Star Trek: 7 Stellar Comedy Sketches -- and 4 Terrible Ones
Long before the bombastic William Shatner became a parody himself, sketch comedy shows couldn’t get enough of spoofing his Star Trek. Let’s boldly go where plenty of late-night shows have gone before, to explore the strange world of Star Trek send-ups, to seek out new laughs and half-assed impressions, and to find at least a few examples of places no sketch should ever go again.
Star Trek: The Last VoyageThe granddaddy of them all. Plenty of hack comics do a Shatner now, but had anyone tried a James T. Kirk before Belushi pulled it off in 1976?
Writer Michael O’Donoghue spews his satiric acid all over this one, with an oily NBC executive as the Enterprise’s most deadly foe. Belushi reportedly struggled with the impersonation during a week of rehearsals but nailed it on the air show, “one of the acting roles of which John was most proud,” according to Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live.
Star Trek: The Wrath of FarrakhanThe In Living Color crew brings a very In Living Color vibe to this ridiculous sketch.
The conceit is simple -- Kirk’s arch-nemesis Khan is replaced by the hilarious Damon Wayans as Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan. The sketch works a lot of laughs out of its one-joke concept (for a supposedly enlightened show, why does Roddenberry have the white guy running everything?), with extra-funny performances by Jim Carrey as an elastic Kirk and David Alan Grier as a militant Mr. Spock.
Love Boat: The Next GenerationThe best part of this SNL Star Trek parody (besides getting to see the Next Generation gang get the lampoon treatment for once) is the absolute glee with which Sir Patrick Stewart plays this Captain Stubing/Captain Picard hybrid
The sketch is somewhat long but fun nostalgic cameos and celebrity goofs make it an amusing comedy hang. Come for the Charo, stay for the “Geordi LaForge as Your Ship's Bartender.” And Chris Farley as a linebacker version of Number One? Inspired!
Check Please!Leave it to the Canuck comedians of SCTV to find a completely nonobvious way to spoof Star Trek – a side-character spinoff set in a greasy spoon.
That’s Harold Ramis as Spock, in a long-eared precursor to his Egon character in Ghostbusters. Dave Thomas delivers the goods as fry cook Bones McCoy. It’s another one-joke premise, but count on SCTV to know how to deliver a laugh and then end the damn thing before it wears out its welcome.
SpockoMan, SNL -- how many times are you going to go the Star Trek well? (According to one fan site, the answer is “12.”) With 21st Century Kirk Chris Pine as guest host, it makes sense. It shouldn't work, but Bobby Moynihan as Spock’s brother Spocko puts the hysterics over the top. “Now that's a Star Trek!”
The sketch is worth noting for yet another Sulu performance by longtime SNL production designer Akira Yushimura. Here he is in the 2017 Spocko sketch:
And again, 40 freaking years earlier, in the Last Voyage sketch:
Yushimura filled in as Sulu for additional sketches in 1986 and 1994, which is to say, until Bowen Yang showed up, a production designer was forced into duty when the show needed an Asian character. Let's hope Akira gets residuals.
A gaggle of Robot Chickens
The throw-a-million-jokes-against-the-wall approach works once again! If you don’t want to watch ‘em all, at least stick it out through Two Kirks, A Khan, and a Pizza Place.
Get A LifeNot all of Bill Shatner’s Star Trek sketches on Saturday Night Live are winners (see below), but you can’t argue with this gem. Bill stars as himself at a 1980s Trekkie convention, finally having enough nerd antics and admonishing his fans to get a life. “You've taken what I did as an enjoyable lark and turned it into a colossal waste of time!”
Even though Shatner doesn't grok fandom, this is likely one of network TV's first celebrations of Nerd Culture. Whether Jon Lovitz has kissed a girl is still up for debate.
Those seven Star Trek sketches set our comedy phasers to supremely silly -- but there are plenty of others that land on “sleepy” or “stupid.” Raise your deflector shields – here are four of the worst.
Star SchtickCanada’s Wayne & Schuster star in a
Neither Wayne nor Schuster bothers with an impression here. Their Captain Quirk and Mister Spoof (groan) trade vaudevillian one-liners to the score of a hokey laugh track. One might consider it old-timey fun, but with a running time of more than half an hour, this one should have been swallowed by a black hole.
Star Trek ParodyWe’ll assume the name of the sketch isn’t actually “Star Trek Parody,” but it serves to illustrate just how uninspired this bit is.
The gag here is that Carol Burnett (in the deservedly forgotten 90s revival Carol & Company) is the chief of an all-lady Star Trek crew. You know that it’s all ladies because 1) they all have comically large boobs and 2) Dr. McCoy has a roast in the oven, you know, like ladies do. Fast forward.
Star Trek V: The Restaurant EnterpriseThe scarcity of laughs from the SNL studio audience tells you everything you need to know.
Shatner hosts again, this time making sure the Enterprise’s dinner guests are served their lobster salads. Only the reliable Phil Hartman as an apoplectic Bones McCoy saves the sketch from being completely unwatchable.
The Frasier/Star Trek: Voyager crossoverRemember when everyone was clamoring for the mash-up between the fussy comedy of manners and the fourth-best Star Trek spinoff ever? Yeah, we don't either.
This weird piece of space trash was part of the Star Trek: 30 Years and Beyond special, a crossover with Frasier notable for its conspicuous lack of Frasier. It makes no sense other than to imagine that these two shows were popular in 1996 so why not throw them in a blender and see what happens? Beam us up, please.
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Top image: Broadway Video