Will Ferrell’s been away from “SNL” for 10 years now. I don’t know how we’ve kept it together since then, as Americans. He was the closest thing to this country’s Kim Jong-Il: Everyone would cry in the street if he died, and sunglasses made him look like something in one of the saltwater tanks at Sea World.
Plus, he defined our moral fiber there for a few years. If there was a Will Ferrell Constitution, it would almost exclusively tell us that it’s awesome to yell at helpless dogs, and that you desperately need to get off the damn shed. That was the turn of the century in a nutshell.
Well, thank god, Will Ferrell’s back on Saturday hosting “SNL.” We get a reminder of the good ol’ days, when he could talk about the moon as a food product for five minutes and that would be considered a complete sketch.
In fact, here are our 10 favorite Ferrell sketches of all time. We’re hoping at least six of them make it into this week’s show. And we hope he’ll still be making Elian Gonzalez jokes during Janet Reno’s Dance Party.–Ben Collins
10 – Patio Lovers
Why is it that the only people who regale you with tales of slowly licking tzatziki off their lovah‘s toes under the warm glow of a sultry, Tunisian moon whose beams dance playfully between their four naked thighs as they engage in a passionate lovemaking session under the watchful eyes of a knowing desert wolf are the ones you wouldn’t want to imagine doing it…and frequently English professors, coincidentally? Will knows. -Martin Moakler
9 – Sculpture Class
Students will be tested on their ability to sculpt an effigy of a nude, homeless Will Ferrell in an art class taught by Lucy Lawless, a.k.a Xena: Warrior Princess. How could the scenario not be completely hilarious? In this sketch from 1998, Ferrell offers excessively vivid descriptions of his tragic existence, “You talk about ancient beauty and classical forms, but if you ask me, you wouldn’t recognize a real beauty if it was outside in the parking lot, waiting to give you hepatitis.”
The formless, almost pre-historic man yells as students grimace, “Uh oh, mighty Kong has woken from his slumber!” As in most of Ferrell’s best bits, his hulking presence makes itself known.
In any satire of art world dynamics, it is such a reward when they show you the object itself: Shopping Network style, rotating camera shots depict sculptures of “the thinker” and “the stinker,” against poorly lit velvet. What’s more moving? The art exhibition, or the exhibitionist? You need to see this clip in order to fully appreciate the savage beauty of Will Ferrell. –Lee Foley
8 – Dissing Your Dog
It’s not every day that SNL hits it out of the park with their commercial parodies, but Dissing Your Dog definitely pulled it off by getting Ferrell all mustachioed and passive-aggressive. What starts as a hilarious spoof on pet training tapes quickly turns into an All-Star Will Ferrell performance, as he mercilessly berates his puppy pals into being trained companions. Not only is this sketch one of the best commercial parodies SNL has done, but it definitely holds its own amongst pet owners everywhere. To this day I still insult pets with hopes of befriending or training said animal, and I am still in hopes of creating Dissing Your Cat. ”Remember there’s one thing stronger than a dog’s sense of smell–his sense of irony.”–Gabe Pasillas
7 – The Spartan Cheerleaders
Will Ferrell teamed up with fellow cast member Cheri Oteri to give us one of the most clueless pairs of high school pariahs in TV history. As Craig and Arianna, the unsanctioned Spartan Cheerleaders of East Lake High, they struck a chord with everyone who was ever shunned from the in-crowd — or all crowds, for that matter. The Spartans weren’t exactly “invited” to any of the school sporting events that they so eagerly attended, but they never let that dampen their rabid enthusiasm for all things Spartan. Dabbing at their perpetually sweaty temples with oversized bath towels, the duo was there to cheer on everyone from the chess team to the school’s ping-pong players. The unsolicited routines often invited derision from athletes and bystanders, including a real Spartan Cheerleader played by Quentin Tarantino. An agitated chess player summed it up by saying, “Do you know how far you’ve fallen when the chess team makes fun of you?”
Adding to the Spartans’ signature awkwardness was how conspicuously gigantic Ferrell was next to tiny Oteri — a disproportion that enabled Oteri to use him as a human jungle gym, spending an exorbitant amount of time clambering in and around his genital area like an excitable spider monkey. I’d rather watch this excessively sweaty, obliviously inappropriate pair over official cheerleaders anytime — if only to feel better about who I was in high school. Go Spartans!–Naivasha Dean
6 – Get Off The Shed
In an economy like this, where it costs twice as much to fill up your gas tank and three times as much to feed your family, when your debt has you debating your existence on this planet, when it sometimes feels like the whole world has gone to Hell, it’s important to remember this one thing:
Get off the shed. I will punch you in the face if you don’t get off the shed. Get off the shed.
