TV

'SNL' 40th Anniversary Special: The 9 Greatest Segments of the Night

by Zach Seemayer 2:14 AM PST, February 16, 2015
Photo: NBC

Saturday Night Live's massive, star-studded, three-and-a-half hour 40th anniversary special pulled out all the stops, giving fans the nostalgic retrospective everyone wanted, while creating brand new content that proves once and for all that any of the show's beloved characters and sketches can still stand the test of time.

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Like any episode of SNL, there were a few bumps and hiccups here or there, but that didn't matter because it was still hard to stop smiling.

Below, we take a look at the nine funniest, most nostalgic moments of the night.

9. Wayne's World Returns


Dana Carvey and Mike Myers reprised their roles as Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar in an SNL-themed episode of Wayne's World that might have been as good (or better) than most of the actual Wayne's World sketches that aired on SNL during the duo's time as cast members. Aside from some biting jokes about the show itself, they also got to make fun of Kanye West, and he actually seemed to be a good sport about it, which is impressive for a whole host of reasons.

8. SNL Audition Tapes



Before they were on SNL, the cast members were just scared, nervous comedians doing impressions for Lorne Michaels on an empty set with no one laughing. SNL auditions are notoriously known for being stressful and intimidating, and it was amazing to see the tryouts for some of the cast members who became the show's biggest stars. It was almost more interesting to see the audition tapes for comics who didn't get cast but went on to become huge stars and even guest hosts -- like Jim Carrey and Zach Galifianakis.

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7. Betty White and Bradley Cooper Make Out


This really happened, and it was great. For the 40th anniversary special, one of the sketches they chose to showcase was the painfully silly soap opera spoof "The Californians." However, given this sketch's wide array of guest stars (including Taylor Swift and Kerry Washington), it was funnier than it's ever been. Plus, the segment ended with Bradley Cooper and Betty White making out like crazy. That's just good comedy right there.

6. Ex-Hosts Host 'The Monologue'


Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin, Tom Hanks, Paul Simon, Paul McCartney, Payton Manning, Melissa McCarthy, Chris Rock, Miley Cyrus and Billy Crystal being on stage at the same time made this easily one of the best monologues in years. Martin started by saying comedians make the best hosts, and were the backbone of SNL. Hanks disagreed, saying that it was really actors who dominated as hosts. Each star then represented their own category of host, with Cyrus representing musicians, Melissa McCartney standing up for female hosts, Rock for hosts who were also cast members, Manning for hosts who are athletes, and Crystal for hosts who are also Broadway legends. Simon and Paul McCartney stood up for guest hosts named Paul, but Martin pointed out that is a narrow category.

Here's some SNL trivia for you: Technically, McCartney has never hosted, only been the musical guest six times. There have also only been five guest hosts named Paul (Paul Simon, Paul Rudd, Paul Giamatti, Paul Shaffer, and Paul Reiser.

5. Jerry Seinfeld's Q&A


"Audience member" Q&As have been a long-standing tradition at SNL, and they are almost always funny. However, the special was about as good as it could get with John Goodman, Larry David and a slew of other stars asking Seinfeld questions about SNL and its history. However, the best part was how comfortable and confident Seinfeld was during this bit. When he appeared on the show in the past, he's stumbled or stepped on a line, but on the big night it was suddenly like he had been a cast member for the last four decades. His timing was simply incredible, and sold the entire Q&A.

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4. Jimmy and Justin's Musical Cold Open


While it wasn't a "cold open" in the traditional sense -- it was closer to a musical monologue -- Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake summarized 40 years of classic sketches in a choreographed dance number and song that really did a good job of getting everyone pumped up for the next 210 minutes of strolling down memory lane.

3. A Brand New Digital Short


 Andy Samberg and Adam Sandler teamed up for a brand new Digital Short, and it was one of the best that SNL has ever aired. The entire song celebrated the age-old sketch pitfall of "breaking," which is breaking character by laughing, because you simply can't hold it in. The song introduced clips of different cast members breaking, until finally it was just clip after clip of Jimmy Fallon and Horatio Sanz, who famously laughed in almost every single sketch they ever did as cast members.

VIDEO: Flashback: Phil Hartman On His Big SNL Break in 1989 -- 'It Gave Me A Career, Which I Didn't Have!'

2. A Look Back at SNL's Musical Comedy




Music has always played a big role on SNL, and not just the two songs each musical guest plays each episode. Martin Short and Beyonce (or rather an exceptionally gorgeous Maya Rudolph doing her stellar Beyonce impression) hosted the lengthy segment that showed love to every singing character from Kristen Wiig and Fred Armisen's Garth & Kat to Joe Piscopo's incredible Frank Sinatra impression, and so many more. While it might not have been the funniest segment of the night, it might be the one most worth watching.

1. "Celebrity Jeopardy" Featuring The Best Impressions Ever



Sunday night's special proved that "Celebrity Jeopardy" is the best sketch SNL has ever had for showcasing celebrity impressions. Aside from Will Ferrell playing the straight-man as Alex Trebek, Darrell Hammond reprised his Sean Connery, Kate McKinnon did her amazing Justin Bieber impression, Taran Killam went into a pitch-perfect Christoph Waltz, Jimmy Carrey brought back his Matthew McConaughey, Alec Baldwin showed his downright amazing Tony Bennett and Norm MacDonald ushered in the return of Burt Reynolds (a.k.a. Turd Ferguson).

VIDEO: Flashback - A 21-Year-Old Eddie Murphy Talks SNL

What was your favorite moment from the SNL special?

Check out some of the great videos below for some incredible SNL flashbacks, and interviews with past and present cast members.

You can follow Zach Seemayer on Twitter @ZachSeemayer.

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