The Worst SNL Sketches of All Time: My own nominations

I've come up with a list of my own choices for worst sketch of all time, which will be factored into the overall vote (which closes at 11pm ET tonight):

  • Commie Hunting Season - 11/22/1980 This easily makes my all-time worst list; many of the reasons have already been cited in my review of the Malcolm McDowell episodes, particularly that one line followed by the silence as if they were expecting to get a laugh. Knowing this was intended as a comment on the acquittal of a few Klansmen for their role in the Greensboro Massacre makes it that much worse, but there really isn't anything good about this sketch to begin with. Poorly lit, poorly scripted, poorly paced, poorly acted.
  • Sunken Submarine - 04/24/1982 Easily the worst thing on the show during the Dick Ebersol years: a bloated, pointless and unfunny mess that plays to mostly silence. By the time Neil Levy comes in pretending to be a dog, you just want the sketch to be over with.
  • The Limits Of The Imagination - 11/09/1985 The later live "Limits" sketches were better, but this one, while high in production values, seems to be more an excuse to show off the new SNL's film unit than anything worth the time in the show. The main joke is that it's "he's calling from inside the house" in a car. Lovitz's nasal whine as the maniac is only funny now that his voice is so recognizable.
  • Brace Steele: Greenpeace Photographer - 04/20/1991 The most irredeemable part of the already bad Steven Seagal episode: this sketch about a Zen nature photographer happening upon an Exxon conspiracy feels like something he pushed to get on the show, and it plays like they're indulging him.  Points deducted for one of the most cringe-inducing endings in an SNL sketch.
  • Disneyland Runner - 03/12/1994 The three Nancy Kerrigan at Disneyland segments really felt like the show was short on material and the writers were scrambling to use a host they knew to be a dud.
  • Fortune Cookie Factory - 11/12/1994 The transition point where the 1994-95 season goes from just bad to joyless. This is also the first in a string of consecutive episodes where Mike Myers plays an accented character while donnning yellowface or race makeup.
  • The ESPYS - 02/18/1995 Take a thin premise, a terrible host (even for a non-actor), a bunch of impressions by people who barely resemble or imitate their targets, repetition of the same gags that were barely funny to begin with (I'm looking at you, stock footage clip of Lou Diamond Philips), and pad it out to 10 minutes: you have this sketch.
  • Miracles Of Science - 02/17/1996 SNL was on the comeback in 1995-96, but this particular sketch with Will Ferrell playing straightman to Tom Arnold as Brainiac (complete with oversized prosthetic brain-head) is painful to watch. You can smell the flop-sweat in the studio.
  • Dr. Mrs. Frankenstein - 10/30/2004 One of many "the joke is he's gay" sketches that SNL has done in the last 15 years, with no real twist beyond that. Even more annoying is that this is one of the instances where Maya Rudolph plays a character in a period piece with an anachronistic "sassy black woman" voice.  I wouldn't be surprised if this was the handiwork of James Anderson, who is openly gay but behind so many sketches where homosexuality is the punchline.
  • Rear Window - 11/14/2009 Grace Kelly has gas. That's the sketch.

Worst recurring sketches:

  • Ching Chang/Ching Change One of the most racist things the show's done; this seems like it could have been written for a 1950s variety show.
  • Trina There are a lot of Wiig characters I've been tempted to add to the list (Surprise Sue, Gilly, Secret Word, Dooneese). This stands out.  As much as Gilly comes across as a cynical attempt by Paula Pell and Kristen Wiig to create a marketable character, it at least had a few funny portions (OK, just Casey Wilson's part in the first sketch). Trina is Kristen Wiig as a wacky mental defective saying "Thomas!" over and over.
  • Elinda Nade, Stenographer It was down to this and Regine, but where the latter is annoying and has enough telegraphing to keep Marconi busy, Elinda Nade is Fred Armisen trying to be Kristen Wiig. It's more aggravating when you realize what Armisen does well and compare it to this.
  • Garth and Kat Another Fred Armisen / Kristen Wiig bit; this just feels like an excuse to eat up as much airtime as possible while making something mainly for them, James Anderson and Kent Sublette to get songwriting royalties from whenever the show repeats.

Dishonorable mention:

  • Debbie Downer / The Californians Both are sketches that weren't much on paper, but through a fluke of corpsing, they ended up being more memorable and better than they should have been.  Of course, Lorne and the writers figure they might as well keep bringing both back, thereby tainting the originals.

It's sad how most of these nominees for worst recurring sketches feature Wiig and Armisen; maybe it's just because both are better performers than this dreck that even they can't save allow them to be.