Hillary Busis
September 12, 2014 AT 12:00 PM EDT

The Perfect Episode

Cold Open

”The Wolverines” / Oct. 11, 1975

SNL‘s first sketch ever is short, sweet, and delightfully absurd.


Justin Timberlake / May 21, 2011

Timberlake won an Emmy for co-writing this infectious tune, which is all about how he’s not going to sing on SNL this time.

Pretaped Sketch

”Back To the Future Screen Test, Parts 1 and 2” / Oct. 30, 2010

A low concept is executed perfectly; just wait till you get to Fred Armisen’s Prince.

Musical Guest

Joe Cocker and John Belushi, ”Feelin’ Alright” / Oct. 2, 1976

Belushi’s Cocker impression is masterful — and Cocker’s performance ain’t bad either..

”Weekend Update”

The Ideal Anchor: Norm MacDonald / 1994-97

The ideal guests: Gilda Radner’s Roseanne Roseannadanna, Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man, and Bill Hader’s Stefon

Fake Game Show

”Celebrity Jeopardy!” Oct. 23, 1999

Two words: Turd Ferguson

10-to-1 Sketch

”Goodnight Saigon” / May 16, 2009

It’s a cerebral weirdfest, as most sketches in this slot tend to be. The difference is this one’s actually funny.

Extra-credit Reading List

Live From New York

This newly updated oral history, which includes interviews with just about everyone associated with SNL (except, notably, Eddie Murphy), is required reading for any serious Saturday Night obsessive.


Tina Fey’s 2011 book is half memoir, half essay collection — but its juiciest material comes when she chronicles her time on SNL, which she also used as the basis for 30 Rock.

Gasping For Airtime

As the title implies, Jay Mohr’s 2004 memoir is a warts-and-all account of his brief, undistinguished time on SNL in the mid-’90s.

God, If You’re Not Up There, I’m F—ED

SNL‘s longest-tenured cast member has a whole lot of demons — and Darrell Hammond addresses each one in his raw 2011 tell-all.

The Best Sketch From Every Season

Season 1 ”word association”

2 ”Consumer Probe”

3 ”The Festrunk Brothers”

4 ”Point/Counterpoint”

5 ”Lord & Lady Douchebag”

6 ”Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood”

7 ”Buh-weet Sings”

8 ”Merry Christmas, Dammit!”

9 ”James Brown’s Celebrity Hot Tub Party”

10 ”Synchronized Swimming”

11 ”The Stand-Ups”

12 ”Star Trek Convention”

13 ”Church Chat” (with Sean Penn)

14 ”Toonces, the Driving Cat”

15 ”Wayne’s World” (with Aerosmith)

16 ”Chippendales Auditions”

17 ”Mr. Belvedere Fan Club”

18 ”Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker”

19 ”The Denise Show”

20 ”The Chanukah Song”

21 ”The Roxbury Guys”

22 ”Tom Brokaw Pre-Tapes”

23 ”Dysfunctional Family Argues Over Dinner”

24 ”NPR’s ‘Delicioius Dish’ with Pete Schweddy”

25 ”Behind the Music: Blue Öyster Cult”

26 ”First Presidential Debate”

27 ”Patriotic Shorts”

28 ”Colonel Angus”

29 ”Debbie Downer”

30 ”Woomba”

31 ”Lazy Sunday”

32 ”D— In a Box”

33 ”Indoor Gardening Tips From A Man Who’s Very Scared of Plants”

34 ”Sarah Palin and HIllary Clinton Address the Nation”

35 ”Census Taker”

36 ”What’s That Name?”

37 ”Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Laughs”

38 ”Stefon’s Halloween Tips”

39 ”(Do It On My) Twin Bed”

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