Get off the damn shed.–Ben Collins
5 – Inside the Actors Studio
Every once in a while, pop culture gives the world things that are bound to be an SNL sketch. Let’s be real: Some people are just asking for it. When Bravo started airing episodes of James Lipton’s “Inside the Actors Studio”, it was only a matter of time until an SNL player took the classic overly enthusiastic host and turned it into a sketch. Nobody was more fit for the job then Ferrell, as he somewhat flawlessly created words and scenarios to describe shows, guests, and acting abilities that can only be described as “Scrumtralescent!”
After first appearing in 2000, Ferrell continued the Lipton character for years, even using his impersonation on the true “Inside the Actors Studio” where he finally interviewed James Lipton, himself. Ferrell has also admitted that this impression has inspired other character elements in “Megamind” (as the titular character) and maybe less noticeably as Ron Burgundy in “Anchorman”. Nevertheless, Will Ferrell will always be known for doing a killer James Lipton, and one can only hope there is a little James Lipton in all Will Ferrell characters to come.–Gabe Pasillas
4 – Janet Reno’s Dance Party
The Nineties were a stressful time, domestically, and an Attorney General needed an escape from the stresses of the David Koreshes, Unabombers and Elián Gonzalezes of the world. Will recognized that he gave Reno an outlet through which she could vicariously use her sweet moves to forget about the worries of the Bubba Administration: a public access dance show! More Wacko than Waco, Ferrell’s Reno wasn’t afraid to tell off teenagers, engage in Battles Royale with the mayor of New York or just show off her beloved D.O.J. (Dances of Janet). -Martin Moakler
3 – Harry Caray: Space, The Infinite Frontier
This skit’s over 15 years old now, so here’s a fun game. Walk up to a 10th grader in the least creepy way you can think of. This task is almost impossible unless you can talk on a super deep, advanced bullshit level about the Hunger Games, so have that info at the ready.
Then say this sentence: “It’s a simple question: Would you eat the moon if it were made of ribs?”
As they wheel you to a nursing home, laugh about how badly these 15-year-olds are missing out.–Ben Collins
2 – More Cowbell
If someone asked me what my version of heaven would be, it would be a crystal clear day on a tropical beach with a margarita in my hand. If option A wasn’t available, then option B would be watching Will Ferrell’s flabby muffin-top mid-section bounce around under a skin-tight polyester lime green shirt while Jimmy Fallon giggles like a school girl in the background to one of my favorite Classic rock tunes: Don’t Fear the Reaper. Perhaps one of the most iconic and memorable SNL skits of Will Ferrell’s career is the Blue Oyster Cult VH1 Behind the Music parody that ran in 2000. The almost unreasonably razor-sharp cast of SNL alums (Will Ferrell, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Kattan, Chris Parnell, and Horatio Sanz) accompanied by the undisputed dark comedy cult hero Christopher Walken engendered the kind of on-screen chemistry that comes around once in an, um, “blue oyster” moon.
Determining the success and social impact of an SNL skit is an art that transcends counting tweets and measuring ratings . The skit must first disrupt–then by virtue define–the status quo. So much so that, upon retrospect, the SNL fan must reflect upon their drab pre-cowbell lives and ask themselves, “Did my life even have meaning before Gene Frenkle’s ingenious interpretive cow-bell rhythmical musical masterpiece? What I was thought was color, I now see was only black-and-white”… Suffice it to say, it can be ascertained that this untouched pinnacle triumph in SNL (& Will Ferrell) history merits no less than a gold medal in the game of “disrupting and redefining” history and pop culture: After the broadcast of this skit on SNL, Blue Oyster Cult fans actually expressed sympathy for the loss of Gene Frenkle, with whom the sketch was dedicated in memoriam – the fictional cow-bell yearning character with whom Will Ferrell was portraying.
I guess the only prescription for these confused fans would be more cowbell.–Brooke Citron
1 – Celebrity Jeopardy
While most kids coveted a spot on Legends of the Hidden Temple, my nerdy tween self desperately wanted to appear on Jeopardy. Every day after my daily dose of Saved by the Bell and Fresh Prince reruns, I’d change the channel to tune into Jeopardy, crossing my fingers that there wouldn’t be a sports category to derail my winning streak. For me, Celebrity Jeopardy was even worse than a board devoted solely to sports. It featured inane categories, confused contestants, and a poor, frustrated Alex Trebek who looked even more tired and strained than my overtaxed teachers.
It’s no surprise that Will Ferrell found fertile comedic ground in Alex’s suffering, and in a rare performance as the straight man to Norm MacDonald’s inspired Burt Reynolds and Darrell Hammond’s unforgettable Sean Connery, perfectly captured the host’s thinly veiled frustration with his special guests. Thanks to Will Ferrell, I went from hoping never to see Celebrity Jeopardy again to crossing my fingers every Saturday night that I’d get to spend some time with Alex and his merry band of idiots who couldn’t name a color that ends in “urple.”–Andrea Marker