The Best And Worst Sketches Of SNL's 47th Season

The 2021-2022 TV season marked the 47th run of "Saturday Night Live," NBC's venerable late-night comedy and variety institution. Nearly 50 years in, the show is still going strong, holding its spot as a star-making powerhouse. Season 47 has also proved to be a pivotal one for "SNL," largely due to some major cast shifts. New additions like Sarah Sherman, Aristotle Athari, and comedy troupe Please Don't Destroy joined the show and made an immediate, positive impact, while veteran stars Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon, Kyle Mooney, and Pete Davidson all decided to walk away from "SNL" after the season finale.

But amidst all those changes lay the sketches. Over the course of nine months, a 90-minute show requires hundreds of them. Some of them were comic perfection, others not so much. In 2021-2022, the "SNL" writers and repertory players presented some of the series' most memorable sketches ever — for better and for worse. Here are the very best comedy bits from Season 47 of "Saturday Night Live," along with the ones that just didn't land.

Best: Kid Klash

Will Forte carved out a niche on "Saturday Night Live" in the early 2000s as the star and writer of oddball sketches about strange or unlikeable people. Perpetual political candidate Tim Calhoun, "The Falconer," and "MacGruber" are all some of his more famous characters. Forte returned to "SNL" in December of 2021 as a host and unveiled a brand-new, totally unpredictable character in the sketch "Kid Klash." 

At the sketch's outset, the oversized food-themed props and bright colors suggest a parody of an '80s or '90s kids game show, à la "Double Dare." "Kid Clash" delivers, featuring Forte as a suit-and-sneakers wearing host who's far more sadistic and anti-kid than Marc Summers ever was. He challenges a child (Aidy Bryant) to an obstacle course, but she can't get through even the first task — finding a flag in a giant cream pie — because the flag is ridiculously tiny and the same color as the cream. The timer runs out, and the child loses out on the prize (a single pizza she can keep "for life"), but the host tells her she still has to complete the task before she can go. Her tut-tutting parents agree, viewing it as a learning experience because she "never sees anything through." It's an absurd twist on an otherwise ordinary parody, and Forte and Bryant are both hilarious.

Worst: Good Morning Columbus

"SNL" occasionally likes to see just how much it can get away with on an ad-supported network broadcast. There's a mini-genre of sketches consisting mostly of double entendres and words that sound dirty but aren't, and these can be effective, funny, and envelope-pushing. But 2021's "Good Morning Columbus," featuring host Willem Dafoe, doesn't come close to matching the clever but filthy wordplay of predecessors like "Colonel Angus Comes Home" or "Superspreader Event."

As part of a segment on a cheesy local Ohio morning show, Dafoe plays the author of a self-help book called "Knowing Yourself." However, through spoken introductions and on-screen chyrons, the first word is misspoken as "blowing," leading to all sorts of the same joke repeated throughout the sketch. The author and on-the-scene reporter's otherwise innocent comments sound dirty after the enduring error, like how the book is about "going down" and is "a lot to swallow." It's just one okay joke, repeated for five minutes.

Best: Word Crunch

"Word Crunch," part of the 2022 "SNL" episode hosted by Zoe Kravitz, shows that "Saturday Night Live" is still more than capable of mining five minutes of hilarious material out of little more than a couple of semi-dirty words. It's Kravitz's full-on dedication and utter indignation as a dumb and libertine game show contestant that makes "Word Crunch" such an effective sketch. In this game show parody, run by an increasingly frustrated host (Andrew Dismukes), contestants earn points by spotting words in a large jumble of letters, like in a word search or Boggle. 

Kravitz's character can seemingly only spot the word "momhole," which, well, isn't really a word. She doubles down, though, calling out the word over and over and refusing to understand why she can't get points for it. She only lets up for the final puzzle, where she spots a number of similarly juvenile and anatomical words.

Worst: The Understudy

According to former "SNL" star and head writer Tina Fey, fellow writer Jim Downey coined the phrase "sneaker upper," which describes the show's habit of having a real celebrity show up alongside a cast member doing an impression of them. "SNL" has had a lot of sneaker uppers over the decades, and it added another in the 2022 show hosted by Benedict Cumberbatch.

The actor's "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" co-star Elizabeth Olson pops up in a pre-taped bit behind cast member Chloe Fineman, who imitates Olson while wearing a replica of her Scarlet Witch costume. All of that Hollywood business and the singular focus on Fineman's impersonation (which to be fair is uncannily spot-on) make for a sketch that just kind of sits there. The rest of "The Understudy" depicts Fineman doing very good impressions of her "SNL" castmates, with the premise that she's everybody's understudy. But while her impressions are certainly impressive and entertaining, the sketch doesn't really do anything to move the needle comedy-wise.

