5 Can’t-Miss Moments from the SNL 40th Anniversary

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE 40TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL -- Pictured: Eddie Murphy on February 15, 2015 -- (Photo by: Theo Wargo/NBC)
(Photo by: Theo Wargo/NBC)

40 years of SNL was a lot to cover in just 3.5 hours.  What’s working checking out if you missed the big celebration?

SNL is 40, you guys.  40.  It’s rightly boom an American comedy institution, and a launching pad for some of the funniest people in America.  The last time the show had a big celebration like this was its 25th anniversary, but they seem to be going even bigger this time.  At 3.5 hours, we’ve come a long way from the premiere episode with George Carlin in 19751.

Amidst all the clip shows and tributes, here’s the five LIVE moments worth checking out:

Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon’s Musical Tribute

Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake kicked the 40th annivesary off right after a half hour red carpet hosted by the Today show2, covering as many recurring bits as they could in a rap tribute.

Celebrity Jeopardy

Among the many sketches revisited, Celebrity Jeopardy was a shoe-in for its ability to have multiple cast members show up.  Sean Connery and Burt Reynolds were locks for this, but the other choices (Alec Baldwin’s spectacular Tony Bennett, Kate McKinnon’s Justin Bieber) were just as nice.

Weekend Update

(How is there not a video of this one?)

SNL isn’t SNL without Weekend Update.  It’s an institution in its own right, and celebrating it by having all three lady anchors do the hosting was perfect.  Elsewhere, tributes to Update visitors Roseanne Rosannadanna (from Emma Stone) and Stefon (Edward Norton) were perfect, especially because SNL continues to make it canon that Seth Meyers and Stefon are married and have kids.

Music & SNL

Martin Short and Maya Rudolph (as Beyonce) did a great job running through all of the SNL musical sketches we’ve come to know and love.  Amongst the many wonderful bits, I loved seeing the Culps, Steve Martin’s (now not-so-shirtless) King Tut, and Nick Ocean pop up again.

Auditions

Of all the clip package, the one I wished could have gone on longer was the one showing clips from many of the cast members. It’s just as interesting to see who didn’t make it as those who did.

Honorable Mentions

  • Miley Cyrus doing a killer version of “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” for seemingly no reason3
  • Sarah Palin being dressed for the clurb.
  • The Bass-o-Matic sketch, with original players!  Dan Akroyd has gotten big, you guys.
  • A Digital Short tribute to breaking
  • The Californians, one of my lest favorite sketches, lends itself well to guest stars
  1. In more ways than one.  The full episode’s available on Netflix if you missed it on Saturday, and it’s a completely different show in many ways.  There were two musical guests, stand up comedy from George Carlin and a few others, fewer sketches than you’d expect, and some weird Muppets.  As comedy history, it’s fascinating to watch how the show has evolved into the beast it is today.  
  2. who definitely come to mind as a group I’d name Least Likely to Understand a Comedy Bit, and definitely needed way more SNL prep than they had  
  3. Paul Simon was there.  

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About Ben Smith 232 Articles

Ben has been writing about TV, music, and pop culture in some form or another since 2009, including stints at Mental Floss and Temporary Obsession. When not solving puzzles of some sort or consuming pop culture at a frightening pace, he can be found collecting shiny pieces of the internet at GoodAtInter.net. E-mail: ben@whatelseison.tv

  • My favorite thing from the George Carlin episode was the fake ad for razors. Three blades? Preposterous! …Until it actually predicted the future of shaving technology.