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The Best “Saturday Night Live” Moments of 2016

December 14th, 2016 by Liz Brown

bernie sanders

“Saturday Night Live” is the longest running sketch comedy and variety show in United States history for a reason. “SNL” has provided political commentary, pop culture satire, and musical performance that reflect and shape the way we perceive. 2016 was a tumultuous year, but “SNL” has held fast to their commitment to make us laugh at ourselves, and cry a little too when we really needed it.

Check out our picks for the Best “Saturday Night Live” moments of 2016:

1. Bern Your Enthusiasm
When Larry David stepped in to take on the role of Bernie Sanders on “SNL” back in 2015, the candidate’s political revolution turned into a comedy revolution as well. By February 2016, the imitation had become so iconic that it landed David a gig as host and birthed one of the best sketches of the year. “Bern Your Enthusiasm” is a reimagining of David’s hit series “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” but this time it features Bernie Sanders as a gaffe-happy, germaphobic, social inept Presidential candidate. The sketch also featured amazing cameos from the rest of the cast playing “CYE” supporting characters:

2. Farewell, Mr. Bunting
When Fred Armisen hosted the Season 41 finale back in May 2016, we remembered exactly why he became one of the show’s superstars when he was a member of the cast. While this entire episode was brilliant, our favorite sketch was the “Dead Poet’s Society” parody called “Farewell, Mr. Bunting.” The digital short was 3 minutes of set-up for 20 seconds of joke at the end and we’re pretty sure it’s the best time investment we’ve made all year.

3. Black Jeopardy With Tom Hanks
The greatest gifts “Saturday Night Live” ever gives its viewers are those moments when we don’t see the punchline coming. When the “Black Jeopardy” sketch kicked off featuring Sasheer Zamata, Leslie Jones, and a very folksy Tom Hanks in a Donald Trump “Make America Great Again” hat, it was obvious that the Hanks character would be portrayed as completely out of his element. When it turned out that he was great at “Black Jeopardy” and actually legitimately in touch with the culture, it was one of those delightful happy comedy surprises we wish writers could come up with more often.

4.Haunted Elevator (featuring David S. Pumpkins)
Tom Hanks made our list twice this year which is no wonder. He’s been called on to host the show 8 times for a reason. We knew his October 2016 appearance would birth some new classic sketches, but no one could have predicted the popularity of awkward off-brand horror ride star David S. Pumpkins. Hanks starred as a skeleton spanking, totally unscary but undeniably hilarious nonspecific Halloween character in this sketch that will stand the test of time on wonderful weirdness points alone.

5. Dave Chappelle’s Opening Monologue
The fact that Dave Chappelle returned to TV at all after a 10-year hiatus was amazing enough. The fact that he strolled out on stage and absolutely crushed it with 10 minutes of stand-up comedy after being out of the limelight for so long felt like watching Babe Ruth come out of retirement and hit a grand slam on his first pitch.

6. Walking Dead’s Chappelle Show
Yes, Chappelle also scored two spots on our “Best of SNL 2016” list. The gruesome “Walking Dead” season premiere was still fresh in our minds when Chappelle decided to do a mash-up of the episode and some of his most beloved “Chappelle’s Show” characters. We know “Chappelle’s Show” is never coming back, but seeing this sketch was like getting to talk to a long lost best friend one last time—and then see them get their head smashed in—but in a funny way.

7. Game of Thrones: Jon Snow
“SNL” tapped in to exactly how everyone feels about “Game of Thrones” with this sketch starring host Brie Larsen that focuses on the way “GoT” writers and directors drag out every possible moment in the show for an unbearable amount of time. We thought we were the only ones who felt this way. We felt so alone, and this “SNL” sketch embraced us like Khaleesi cradling a baby dragon.

8. Fred Armisen Remembers David Bowie
Sometimes “SNL” isn’t about the laughs. It’s about helping us feel connected when something tragic happens. When David Bowie died in January, it was like the world got quiet for a second because we could all finally agree on something: a genius had passed. Fred Armisen made a special appearance on the “SNL” following Bowie’s death, gave voice to the way in which so many fans were affected by Bowie’s greatness, and introduced a classic clip from the Thin White Duke’s 1979 appearance.

9. Election Week Cold Open
“SNL” got blatantly partisan when Kate McKinnon appeared as Hillary Clinton in the cold open directly following the election and somberly performed Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” just a few days after the singer-songwriter’s death. While it was pretty clear that “SNL” writers and performers were making a political statement about their disappointment over the outcome of the election, even Trump supporters would have to admit McKinnon’s portrayal of a defeated political warrior was both powerful and memorable.

10. Thanksgiving Parade
“SNL” alumna Kristen Wiig returned as host in November 2016, reprising several of her recurring characters, but also killing it in her newfound role of a giant Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade version of Madeleine who creepily stares in a family’s window as she’s dragged down the street.
It’s funnier if you watch it. Trust us. It’s a visual gag. Just look:

Stay with the Hulu blog for more “Best of 2016” year-in-review posts and coverage of your favorite shows.