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Ranking The SNL Season 45 Sketches Cut For Time

Every episode of Saturday Night Live is put together in just six days, from the Monday pitch meeting with whoever the host is that week to the Wednesday table read to the dress rehearsal just before the show goes live. That kind of rapid-fire creation means that a lot of ideas have to be generated each week, then pared down to fit the 90-minute runtime of the final broadcast. In the process, the show's writers and cast come up with a lot of sketch ideas that will never make it to air. Some of these are lost in the pitch meeting, others don't get past the table read, but a select few make it all the way to dress rehearsal before being "cut for time."

Thanks to the rise of YouTube, sketches that used to simply be lost to everyone but the dress rehearsal audience are now available for all to see. Some were presumably cut because they didn't quite have the response necessary for broadcast, while others were legitimately left out simply because there wasn't enough time left to fit them in. Whatever the case, they're still worth seeing, if only to find out what didn't work. Here's our look at all of the SNL season 45 sketches cut for time, and how they rank worst to best.

"Open Mic"

There are certain standard formats the Saturday Night Live writing team enjoys playing with because they allow a lot of cast members to showcase various comedic styles and characters all at the same time. It's why game shows are such a popular starting point for sketches, and why you keep seeing those "lost audition tapes for a famous movie" sketches popping up.

"Open Mic" is a sketch cut from this cloth with a very simple premise: A trendy Los Angeles venue is hosting its open mic night, and a bunch of wacky people get up and do their thing. You've got host Kristen Stewart and Kate McKinnon as a pair of sisters who escaped a cult, Melissa Villaseñor as an attention-hogging songstress, Kyle Mooney as a John Mayer type whose influences include "black and white photography," and more. This is all fine, but the sketch feels so overstuffed that none of these personas really have room to develop, and their starting points aren't that great to begin with.

"Jeans Commercial"

The commercial parody is one of the most tried-and-true formats in Saturday Night Live's storied history, and the pre-taped format of most of these sketches allows the cast and the writers to get a higher production value for what is essentially one joke. The one-dimensional aspect of it might be a problem if it were a longer sketch, but it plays in 90 seconds, and you can work through some really outrageous things.

"Jeans Commercial" takes a group of men in a bar and builds them up as the kind of guys who like to cut loose, then reveals its one joke: The commercial is for jeans with a peek-a-boo window on the butt. The rest of the ad is basically just a showcase for Will Ferrell, Alex Moffat, and others to show their cracks for a few seconds, as the voiceover reveals that you can get these jeans in a number of different styles. The higher production value of the commercial parody means that the joke plays, but even for a sketch of this kind the joke is rather thin. Yes, butts are funny, but the diminishing returns kick in rather quickly.

"80s Drug PSA"

Kenan Thompson is Saturday Night Live's longest-tenured cast member, and over the course of nearly two decades on the show he's proven time and time again why he's able to stick around. The guy is just dependable, whether you need him to carry an entire sketch or simply be the guy in the corner reacting to all the weirdness going on around him. He's never been the flashiest guy in the cast, but he helps hold the show together because he can extract something from an audience even if a sketch is dying.

This sketch takes the form of a throwback commercial in which a group of kids who want to try crack are interrupted by "The Sober Brothers," played by Thompson and host Chance the Rapper. The joke is that one of the brothers (Chance) is trying to talk the kids out of using crack, while the other (Thompson) is really curious about this cheap new drug. There's nothing groundbreaking about the sketch, and it goes on a bit too long, but there's Kenan right in the middle of it, wringing laughs out even when the premise seems to be withering around him.


Over the course of his time on SNL, Kyle Mooney (alongside frequent partner Beck Bennett) has gained a reputation as a guy with a knack for weirdness both as a writer and a performer. Mooney is able to dig deep into the awkward strangeness of various characters and use it to his advantage, particularly when it comes to throwback, VHS-style parodies.

"Jason" is a sketch that fits firmly in this category, a vaguely 1990s saga of two brothers, one of whom is way cooler than the other. Mooney's main character is a nerdy high school senior whose younger brother Jason (host Harry Styles) is a much cooler freshman. After Jason's friends bully him, Mooney's character launches into an awkward rap music video about how different he and his brother are. The sketch doesn't really pick up steam until Styles himself starts to do his own awkward rap, and by the end it's already almost run out of road. Still, there's enough weirdness here to make it compelling, even if it does seem like too much of a slow burn.

"Tampax Secrets"

The best Saturday Night Live commercial parodies are able to take the brief space they have to work in and slip some real strangeness in between the one-note quality of the sketch format. You only have enough room for one high-concept hook in the parody's runtime, yes, but within that space you can do all sorts of things. "Tampax Secrets" might not be the most successful version of this ambitious approach, but it still works well enough that it's worth seeing.

