The Worst SNL Sketches of All Time: Part 2 - Runners Up

I apologize for not getting this posted before tonight; real-world commitments and a few other changes related to the future of my blog take precedence over these posts. I admit that I have also been pretty burned out on the show for a little while, which may be another factor in why I've put off work on this list. Unlike the winners for "worst recurring sketch", many of these sketches have not been posted online; some likely due to music licensing issues.

Third Runner Up

  • Rookie Cop - SNL had already aired a few sketches centered around people vomiting before, notably 1980's Roman Vomitorium and 1993's Bad Taste Sketches, but both prior examples wrote sketches around the vomiting.  This time, vomiting is the sketch, as it systematically gives every cast member and featured player (aside from Al Franken) a chance to spew out incredibly watery-looking puke.
  • Hot Plates - A one-joke premise where, despite the waiters' warnings, diners touch the hot plates at a restaurant.  The whole thing is done too cartoonishly broad: as if having Horatio Sanz and Rob Riggle screaming "HOT PLATES!" didn't seem like enough cover for a weak premise, the gags involving Hilary Swank's hand fusing to a plate and Amy Poehler turning into a skeleton from just looking at her plate felt desperate.
  • Van Morrison Concert - Much of the distaste towards this otherwise weak sketch about a woman's obnoxious dancing blocking the other patrons' view of a concert is because Melanie Hutsell plays the dancing woman, and adds an extra layer of obnoxiousness to the character with her facial expressions.  One voter says "It's a pretty bad sketch but she makes it unwatchable".  Whether the antipathy towards Hutsell on SNL is deserved or not, many still consider her a sketch-ruiner.

Second Runner Up

  • St. Kat's Middle - Another one-joke premise, where middle school kids take their teachers' lessons on positive thinking to heart and try to apply them to their friend with a broken knee (Kenan Thompson).  The audience could tell where this was going to go before the first fall, but what makes this one excruciating is the extended sequences involving Thompson's character's face in close-up, delivering agonized damnation of his friends in such an overwrought manner that it's plausible that someone just told Thompson to stretch out the sketch and milk it for all it was worth.
  • Sunken Submarine - The worst thing to make it to air while Dick Ebersol ran the show: a ten-minute-plus sketch that plays to light chuckles at the very most; it's like they built the set first and only then decided to write a sketch around it.  So much of this sketch is a succession of attempted gags that just fail: Robert Culp eating oatmeal without a spoon while wearing a dress and gloves is a perfect metaphor for the pointlessness of the whole thing.

First Runner Up

  • Jack The Stripper - In their 1986 book Saturday Night, Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad mention that some considered this sketch about women on the streets of London being terrorized by a stripping heir to the throne of England "the most disastrous sketch ever on the show".  Even the lighting contributes to the sketch's problems, as this sketch is so dark, foggy and murky looking that the cast might as well have performed it in shadow.  Better lighting still wouldn't have fixed this sketch's aimlessness.
  • Miracles Of Science - The Tom Arnold show from 1996 was an unusually bad show right in the middle of SNL's last major comeback year, and this sketch (which originally aired in the plum post-Weekend Update slot) is as unfunny as anything the show churned out during its low points.  Arnold plays a janitor who, following a nuclear accident, had his brain size, arrogance and physical pain grow instead of his intelligence, and new player Will Ferrell interviews him.  I wonder how much the sketch would have improved if the casting was reversed, but as a whole, this sketch dies early and hard, and both Arnold and Ferrell seem to know it.
  • Rear Window - It's bad enough this sketch is little more than Grace Kelly farting; what's worse is that it feels like the writer thought that if the audience wouldn't laugh, it's because there weren't enough fart sound effects.  Even still, what brought an already terrible sketch to new depths of awfulness was host January Jones (easily the worst host the show's had in recent years) and her inability to finish the sketch without giggling.  One voter's comment said it best: "Jones gave a dreadful performance and actually ruined a sketch about the film 'Rear Window' that revolved around a fart joke. Think about that for a second."