Saturday Night Live is deeply embedded in the American culture fabric—and Sunday evening, it celebrated its 40th anniversary with a marathon 3.5 hour show. Celebrating its past pioneers, present cast and the characters and sketches that have shaped the entertainment landscape for four decades, the live episode was full of memorable moments.
Here are my favorites:
Will Ferrell, Darrell Hammond and Norm Macdonald reprised their classic roles as Alex Trebek, Sean Connery and Burt Reynolds/Turd Ferguson, respectively—and it was brilliant. One of the best recurring sketches in SNL history, the anniversary episode’s reboot did not miss a beat. A befuddled and increasingly annoyed Trebek, a purposely antagonistic-and-mispronouncing Connery and a foam hat clad Reynolds reminded us just how truly side-splitting SNL can be.
Can we talk about how great it was to see Maya Rudolph’s Beyoncé impression again? Definitely one of the better impressions from the later casts. She had palpable chemistry with Martin Short as they introduced a variety of SNL’s beloved musical characters. Steve Martin did King Tut. Adam Sandler did Opera man. Dana Carvey revived Derek Stevens and performed “Choppin’ Broccoli.” It was a sublime trip down Saturday Night Live’s music memory lane. I would have loved to see the inclusion of “Buckwheat sings” as opposed to Eddie Murphy’s awkward appearance, but you can’t always get what you want.
I will be the first to admit that I’m no fan of Miley Cyrus’s campy radio-pop, she took the road-less-traveled on SNL40, forgoing her traditional catalogue and instead opting for a terrific cover of Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” The arrangement was unique, and the choruses highlighted her vocal ability. Dare I say she sounded far better than Paul McCartney?
4. Bill Murray’s Theme from Jaws
This could have fallen under #2, but c’mon: it’s Bill Murray, he deserves . He was in peak Murray form during SNL40, returning as lounge singer Nick Ocean, lamenting his lost love: Jaws. With Paul Shaffer on the keyboard, Bill belted out such lines as, “You took me! You took me out of the deep blue. You took me and you made me, you made me, made me part of you.”
Pure brilliance. Someone elect this man to public office. Bill: America needs you.