SNL turned 40 in big style, with a stiff Robert DeNiro-led homage to its home city New York and lots of jokes about the gentrification of a once wild and woolly town with the obligatory emotional 9/11 footage of the show that aired after the country was still in shock over those horrific events, with NYPD and NYFD in the audience. Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon lead the opening with a stage full of musical luminaries. But this entire broadcast was uneven in pacing, with funny moments and some that missed the mark entirely.
“SNL” papa Lorne Michaels rounded up all the living cast members and guests for segments tat were considered classics. It was great to see Paul McCartney and Paul Simon, but the whole time I thought I spied Miley Cyrus over McCartney’s shoulder. Fear of a twerk moment pulled me out of theirs.
A skeletal-thin Keith Richards came out to intro Paul McCartney. Melissa McCarthy went drag to pay tribute to the late Chris Farley in a weird Weekend Update trio of Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Jane Curtain, who looks flat-out amazing. Maya Rudolph was pitch perfect as the wind enhanced Beyonce.
One of the better segments was Will Ferrell’s “Celebrity Jeopardy” with as usual, a horribly inappropriate Sean Connery. Alec Baldwin’s Tony Bennett was hilarious. Bill Murray giving the “Jaws” theme a Vegas over-the-top spin was amusing, and there was of course, Betty White to savor in the almost unintelligible The Californians skit, and jokes about her saucy ways were peppered through the show. Betty is like butter, she makes everything taste and seem better.
Below are best of clips and some looks at the massive undertaking:
Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake Cold Open
Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon kick off the SNL 40th anniversary special with a musical medley featuring catchphrases from the show’s 40-year history.
Steve Martin, Tom Hanks, Alec Baldwin, Melissa McCarthy, Chris Rock, Peyton Manning, Miley Cyrus, Billy Crystal, Paul McCartney and Paul Simon debate over whether comedians, actors, former cast members, athletes, musicians or guys named Paul make the best hosts.
From The Chris Farley Show to Bronx Beat, SNL recaps 40 years of unforgettable sketches.
The Super Bass-O-Matic is back, better than ever and it’s got a brand new name: Super Bass-O-Matic 2150.
Alex Trebek (Will Ferrell) tries his best to keep contestants Sean Connery (Darrell Hammond), Justin Bieber (Kate McKinnon), Tony Bennett (Alec Baldwin), Burt Reynolds (Norm Macdonald), Christoph Waltz (Taran Killam), Matthew McConaughey (Jim Carrey) and Bill Cosby (Kenan Thompson) in line.
Pete Davidson and Leslie Jones introduce a supercut of auditions from former cast members like Gilda Radner, Bill Hader and Chevy Chase. Plus, see auditions from the stars that didn’t make the cut.
Robert De Niro introduces a supercut of sketches that pay homage to New York City.
Paul McCartney – “Maybe I’m Amazed”
Keith Richards introduces Paul McCartney’s performance of “Maybe I’m Amazed.”
Jack Nicholson introduces a look back at SNL’s coverage of politics, including impressions of President George H. W. Bush, Sarah Palin, President Bill Clinton and more.
The Californians (Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Laraine Newman, Kenan Thompson, Betty White, Taylor Swift) reunite and get some surprising news about their pool boy Craig (Bradley Cooper). Plus, David Spade and Cecily Strong bring the sketch to an abrupt end.
Weekend Update with Tina Fey, Amy Poehler & Jane Curtin
Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Jane Curtin return to the Weekend Update desk and share the latest news on SNL’s viewership.
Weekend Update: Roseanne Roseannadanna
Emma Stone answers reader letters as Gilda Radner’s iconic character.
Weekend Update: Stefon
Edward Norton tries to share his New York City club recommendations as Stefon but Bill Hader and Seth Meyers interrupt to show him how it’s done.
Weekend Update: Matt Foley
Melissa McCarthy plays the motivational speaker and reminds Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Jane Curtin that being a Weekend Update anchor will not bring you jack squat.
Weekend Update Retrospective
SNL remembers Weekend Update anchors Chevy Chase, Seth Meyers, Dan Aykroyd, Jimmy Fallon, Dennis Miller and more.
Chevy Chase Tribute
Kevin Nealon, Norm Macdonald, Seth Meyers and Colin Quinn pay tribute to the Weekend Update anchor who paved the way, Chevy Chase.
Marty & Beyoncé
Martin Short and Beyoncé (Maya Rudolph) reminisce about SNL’s musical acts with help from Garth & Kat (Fred Armisen, Kristen Wiig), Marty & Bobbi Culp (Will Ferrell, Ana Gasteyer), Opera Man (Adam Sandler), King Tut (Steve Martin) and The Blues Brothers (Jim Belushi, Dan Aykroyd).
Eddie Murphy Tribute
Chris Rock pays homage to Eddie Murphy, who calls returning to SNL a magical feeling.
Derek Jeter and Peyton Manning introduce a look back at 40 years of sports sketches, including Bill Swerski’s Super Fans, Boston Teens and Yankee Wives.
Pete Twinkle (Jason Sudeikis) and Greg Stink (Will Forte) take a break from covering the action to advertise a feminine razor.
Miley Cyrus – “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”
Miley Cyrus performs a cover of Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.”
Jerry Seinfeld fields questions from audience members Michael Douglas, John Goodman, James Franco, Larry David, Tim Meadows, Dakota Johnson and Sarah Palin.
Tracy Morgan Moment
Kanye West performs a medley of songs, including “Jesus Walks,” “Only One,” and “Wolves.”
Louis C.K. introduces a compilation of SNL’s short films, including Mr. Bill, TV Funhouse, The Ambiguously Gay Duo and SNL Digital
Digital Short: That’s When You Break
Zach Galifianakis introduces a new Digital Short starring Andy Samberg and Adam Sandler.
Bill Murray honors the dearly departed members of the SNL family.
Paul Simon: Still Crazy After All These Years
Jack White introduces Paul Simon and the Saturday Night Live band’s performance of “Still Crazy After All These Years.”
Steve Martin wishes viewers a goodnight surrounded by all of the night’s performers and SNL creator Lorne Michaels.