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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20 Quotes to Live By

Words of wisdom for your enjoyment
  1. “When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind” . – R.J. Palacio
  2. “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it” . – Charles R. Swindoll
  3. “ A day without laughter is a day wasted” . – Charlie Chaplin
  4. “The future depends on what we do in the present”. – Mahatma Gandhi
  5. “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” – JFK
  6. “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” – Maya Angelou
  7. “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walter Elias Disney
  8. “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, but learning to dance in the rain.” – Unknown
  9. “A true test of character isn’t how you act on your best days, but how you act on your worst days.” – Unknown
  10. “Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” – Joshua J. Marine
  11. “Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or… you can learn from it.” – Rafiki, Lion King
  12. “ If watchin’ is all you’re gonna do,-- then you’re gonna watch—your life go by without ya.” – Laverne, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  13. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. “ – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  14. “Spend a little more time trying to make something of yourself and a little less time trying to impress people.” – The Breakfast Club
  15. “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” – Forrest Gump
  16. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” – Dr. Seuess
  17. “ Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss
  18. “Two things define us. Our patience when we have nothing and our attitude when we have everything.” – Unknown
  19. “Sometimes in life, your situation will keep repeating itself until you learn your lesson.” – Unknown
  20. “5 by 5 rule. If it’s not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes being upset about it.” – Unknown

Cover Image Credit: Study Breaks Magazine

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Best 10 DIY Wedding Decor Ideas

Wedding Decor Ideas

 Weddings have become a serious expense even if one hopes to have an inexpensive simple day of love and celebration …on a budget.  Food, décor, attire, photography, venue hire, retinue expenses all adds up and as one always intend to marry well and just once, savings is an imperative in an ever expensive world.

Location and décor

Wedding decorations on a budget is possible regardless of how impossible it may sound at the time. You just have to be tenacious and smart together with patient and exploratory, in advance, when considering your wedding and budget. Look at venue alternatives that can be as naturally ambient and without weather risk. Venue hires have become incredibly costly so look at garden, beach and forest options. When considering your dress, look at an emerging designer who is looking for a good break and exposure with advertising than a fancy established brand. Often, designers deliver a high grade finished dress as they aim to mostly impress. 

Natural is beautiful and innovative approaches to partners are certainly possible

Wedding decorations on a budget can extend into flowers, entertainment and even into food. If you are an exploratory person, engage the likes of emerging artists, contemporary books and expertise to make your day come alive beautifully. Natural pickings of flowers from a garden can be well planned and planted or if in season, picked from nature and sourced for the table centerpieces wedding bouquets and even hair accessories. Innovation around décor can extend into using origami paper folds into beautiful design to place on tables, suspended from the ceiling and which can even include a note or poem. Trade exchanges for food may be a bit harder but if you offer to promote free via your organization or website, discounts can apply. For a dessert menu, we all have aunts that have a recipe of a sweet treat that can be called on each to supply one for a tea table. This takes out of the budget. Home brews of lemonade can make for a soft drink instead of a purchase and the main meal, starter and wines can be a bit more “invested” into for the day. Entertainment is no different in the negotiation process. You can call on emerging musicians and photographers to capture the day for a fraction of the costs.

Presence and Presents

Try have your guests contribute towards the wedding decorations on a budget for the day as a gesture. This beats getting a gift like a toaster for a gift which you may not want. You can always communicate it as “add beauty to our beautiful day” and have a family at a table bring a flower setting for the table and / or a bottle of wine. You can give them guidelines on color and and theme and have a family arrange a flower piece as they like. Then compliment with a closing evening of what each flower bouquet from each contributor symbolized for you, the bridal couple.

Wedding decorations on a budget can be fun. Just make sure speeches and thank you are not after too much of bubbly. Have fun, you only marry once…ideally!


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