This particular sketch parodies tampon commercials with the offer of a new product that disguises tampons as something you'd rather be seen holding, like dog poop or a dead mouse. The overt joke, of course, is that our culture treats tampon as something to be embarrassed about when it shouldn't, but the sketch manages to take things just a little further. The list of options for what the tampons are disguised as goes to some truly bonkers places, and the final joke — that the tampon is blurred just like the dog poop, for some reason — really ties it all together.

"Date in Mexico"

Here's another tried and true Saturday Night Live sketch format that's both endlessly adaptable and, usually, pretty reliable. "Date In Mexico" follows the basic framework of showing us some very reasonable, normal people and then putting them right next to a crazy person. In this case, the normal people are a couple (Chris Redd and Cecily Strong) on vacation, and the crazy person is Will Ferrell, who's playing a guy waiting for the Eastern European "girlfriend" he paid for via the internet to show up.

Because of the setup, the sketch is basically just a showcase for Ferrell's inherent gifts as a sketch performer. We get to watch as he grows increasingly unhinged as he gets the bad news that his date won't be showing up, and the sketch is enthusiastic enough to throw in a number of other weird notes, including Strong's comments about how cracked Ferrell's phone screen is. By the end, you've got Ferrell tearing into a lobster like an animal, and while that's not exactly sophisticated, it's definitely funny.

"Cast List"

In recent years Saturday Night Live has really leaned into high school drama parodies as fertile ground for sketches, probably because many of its writers and stars are former drama nerds themselves. "Cast List" is cut from this cloth, and features a group of theater kids (including Bowen Yang, Heidi Gardner, Aidy Bryant, and Mikey Day) standing outside their teacher's (Will Ferrell) office, waiting for him to tell them who got cast in their latest production. Anticipation is high, and so is anxiety. The joke is that Ferrell's drama teacher character knows this and wants nothing more than to keep ratcheting it up.

The sketch is an excuse for Ferrell to play a weird, bombastic theater teacher who believes he's much more important than he actually is, which works. The sketch also manages to make room for other characters, particularly Yang and Day, to get some strangeness in along the way. It's a bit scattered and perhaps a bit long, but it's worth it just to see Kenan Thompson and Kate McKinnon make their last-second appearances.

"Giuliani & Associates"

Though she's getting competition from newer cast members like Melissa Villaseñor and Heidi Gardner these days, Kate McKinnon remains SNL's reigning go-to impressionist in Season 45. She can seemingly slip into just about anyone if given the right time and the right hook, and that's made her especially valuable in the show's many politics-driven sketches. "Giuliani & Associates" is a chance for McKinnon to put one of her most unsettling impressions, Rudy Giuliani, to particularly good use, as the title character tries to drum up business with a new ad for his law firm.

This time around, McKinnon's Giuliani gets an assist from Beck Bennett and host David Harbour as two of the "associates" of the title. They both have wild accents and even wilder looks, and as the ad goes on they both get increasingly bizarre with their offers of both criminal activity and other seedy dealings. It's a little obvious as a premise, but Harbour in particular is giving it everything he's got, and by the time he's holding up a gourd near the end, the entire audience seems on board with it.

"New Play"

"New Play" is another one of those SNL sketches that follows the "reasonable people who are put-upon by some absurd behavior" format, and in this cast that format is married to the "someone does a silly voice" gag. Neither of those is guaranteed to work, and the silly voice route can turn into something particularly one-note, but in the case of "New Play" it all comes together as a sketch that really feels like it could have made it to air.

In this sketch, a playwright has written a new drama that's about to have its first rehearsal with its small cast (Cecily Strong, Beck Bennett, and host Phoebe Waller-Bridge), two of whom are gifted British actresses who didn't have to audition. As the rehearsal starts, they reveal that the "Nebraska accent" they've both practiced is not just off, but hilariously weird. Strong and Waller-Bridge both throw themselves into both their silly voices and their attempts to appear as serious about their craft as possible. To make things even better, the primary person reacting to their weirdness is Kenan Thompson, the King of Funny Reaction Shots. Not all cut for time sketches become hidden gems, but this one definitely deserves to be.

"Harry Styles Sketch"

Will Ferrell is one of the greatest performers to ever join the Saturday Night Live cast. When he returns to the show to host, it's an event not just for SNL fans, but for fans of TV comedy in general. Ferrell remains one of those performers that ups everyone's game when he returns to the show, and even his weakest episodes manage quite a few laughs.

Ferrell's Season 45 hosting gig was an ambitious one, so much so that a number of promising sketches were actually left off the live broadcast. That list of sketches unfortunately includes this hilarious number, crafted from the premise that it was actually written for host Harry Styles the week before and therefore shouldn't work for Ferrell. Within that premise, Ferrell gets to pretend to be a hot teen boy named "English Kevin," with all the wardrobe and fake tattoos that entails. Ferrell, as he always does, leans all the way into the character, while Kate McKinnon, Cecily Strong, and Aidy Bryant react to him like he's the hottest boy in school. By the time he's trying to sexily eat ice cream while doing a cute British accent, it's all over. This sketch works on every level.