Best Non-Weekend Update ‘SNL’ Sketches from Weekend Update Anchors
In SNL’s nearly 50-year history, some things have barely changed, like the host monologue, the musical guests and the good ol’ Weekend Update. For a few cast members, Update is the main item on their job description but even the most anchor-y anchor has at least a few sketches under their belt. Here’s our rundown of the best non-Update work for each era’s main news reader. (For this exercise, we’re leaving out killer sketch players like Amy Poehler, Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey and Jane Curtin since they’re already remembered more as comic actors than fake journalists.)
Iconic and still dangerous after all these years. Keegan-Michael Key, Don Cheadle and Albert Brooks all name “Word Association” among their favorite SNL sketches of all time. “Nobody had seen that kind of thing before they did it,” Brooks told Rolling Stone. “There was probably no whiter man working in those days than Chevy Chase, so it was a very good combination of people. It doesn’t happen very often, but when a comedy sketch takes on another dimension where you almost think someone’s gonna get punched – it’s just great.”
Meyers was more of a sketch player than you might remember, one-half of the Needlemans with Poehler and a horny Ron Weasley in Lindsay Lohan’s buxom Harry Potter sketch. But we’ll go with Buildin’ Finn McQuinn, if for nothing else than Meyers’ ability to hold his own against Liam Neeson.
Ask comedy nerds which Weekend Update anchor was their favorite and odds are you’ll hear “Norm” more often than not. But Macdonald was a fair celebrity impressionist as well, scoring with turns as David Letterman, Bob Dole, and most famously, Burt Reynolds. Excuse me, that’s Turd Ferguson.
In the first two decades of SNL, no cast member stayed more firmly rooted behind the fake news desk than Miller. But he’d venture out to diss a guy’s undersized penis if the situation warranted.
A true ensemble player, Nealon was a reliable Swiss Army knife. In addition to manning the anchor desk, Nealon could play the straight-man dad, goofy characters like Tarzan, Mr. Subliminal and Mr. No Depth Perception, and of course, one-half of the Austrian bodybuilding team Hans and Franz.
Unlike the Weekend Update anchors who came before them, Che and Jost have worked almost exclusively on the phony news. One exception for Che? Playing Steve Harvey’s joke-writing nephew Andre during a Family Feud sketch. A sample gag: “I came up with the bit on Little Big Shots where when a child says something, you stare at him for 20 seconds like he’s a ghost.”
Oh, Jost. You show up so seldomly that we think our favorite sketch bit of yours is when you clapped the slate for the Back to the Future auditions. No wonder Lorne Michaels put you behind the big desk.