Best: Man Park

There's a lot of comedy to be mined from the difficulty grown men have making friends with other grown men, as the "SNL" sketch "Man Park" demonstrates. Where do guys meet other guys if they don't have school, social hobbies, or a job that includes human contact? How will they be able to talk about "man stuff" like sports and Vin Diesel with one another without burdening their girlfriends and wives? According to this pre-taped "Saturday Night Live" sketch from the 2021 Jonathan Majors-hosted episode, dudes can befriend other dudes the same way that dogs shut up in the house all day do: By going to the park. 

"Man Park" is about a dog park, but for guys. The sketch suggests that men and pooches are not all that different, as they scope each other out, sniff one another, and bark fragments of banal conservation to gauge interest ("Rise and grind," "Marvel," etc.). While bonding over group singalongs of "Mr. Brightside" and drinking IPAs, the men in the sketch hilariously show that intimate male friendships don't have to be hard — all you need is a trip to the park.

Worst: A Peek at Pico

The more local and specific a "Saturday Night Live" sketch is, the smaller the target audience is, and the higher the risk of upsetting that audience. While the show often features jokes and segments about daily life and politics in and around its New York City home, the Selena Gomez-hosted episode from 2022 includes a sketch about Pico Rivera, a mid-sized city near Los Angeles with a predominantly Latinx community. Relying on the tired local talk show format (which these days only seems to exist on TV as an "SNL" sketch premise), "A Peek at Pico" trades primarily in broad racial stereotypes. Through thick accents, Gomez and cast member Melissa Villaseñor call each other "chica," discuss rap music, and comment on the goings-on in their community by remarking tersely and unhumorously, "that's bad" or "that's sad." Mikey Day recurs throughout as a frustrated on-the-scene reporter trying to tell a story that's of no interest to either host.

Arguably not a great sketch comically speaking, "A Peek at Pico" also upset residents of the real-life Pico Rivera. "We're definitely disappointed about the skit," city manager Steve Carmona told The Mercury News. "The characters are not indicative of who we are. We work hard to promote positive images."

Best: Monkey Trial

Stand-up comedian and former "SNL" writer John Mulaney joined the illustrious Five-Timers Club when he hosted in February of 2022 — an episode that includes one of the most audacious bits of controlled chaos and delightful silliness in the show's history. "Monkey Trial," later revealed to be a daytime courtroom show called "Monkey Judge," stars Mulaney as a no-nonsense jurist who also happens to be a talking monkey. 

He acts in all the ways one would expect a monkey to behave, and as Judge Tango, Mulaney explains all of his disgusting and wild animal behavior in a blunt, matter-of-fact style. "The court recognizes the shape he normally associates with treats," he says to the defense attorney (Cecily Strong) as she deftly tries to manipulate Tango with a birthday cake. The Judge then places the cake on his pile of shredded newspaper after admonishing the plaintiff — who's suing a neighbor over a monkey attack — for wearing the wrong hat. It's a bizarre but hilarious sketch with great performances from all involved.

Worst: Karaoke All-Stars

"Karaoke All-Stars" would've made a decent middle-of-the-episode "Saturday Night Live" sketch in 1995. In 2021, though, it comes off as outdated and incredibly basic. Framed as a cable access TV show (an '80s and '90s phenomenon satirized in "SNL" classics like "Wayne's World"), the sketch points out cliches of small-town bar karaoke nights as if that's a cutting-edge concept. Set at Bixby's Bar and Grill in Wilmington, North Carolina, Chloe Fineman and Kenan Thompson play the show's host and bar owner, respectively. They introduce various "SNL" cast members portraying hackneyed karaoke mainstays, like a drunk patron, people who don't know the lyrics, and innocent couples who are just trying to have a fun night. 

One sequence leads to a line that accidentally describes "Karaoke All-Stars" as a whole. James Austin Johnson and Melissa Villaseñor, otherwise master impressionists, imitate regular people doing very bad takes on Homer and Marge Simpson singing "Islands in the Stream." "It's not really music. It's not really comedy," Thompson's character quips in response. "It's basically nothing."

Best: Aidy's Dream

"Aidy's Dream" is a high-wire act of self-aware writing and purposely over-the-top acting — part live, in-studio sketch and part taped segment. Veteran cast member Aidy Bryant lays out the premise from a dressing room, explaining that after portraying teachers, moms, and middle-aged women 150 times on "SNL," the producers finally decided to let her play a younger, less inhibited bombshell type. For Bryant, that takes the form of a seductive 1940s-style femme fatale with whom handsome guest host Oscar Isaac is hopelessly, overwhelmingly, unabashedly in love. 

