rating: 8.2
    IMDb votes: 50
    Airdate: November 4, 1978

    Dan Aykroyd continued to set the standard for presidential portrayals as Jimmy Carter. In the episode's early moments, he gives an impassioned speech about why inflation might not be so bad.

  • #11. Bill Hader/Hozier
    91/ NBC

    #11. Bill Hader/Hozier

    Season 40, Episode 3
    IMDb rating: 8.2
    IMDb votes: 291
    Airdate: October 11, 2014

    Bill Hader brought back a number of his classic characters for this hosting gig, and, yes, that includes the infamous Stefon. He also offers a new impression of a heartbroken Cat in the Hat in a sitcom-style sketch with Cecily Strong as Linda, his lost love.

  • #10. Larry David/The 1975
    92/ NBC

    #10. Larry David/The 1975

    Season 41, Episode 12
    IMDb rating: 8.3
    IMDb votes: 252
    Airdate: February 6, 2016

    It seems baffling that Larry David didn't make his guest host debut until 2016, but the comic did not disappoint. His take on Bernie Sanders is particularly memorable, one reviewer even saying David took it “beyond impersonation…into something of a whimsical caricature.”

  • #9. Steve Martin/The Blues Brothers
    93/ NBC

    #9. Steve Martin/The Blues Brothers

    Season 3, Episode 18
    IMDb rating: 8.4
    IMDb votes: 92
    Airdate: April 22, 1978

    In this episode, the iconic duo of Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi made their debut as "The Blues Brothers." The pop culture impact of the act truly can't be overstated, and this is where it all began, making it an instant “SNL” classic.

  • #8. Jim Carrey/Soundgarden
    94/ NBC

    #8. Jim Carrey/Soundgarden

    Season 21, Episode 20
    IMDb rating: 8.4
    IMDb votes: 143
    Airdate: May 18, 1996

    In this 1996 episode, “SNL” saw another major cast turnover—this marked the final episode for David Spade, David Koechner, and Nancy Walls. In this episode, Jim Carrey plays an unusual spaceman in his monologue, and later an overprotective lifeguard watching out for Will Ferrell’s character, who is in an indoor whirlpool bath.

  • #7. Justin Timberlake/Lady Gaga
    95/ NBC

    #7. Justin Timberlake/Lady Gaga

    Season 36, Episode 22
    IMDb rating: 8.4
    IMDb votes: 241
    Airdate: May 21, 2011

    Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, and Andy Samberg teamed up to perform a new Lonely Island song "3-way," in which Patricia Clarkson and Susan Sarandon also appeared. The bawdy number further solidified Timberlake's status as an SNL golden boy. 

  • #6. Richard Pryor/Gil Scott-Heron
    96/ NBC

    #6. Richard Pryor/Gil Scott-Heron

    Season 1, Episode 7
    IMDb rating: 8.5
    IMDb votes: 178
    Airdate: December 13, 1975

    Richard Pryor appeared on “SNL” only once, but his appearance left a lasting impression. Alongside Chevy Chase, he participated in a sketch called "Word Association," in which the two men traded racial slurs that would never make their way onto TV today, and yet the skit remains one of the most shocking and daring stunts the show has ever pulled.

  • #5. Justin Timberlake
    97/ NBC

    #5. Justin Timberlake

    Season 32, Episode 9
    IMDb rating: 8.5
    IMDb votes: 222
    Airdate: December 16, 2006

    Why is this episode so revered? Because it was part of the show's revitalization that made it relevant in pop culture again, and it's all thanks to the Lonely Island song "D*ck in a Box."

  • #4. Jimmy Fallon/Michael Bublé
    98/ NBC

    #4. Jimmy Fallon/Michael Bublé

    Season 37, Episode 10
    IMDb rating: 8.5
    IMDb votes: 246
    Airdate: December 17, 2011

    Jimmy Fallon's first time hosting SNL since his departure as a cast member brought back some major nostalgia as well as guest stars. The list of surprise appearances included Chris Kattan, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Jude Law.

  • #3. Justin Timberlake
    99/ NBC

    #3. Justin Timberlake

    Season 38, Episode 16
    IMDb rating: 8.5
    IMDb votes: 283
    Airdate: March 9, 2013

    In 2013, Timberlake was officially inducted into the five-timer's club during an episode where the performer showed no signs of winding down. The five-timer’s club sketch had guest appearances of other members, including Steve Martin, Paul Simon, Chevy Chase, and Alex Baldwin. While Dan Aykroyd and Martin Short are not club members, they still stopped by anyway for a stroll down memory lane.

  • #2. Betty White/Jay-Z
    100/ NBC

    #2. Betty White/Jay-Z

    Season 35, Episode 21
    IMDb rating: 8.8
    IMDb votes: 357
    Airdate: May 8, 2010

    An internet campaign landed the incredible Betty White a gig hosting “SNL,” and she made the most of every minute. More than that, the episode became an ode to the show's indelible female cast members, past and present, as they one-by-one joined White in celebrating her milestone.

  • #1. Jimmy Fallon/Justin Timberlake
    101/ NBC

    #1. Jimmy Fallon/Justin Timberlake

    Season 39, Episode 10
    IMDb rating: 8.8
    IMDb votes: 429
    Airdate: December 21, 2013

    Topping the list is Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake's bromance-fueled episode. These two have a friendship that translates beautifully to the screen, as they reveal in their pitch perfect "The Barry Gibb Talk Show" sketch.

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