On air since 1975, Saturday Night Live is one of the longest-running comedy sketch show on television! And across its 48 seasons, its longest-running and the most popular returning sketch is the Weekend Update, in which one or two comedians provide quick, real news headlines paired with hilarious jokes. It’s a format guaranteed to get a laugh, as it’s snappy and topical.
Viewers love to hear jokes about current events, as a little bit of humor can soften the blows given by tumultuous news stories. Then, in the later seasons, the SNL cast would mix things up with guest stars to provide more in-depth commentary on topics that deserved a little more time, like Pete Davidson, Bill Hader, Jennifer Aniston, and even Nicholas Cage.
Here’s a list of the ten most beloved moments from SNL’s Weekend Update as found on YouTube.
10 Adam Sandler on Hanukkah
Our first entry takes us back to the mid-1990s when Norm Macdonald was still on the show. In this clip, we get to enjoy comedian Adam Sandler as he tells us how he felt left out as a Jewish kid because there were so many Christmas songs and so few Hannukah songs.
In response, Sandler wrote a catchy new Hannukah song that lists many well-known people whose Jewish heritage is not as well known. Yeah, it’s a goofy song, but it must have been at least a little uplifting to hear for all the Jewish kids who feel the way Sandler felt.
I enjoy the clever rhymes he comes up with, like “Scrooge is” with “Stooges.” And, of course, we all love when Sandler sings to us.
9 Will Smith and Chris Rock Slap Attack
In ninth place is the most topical of topics—a recap of the infamous slap at the 2022 Oscars! During this week’s Weekend Update, the sketch starts in the usual way, with normal (if not scary) headlines. But then, boom—the punchline directed toward Will Smith’s behavior at the Oscars, and suddenly, most of the sketch is a roast of that strange and wild moment. (Even we could not stop talking about it!)
The newscasters return to normal(ish) headlines toward the end, with my favorite joke being about a certain politician and his claim that he was invited to a coke-fueled orgy.
8 Get in the Cage with Nicolas Cage and Nicolas Cage
Featuring Nicolas Cage and Nicolas Cage (Actually, I think that might be Andy Samberg in a bald cap), they join Seth Meyers to break the news that there are two of them now. Apparently, ol’ Nick couldn’t keep up with his goal to appear in every movie ever made, so he cloned himself to mitigate the work. But… which one’s the clone?
My favorite bit is how the original Cage (I think?) subtly criticizes his clone’s terrible impression of him and how the clone looks genuinely hurt by those words. In retaliation, the clone flatters Nick with flowery and slightly backhanded compliments, like the way he describes his “Eyes that sparkle and pierce the hearts of women both old and middle-aged alike.”
7 Pete Davidson and John Mulaney Review Clint Eastwood’s The Mule
Coming in seventh place, this clip features my personal favorite comedian, John Mulaney! He joins Pete Davidson, excited to bring their new shared fixation to the program. Their descriptions of what they must look like as they hang out (a crazy man and his lawyer or a basketball coach and his most wayward trainee) are spot on.
Anyway, the way they describe the insanity of this film they were so enamored to watch, The Mule, has convinced me to put it on my must-watch list.
Mulaney tells us it’s “a superhero film for old people.” The ultimate power fantasy for nonagenarians? And reportedly, Clint Eastwood wrote and directed himself into two sex scenes. I have to know what the rest of this crazy movie about the world’s oldest drug smuggler looks like. Don’t you?
6 Pete Davidson on Staten Island
In sixth place, Pete Davidson and Colin Jost share the same hometown of Staten Island—but apparently, they treat Davidson differently there. For that reason, he lets us know how he really feels about the place, such as whether or not a hurricane should destroy it, and the comparisons to Jost add to the fun.
“You represent what they could be,” Davidson says to Jost, “you know, the kid who got out… I represent what they are—you know, a mentally ill college dropout who got a Game of Thrones tattoo before watching the show.” To Davidson’s credit, he’s right—dire wolves look pretty dope, even in tattoo form!
5 Colin Jost and Michael Che Switch Jokes
This clip doesn’t feature any special guests or unique bits—just classic headlines of the biggest news stories paired with jokes. But there’s still a twist!
To close out the season (like they have been for all the recent seasons), Colin Jost and Michael Che give each other the gift of jokes—that is, they get to roast each other by forcing them to read jokes they haven’t rehearsed, all on live television!
With each jab, they can make each other look really bad, to hilarious results! I love how Jost reacts to the graphic for one of his stories—he knows it will be racist. Don’t ask me why their clothes are wet, though. I couldn’t tell ya.
4 Pete Davidson on Kanye West
Ooh, this one probably aged well.
SNL opens with a bit of deliberation as to why they went with Pete Davidson for this bit instead of Michael Che. “‘Cause Che’s black, but like, I’m crazy,” Davidson explains, “and we both know which side of Kanye’s at the wheel right now!” Can’t argue with that.
The funniest part is when they review the tape to see Davidson’s reaction to Kanye’s alarming speech from the prior week’s show. “‘ I want a career!’ So I leave.” The rest of the video is a brutal roast of Kanye’s behavior, with some nice self-deprecating jokes as well, and it’s a riot.
My favorite joke of the lot is when Davidson asks, “Can you imagine that that T-shirt was the second stupidest thing I was wearing?”
3 Stefon on Autumn’s Hottest Tips
To get New York City tourists ready for the summer, the hosts bring on Bill Hader as city correspondent Stefon, an unsettling man that knows the city’s hottest hangouts. The places he brings to the table have strange descriptions, like “the vibe and sight is strange yet familiar, like when you see billboards for Seinfeld reruns in a Puerto Rican neighborhood.”
These descriptions get so outlandish that they often make Hader break character. Good thing Stefon’s always hiding his face behind his hands. Stefon is also brazenly open with his sexuality, which leads to some uncomfortable hosts and great laughs for the audience and Stefon alike.
2 Rachel from Friends on ’90s Nostalgia
People love this clip for Vanessa Bayer’s fantastic impression of Jennifer Aniston’s character, Rachel, from Friends. Her “uhs” and “ohs” really sell the character for me. Then amid her stammering, the REAL Rachel shows up to put Vanessa in her place.
Then things get meta as Aniston makes an impression of Bayer’s impression of Rachel, and Bayer responds by continuing the chain, and it all goes off the rails. The best bit is when Aniston sighs in defeat as she realizes… she does sound like that.
1 Rebecca Larue, the Flirting Expert
And finally, in first place is the sketch with Rebecca Larue, played by Kristen Wiig, who immediately demonstrates the expertise for which she was brought into the studio—no tips, all action. The best part is the video’s thumbnail—when she spreads her legs wide open and scoots toward Seth Meyers to leave absolutely no room for doubt.
My favorite part is when she breaks down and cries to garner sympathy after Meyers continually denies her advances—then goes right back to that giddy, high-school girl persona. There were moments when I truly thought this character was romantically interested in Meyers!
+ Honorable Mention: The Late Great Norm Macdonald
Before Jost and Che, Seth Meyers, and even Tina Fey, Norm Macdonald was probably the best host that Weekend Update has ever had. Even Chevy Chase has said he’s “the only other guy who did the segment funny.” His timing and delivery were impeccable, and he rarely, if ever, lost composure—almost to the point that the jokes were just as much part of the news as the news!
Macdonald’s favorite thing to do as host was to include jabs at O. J. Simpson as often as possible, even for stories that had nothing to do with that chapter of American crime history. I think my favorite moment of this compilation is at the 6:22 mark, where the audience is never sure if the jokes are sexist or not. “Now you don’t know what the hell to do, do ya?”