The Top Ten Best SNL Cold Opens

The Top Ten Best SNL Cold Opens

A definitive ranking of the best openings the show has ever had.

Well, everyone, it’s 2017 and our president-elect shows no signs of calling for a truce in his war with Saturday Night Live. Despite the fact that Donald Trump hosted last season, he has now proclaimed the show overrated and unfunny. Whether or not he’s correct in that assessment is another matter entirely, but no matter the answer, the fact remains that SNL is a popular culture staple and it is here to stay. Since 1975, Saturday Night Live has been poking fun and politicians and common folk alike, often times pervading our culture so deeply we forget what’s SNL and what’s real life. One of the greatest and most enduring aspects of the show is its cold open, which always comes out of the gate with uproarious antics and quotable lines. As a self-proclaimed SNL expert, I thought it would be appropriate to compile a list of the greatest SNL cold opens of all time:

10. Silent Film (Art Garfunkel, season three)

A classic spoof of the silent film genre featuring John Belushi, Danny Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Gilda Radner, this cold open is simple but genius. With a Weekend at Bernie’s trope and a surprising twist, this sketch is guaranteed to make you chuckle. Interestingly, this may be the only SNL episode to ever start without someone screaming, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!” since true to the silent film theme, Gilda only mouths these words.

9. I Can’t Make You Love Me (Melissa McCarthy, season forty-one)

An ensemble piece with a true theme that ended up being more true than anyone anticipated, this sketch made me actually laugh out loud the first time I saw it. A group of millennial friends each confide that they are secretly planning to vote for Bernie Sanders while Hillary serenades them nearby with Bill accompanying her on piano. The surprise appearance of Jeb Bush just makes it even better, and extra points for the inclusion of the “Bernie’s an outsider who’s only been in congress for like thirty years!” line.

8. Bush v Gore (Rob Lowe, season twenty-six)

One word: strategery. This is the sketch that forever cemented Will Ferrell’s George W. Bush in the hearts and minds of most Americans. It’s a sad fact that most people probably remember this sketch better than the actual presidential debates of the 2000 election. Oh, well… They were entertaining and extremely smart gems of comedy.

7. 2016 Democratic Debate (Tracy Morgan, season forty-one)

Season forty-one had some great cold opens thanks to Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider. This particular outing featured Alec Baldwin as his best ever political impression, Jim Webb. It also marked the debut of Larry David’s Bernie Sanders, which was perhaps the brightest spot in the election coverage.

6. Bush Twins (Paul Giamatti, season thirty)

While Will Ferrell is the most beloved W. impersonator, I have a major soft spot for Will Forte’s incarnation of the president. The stars of this cold open, however, are undoubtedly Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, with both Forte and Darrell Hammond’s amazingly terrifying Dick Cheney as background players. The idea that the Bush twins communicated with a secret language by just adding the letter “b” to everything is an easy type of funny that just works. Seeing the twins’ early 2000s posters adorning the walls of the White House is a nice touch, and “B-live b-from b-New b-York!” was hilarious to hear.

5. Gilda Fielding Audience Questions (O.J. Simpson, season three)

Season three was just a winning year for the show in every way. The premise of this cold open was that Gilda would walk out on stage and answer questions written by the audience off the top of her head. But then every question is posed by a “Kevin,” and Kevin is obviously the writers of the show. It’s an easy joke, but with Gilda’s sincerity and the wit of the writers, it works splendidly.

4. Sarah Palin and Katie Couric (Anna Faris, season thirty-four)

No SNL listicle is complete without some mention of Tina Fey as Sarah Palin. Though not the first use of that impression or the sketch that gave us “I can see Russia from my house,” this is the best Fey/Palin cold open. There’s just something especially rewarding about watching an eight-and-a-half-month-pregnant Amy Poehler blink incredulously at Fey’s zany antics. The real Katie Couric won numerous awards for conducting this interview, while SNL swayed an election by using the actual transcript as punchlines in this sketch.

