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11 of the Best ‘SNL’ Skits from the ‘80s, Ranked

Get ready to laugh at some of these classic skits!


Saturday Night Live has been capturing the pop culture zeitgeist since 1975, and in the 1980s, the ultimate sketch-comedy show was a true laugh factory.

However, many of the skits would not pass muster in today’s politically-correct era. Race, sexuality, age and other topics are among the off-color topics skewered for laughs.

The show was bolstered by actors who would go on to major fame including Bill Murray (1977-1980), Gilda Radner (1975-1980), Eddie Murphy (1980-1984), Mike Myers (1989-1994), Dana Carvey (1986-1993), Billy Crystal (1984-1985), Robert Downey Jr. (1985-1986), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (1985-1986), Martin Short (1984-1985), Jim Belushi (1983-1985), Joan Cusack (1985-1986), Gilbert Gottfried (1980-1981), Phil Hartman (1986-1994), Christopher Guest (1984-1995), Jane Curtin (1975-1980), Joe Piscopo (1980-1984) and Kevin Nealon (1986-1995).

Here are 11 skits that made us guffaw/smile the biggest:

11. “Gumby: Broadway Gumby Rose” (1984) — Best SNL skits from the 80s

In a takeoff of the Woody Allen comedy Broadway Danny Rose, cranky old men (Crystal, Short, Guest) at a diner argue about the old days, and then Gumby enters saying “I’m Gumby, dammit.” Gumby talks about recording a fish commercial and flings insults with the guys while they reminisce. They get musical and sing about the Morey Amsterdam sandwich.

10. “James Brown’s Celebrity Hot Tub Party” (1983)

Murphy plays James Brown disrobing into his swimwear amid his glam team and getting into a hot tub that he feels is too warm. ”Too hot in the hot tub – burn myself, make it cooler,” he sings as he shimmies.

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9. “Pillow Pets” (1981) — Best SNL skits from the 80s

Hear Gottfried’s real voice during this zany skit where a wife (Ann Risley, 1980-1981) gets upset at her husband (Gottfried) for caring more about his pillow pets than her.

8. “Wrong Number Breakup” (1983)

Louis-Dreyfus and now-husband Brad Hall (wed 1987) face a case of mistaken identity as he tries to break up with her over the phone.

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7. “Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood” (1983) — Best SNL skits from the 80s

In this hilarious skit, Murphy riffs on the children’s classic TV show Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. He begins with the song, then talks about how he lifted a bag of groceries who paid him only 25 cents to carry them to her car, lamenting that prices aren’t what they used to be. He shows off what the little old lady he stole from purchased, complete with chalkboards to explain words. When authorities close in on him, he packs up the goods and heads through the window sensing it’s getting “too hot” in his apartment.

Murphy returned to host in 2019 for the first time since his departure, and brought the skit with him, revitalized for the changing times.

6. “Suitcase Boy” (1986)

Downey Jr. and Cusack play suitcases left to fend for themselves in this 1986 bit. Randy Quaid (1985-1986) plays their handler.

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5. “Wayne’s World” (1989) — Best SNL skits from the 80s

The 1992 movie that became the movie for Generation X got its start as a recurring skit in 1989 on Saturday Night Live.

Carvey and Myers play cable-access hosts who host a movie-review show.

Their catchphrase? “Party time – excellent!”

Myers’ character was inspired by the Canadian TV show It’s Only Rock N’ Roll.

“It was just basically [based on] the people I grew up with,” Myers said in a 1990 CBC interview. “There’s a certain homogeneous suburban adolescent heavy metal experience… Just hanging out and being a goof.”

4. “Too Pumping Up With Hanz & Franz” (1987)

Hanz, played by Carvey, and Franz, played by Nealon, were Austrian bodybuilders, who portray  cousins of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Their signature catchphrase was “We’re here to pump you up.”

In this sketch, Schwarzenegger joins the fellas to talk to schoolkids about bodybuilding, and the three of them flex their pectoral muscles (breasts) for a hilarious display. Then, Hanz and Franz crack eggs saying, “These are your muscles on steroids.”

The regular segment was developed as a movie-musical in the 1990s and Schwarzenegger planned to join Carvey and Nealon for the comedy, but it was ultimately scrapped.

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3. “Church Chat” (1986) — Best SNL skits from the 80s

Played by Carvey, Enid Strict embodies the Church Lady persona that had everyday comedians playing for laughs with catchphrases like “Well, isn’t that special?” and “Could it be … Satan?”

The drag character appears 18 times since 1986 with guest stars including Sigourney Weaver, Sean Penn, Rob Lowe, Danny DeVito and John Goodman.

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Carvey started performing as The Church Lady during his standup act, and it was based on his real life.

“It was from when I was a kid and we missed church,” he told David Letterman in 1987.  “Remember when your family would miss church for a couple Sundays, and then you’d show up sort of embarrassed and had to make an excuse, like ‘we had a barbecue, lighten up, man.’ The church ladies would be there –  they were the people who just never left the church. They were waiting out in front, and they, like, lived there. Parents would show up and they’d look at my mom and say, ‘Well, I see the Carvey family decided to show up in the Lord’s house today.’”

Here’s a 1987 skit featuring Jan Hooks (1986-1991) as Tammy Faye Baker and Hartman as Jim Baker being chastised by The Church Lady. Watch the mascara run, and jewelry show off.

2. “White Like Me” (1984)

Murphy plays for laughs with this recurring sketch about the privileges Caucasians enjoy. In this skit, Murphy gets made up like a white man and tackles everyday tasks like taking the bus and taking out a loan, getting preferential treatment (that doesn’t exist) everywhere he goes.

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1. “Toonces The Driving Cat” (1989) — Best SNL skits from the 80s

Introduced by Steve Martin when he hosted the show in 1989, Carvey takes over as his caretaker in a recurring role alongside Victoria Jackson (1986-1992). For its debut, dubbed “Driver’s License,” hijinks happen when the feline drives off a cliff. Then, they wish they could help him with his driving test, and what happens but that cliff appears again. Every sketch includes the furry feline driving off a cliff.

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