Amidst clunky, starry-eyed romantic come-ons, Bryant pops in to explain that beforehand she lied to Isaac and claimed that her character is a popular recurring one called "The Sexual Woman." This forces her to make up a very crude catchphrase on the spot and explain why the cue cards have Isaac's character using his real name. It all works out as a bit of giddy, ridiculous, self-assured meta-comedy that allows Bryant to play a rare romantic lead while also commenting on typecasting traps.

Worst: The People's Kourt

When a non-actor or non-comedian hosts "Saturday Night Live," it's almost inevitable that a sketch will address the source of their fame. For athletes, it's a silly sketch revolving around sports, and for a reality star like Kim Kardashian, there's "The People's Kourt," a sketch that makes reference to her large, dramatic family and the reality TV dynasty they launched. As if to aggressively prove that she can take a joke — and her family is often the butt of many — Kardashian plays her sister, Kourtney, as a TV judge lording over a courtroom that hears family complaints. 

Rather than raise any real points about reality TV or the nature of modern celebrity, the sketch just reinforces the Kardashians' media dominance. It's ultimately an exercise in self-indulgence and passive-aggressive grudge-addressing. Chris Redd makes an appearance as Kardashian's ex-husband Kanye West, for example, and Kim's mother and manager Kris appears to grab the spotlight for a minute. There's potential in the idea, but the execution just falls flat, leaving the sketch feeling hollow and without much to say.

Best: Dream Home Cousins

"Dream Home Cousins" is an obvious parody of HGTV-style home renovation shows, complete with two host characters clearly spoofing the Property Brothers, but it pivots quickly. The sketch rushes right past the viewer's expectation and becomes an intricately-produced, special effects-laden, puppetry-heavy vehicle for Kate McKinnon's Bea, a vindictive and truly strange elderly woman with a seething hatred for her daughter-in-law. 

The Dream Home Cousins (Mikey Day and host Jake Gyllenhaal) keep pulling the rug out from under the poor young woman in question (Heidi Gardner). She knows exactly what she wants her house to look and feel like, but her plans keep getting ruined by Bea, the proud owner of a twenty-something cat named Charles-David (played by a puppet) who requires many expensive and space-consuming machines to stay alive. Bea hates her daughter-in-law, whom she derisively calls "Skinny Minnie," and she makes a number of absurd demands of the Dream Home Cousins, like getting rid of all bathroom windows to keep out perverts who want to watch her "make dirt." McKinnon is her usual hilarious self, and the absurdity of the scenario only grows as the jokes keep coming.

Worst: Trivia Game Show

Lizzo does a lot of things exceptionally well — singing, writing music, playing the flute, commanding the attention of an audience — but live sketch comedy threw the superstar for a bit of a loop when she hosted "Saturday Night Live" in 2022. She "broke" character and composure often throughout the evening, both in the weird, silly, and wonderful sketches and in the messier ones. The star's excited energy in the sketches is contagious and entertaining in its own right, but it couldn't save the generically-titled "Trivia Game Show." 

Yet another "SNL" game show parody about a dumb and obnoxious contestant, this one just isn't that charming. Lizzo plays Nicole, a rude woman who refuses to admit she's wrong about the first question of the round and continues to return to it. She completely ignores the rules of the game as she tries to negotiate her way to a prize. There's nothing wrong with breaking down and sending up the conventions of a game show, but Nicole is just very off-putting and reminiscent of real-life pests. She keeps insisting that JFK Airport is called Robert Kennedy Airport, simply because she can't admit she's wrong. The whole thing comes off as an uncomfortable drag without a lot of genuine laughs.

Best: Mattress Store

Chain mattress stores exist so that people can test out an expensive mattress before they plunk down the cash — to make sure that it's not too hard or too soft. But it's not like a test drive of a car. You can't really get a realistic feel for a bed — the location for any number of intimate activities — in the middle of some showroom while it's completely unadorned. The idea of really testing out a mattress is taken to both logical and absurd heights in "Mattress Store," a sketch from a 2021 "Saturday Night Live" episode hosted by Rami Malek. 

Aidy Bryant and Malek play a couple on the hunt for a new mattress. While testing the firmness, they run through a number of bed scenarios, all of which play like scenes from an overwrought stage play about a marriage on the decline. For example, the husband sneaks into bed late at night and awakens his wife, who declares that he reeks of alcohol and women. There's a post-dinner party confrontation, a rejection of marital intimacy, and an instance of being awakened in the middle of the night by an intruder and shooting him with a gun. It's all pulled off to great effect by Malek and Bryant, who find the hilarity in the melodrama.