3. John Promoted Through NBC Ranks (Christopher Lee, season three)

I’ll always have a place in my heart for SNL cold opens within which the cast members play themselves. In the early days, many shows started with the cast in a locker room getting ready for the show. In this particular cold open, Gilda is informing Billy about John’s new promotion, claiming that every time someone in NBC gets promoted, everyone else moves up a rung as well. Since Tom Brokaw moved up, everyone else would follow suit, meaning John would be leaving for Hollywood since he was the highest ranking SNL cast member, and he would be becoming the new Grizzly Adams. John enters the locker room and Bill tries to congratulate him, but John assures him that the bear has final approval before his promotion is legitimate. John then goes on to comment on how he’ll miss everyone, though he hilariously forgets Jane in his list and Gilda must remind him. Since it could be his last show, John says he’ll miss saying “Live from New York…” and he fumbles the line in the most funny way possible. To this day I still cannot tell if it was an intentional flub or if Belushi just misread the line, but live TV is live for a reason, and now his gaffe is forever.

2. Steve and Gilda (Steve Martin, season two)

Yet another extremely simple premise with a hilarious execution, this cold open features the host of the episode, the incomparably funny Steve Martin. Gilda approaches Steve’s dressing room intent on asking him why he never called her after their date the last time he hosted the show, to which Steve replies that she knew what lifestyle he led before getting involved with him. Watching Steve Martin trying to play it cool is funny enough, but watching the guys of the cast fall into the roles of protective big brothers ready to defend Gilda’s honor takes this sketch to an entirely new level. It’s classic SNL, and it’s a beautiful thing.

1. Phasing Gilda Out (Jodie Foster, season two)

Without a doubt, my all-time favorite SNL cold open is this masterpiece from season two. Often in the early days, scrawling words that were unbeknownst to the players would accompany their acting and add humor to otherwise drab or unfunny pieces. This piece was funny on its own merits, with Gilda lamenting the fact that there isn’t much for her to do in that particular broadcast, but the subtitles which inform the viewer that Gilda is in fact getting phased out of the cast add another dimension to the humor. The dramatic irony is made even better by smaller jokes within the sketch, like the band starting to play the credits when Gilda says, “They told me I could come out here and say, ‘Live from New York…’” and then of course she yells at everyone to stop. She informs her mother that she can go on to bed since she won’t be in the episode much, grounding the sketch in reality just the right amount. Her bitterness is infectiously hysterical when she takes a jab at Jane for getting so much screen time thanks to Update (“Sure… Anyone can read.”), and her joy is apparent when she finally gets to scream the real intro. This cold open can’t be beat.

Cover Image Credit: NBC Studios

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Iced Earth: 'Burnt Offerings' Album Review

'Burnt Offerings' is Iced Earth’s magnum opus thanks to its impressive musicianship and brilliant songwriting


Jon Schaffer - Rhythm Guitar / Vocals

Randall Shawver - Lead Guitar

Matthew Barlow - Lead Vocals

Dave Abell - Bass Guitar

Rodney Beasley - Drums

Additional info:

Recorded at Morrisound Studios, Tampa, Florida.

Produced by Jon Schaffer and Tom Morris.

Year: 1995

Album Length: 52:39

Genre: Thrash Metal, Power Metal

Label: Century Media


Burnt Offerings is the third album by American power metal band Iced Earth. After a three year hiatus, Iced Earth comes back in full force. Iced Earth decided to adjust their lineup for the third time. Lead vocalist John Greely has been replaced by the legendary Matt Barlow and drummer Rick Secchiari has been replaced by Rodney Beasley. This makes the third vocalist and drummer in three albums for the band. These changes would prove to be the most important in the band's decision because it gave way for Matt Barlow to add his incredible vocal range on this record.

The Good:

Schaffer takes his songwriting to a whole new level on this record. Iced Earth had gone through some difficulties over the past 3 years, regarding differences with their label and between some band members which resulted in the angriest, the darkest and the heaviest songs that Schaffer has ever composed. Schaffer still maintains the beautiful acoustic sections and melody within the music though demonstrating his composing abilities further.

Matt Barlow is one of the best metal vocalists of all time. He immediately gave Iced Earth power, emotion, range, and variation that many vocalists can only dream of having. His voice added a new dimension to Iced Earth that took them from being a good band to an incredible one.

