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Just three episodes in, the ongoing 45th season of Saturday Night Live has already proven itself a late-decade contender for the funniest season of the 2010s. Guest spots from comedy icons including Maya Rudolph and Phoebe-Waller Bridge have gone quite a distance in elevating the new season’s sketches, which have been especially rife with political and cultural commentary of late, beyond national audiences’ already-high expectations. Below, find a chronological list of the four funniest SNL sketches so far this season.
“DNC Town Hall” (Episode 1)
In this highlight of the SNL season 45 premiere, Larry David reprises his long-beloved role as U.S. senator and leading presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Although audiences reacted ecstatically to David’s return to the show, his Sanders impression wasn’t the sketch’s wildest. That honor would go to SNL vet Maya Rudolph, appearing as an unannounced guest star and impersonating fellow leading candidate Kamala Harris. Rudolph transformed Harris into an eternally-vacationing, constantly-advertising celebrity in a way that made not just audiences laugh, but the real-life Harris too.
“Weekend Update: Chen Biao on US-China Trade War” (Episode 2)
New SNL cast member Bowen Yang, who worked on the show as a writer for a year before his promotion to the main stage, has shined brightly in his early sketches. In addition to his brief appearance as presidential candidate Andrew Yang in the “DNC Town Hall” sketch (in which fellow new castmate Chloe Fineman did her best Marianne Williamson), Yang had viewers across the country laughing at outlandish Chinese government official Chen Biao in this “Weekend Update” sketch.
“Love Island” (Episode 2)
Fresh off her several 2019 Emmy wins, Phoebe Waller-Bridge hosted SNL and delivered not just an unforgettable monologue, but a hilarious turn as a Love Island character. Alongside SNL vets including Aidy Bryant (herself one of the first faces seen in the decade’s funniest SNL skit), Waller-Bridge nailed the quirks of the real Love Island’s characters perfectly. Leave it to the creator of two darkly comic TV shows to make the unsettling and fake seem ordinary and real.
“SoulCycle” (Episode 3)
In the SNL episode for which Stranger Things’ David Harbour served as host, the writing team skewered a cultural mainstay that few people really understand despite its omnipotence. Harbour, Bowen Yang, Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon, and Heidi Gardner all took turns playing eccentric SoulCycle instructors whom two class members (Mikey Day and Ego Nwodim) just can’t wrap their heads around. As with the Love Island sketch, this fake scenario scanned as far too real in the hands of SNL’s talented cast and guests.
What else is coming up this season?
On October 26, Chance the Rapper will serve as both musical guest and host for the fourth episode of SNL’s 45th season. Kristen Stewart will host the show on November 2, and Eddie Murphy will host on December 21. It is not yet clear how many episodes will air between the Stewart and Murphy episodes, nor is it clear who will accompany these hosts as musical guests. More is expected to be revealed in the coming weeks.