This is definitely the heaviest album in Iced Earth's discography. Burnt Offerings is a thrash metal album with some power metal tendencies. The amount of speed and aggression on this record is simply unmatched by other Iced Earth records.

The Bad:

There are no major weaknesses with this record.

Favorite Tracks:

Track 1: Burnt Offerings

I love the dark atmosphere of the track. It really sets the mood of the entire record. It begins with a slow and eerie opening, but soon completely changes tempo to a very thrash oriented sound. The vocals immediately stand out from previous albums with lower growl-like vocals and Barlow's powerful vocals. The riffs are fast paced when they need to be and slower during the more melodic parts. The track also utilizes acoustic passages to balance between the band's heaviness and melodious sound. The guitar solo is a welcome addition that only adds to an already brilliant opener.

Track 3: Diary

I love the heavy opening with its slow chugging guitar. It sets the dark tone of the entire track. The atmospheric element of this album is really what helps it stand out from other albums within the genre and there is no shortage of atmosphere on this track. I love the drumming on this track as well. Barlow's vocals are absolutely fantastic thanks to his utilization of different styles of vocals delivery. "Diary" is another standout from this fantastic record.

Track 6: Creator Failure

Barlow's voice is fantastic thanks to the power behind his brilliant delivery. The track changes pace and tone throughout its run-time. I love many of the different riffs that are utilized during the track as well as the fantastic guitar solos within the song. The song has such a fantastic mix of emotions between somber emotion and darker moods within its different sections. This is certainly one of Iced Earth's most unique tracks that they have ever written.

Track 8: Dante’s Inferno

"Dante's Inferno" is the band's most well-written song that they have ever composed. The song takes us through the Nine Planes of Hell for sixteen minutes, each plane has something new and demonic in store for the listener. Not only does this track contain terrific lyricism, it also contains an immense amount of well-written music. The song has a very unique song structure, contains many time changes, and has twists and turns at every corner. Schaffer proved that he is one of the greatest songwriters in metal history thanks to this terrific masterpiece. This is still the band's greatest composition to this day.

Rating Scale:

1: Garbage

1.5: Awful

2: Bad

2.5: Mixed

3: Decent

3.5: Good

4: Great

4.5: Excellent

5: Perfect


Burnt Offerings displays a large amount of heaviness, power, and emotion that many metal albums would be hard-pressed to achieve. The songwriting is as good as it gets in both the thrash and power metal genres and the performances from the members of the band are spectacular. Burnt Offerings is a true masterpiece that is basically perfect from beginning to end.


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13 Times 'Parks And Recreation' Accurately Described College Life

"I have no idea what I'm doing." - Andy (and probably many college students)

College is the time in everyone's life where you are partially an adult but not quite yet and each semester has it's same old ups and downs with lots of group suffering. From the dreaded finals to the excitement of breaks, here are just a few moments that almost happens every semester with a "Parks and Rec" GIF to illustrate.

1. Returning back to school

There's always excitement about going back to school and seeing friends again.

2. Figuring out your life

It seems like every semester, you have to really decide what you are planning to do in life. From your schedule and your major, to future job goals and internships, the beginning of the semester is when you start to plan what your next few months up to the next few years will be.

3. Partying

It's the start of the semester so the parties are starting up once again. As there are no tests and homework to worry about too much yet, you can party without realizing you forgot about a homework assignment.

4. First exam

Realizing that you didn't study as much as you should have is never a fond time and you remember that you have responsibilities again.

5. Trying to do homework

This is what getting that specific word count for that essay you really don't want to write feels like.

6. Midterms

So much stress.

7. Break (Thanksgiving or spring)

Going home is great because either you eat good home cooked meals or you go on a vacation but no matter what you get to relax. As long as you forget all about your upcoming assignments.

8. Returning from break


9. Group project

It always feels like one person does all of the work. And that person is probably you.

10. Procrastinating

Doing anything else is better than studying. Especially watching Netflix. You accomplish so much by procrastinating.

11. Questioning everything

Do you really want to major in Chemistry or do you want to quit college and become a flight attendant?

12. The beginning of finals week

The end is so close yet it feels so far away.

13. Completing your last final


Cover Image Credit: @parksandrecs

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