This past weekend, Saturday Night Live viewers were given a nice surprise, as Melissa McCarthy made a cameo appearance playing Press Secretary Sean Spicer. The impersonation was a big hit, being hailed as one of the show’s best political sketches in years. Of course, McCarthy’s appearance was just the latest in a long line of memorable cameos from various celebrities over the course of the show’s 42-year history. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the finest guest spots ever to appear on SNL.
John Goodman as Linda Tripp
This one set the precedent for Lorne bringing in Baldwin and McCarthy for big roles this year. There was just no one better than Goodman for the role of Tripp, and he played her in the most gloriously outrageous way possible. This was a case of realizing that humor was far important than accuracy, and the humor here was simply undeniable. Who can forget Goodman-as-Tripp saying to Molly Shannon’s Monica Lewinsky “Did you give him a beej?” in a valley girl-type voice. Also worth mentioning is when Lewinsky herself made a cameo on what just may be the greatest Ladies Man sketch ever.
Tina Fey as Sarah Palin
Everyone knew this one had to happen. The physical similarities between Fey and Palin were simply undeniable, and if any other person had been brought in for the role, viewers would have been asking questions. Sure enough, Fey was brilliant, as the 2008-09 season began on a massive high note. Alongside Amy Poehler’s Hillary Clinton, Palin tries to make a feminist statement, but it quickly becomes apparent that the two having nothing in common. It was an astute observation, but more importantly, it brought the house down, most notably on the immortal line “I can see Russia from my house,” which most people think Palin said herself. Also regardless of your thoughts on Palin’s politics, she deserves credit for being a good enough sport to come on the show herself, especially considering the show’s liberal New York crowd.
When Bob Dole Confronted Norm Macdonald About His Impression of Him
Fresh off his defeat in the 1996 election, Dole shows up to surprise Norm, whose Dole impression had proven to be quite popular. He points out the inaccuracy of the impression, noting that “I don’t go around saying ‘Bob Dole does this’ and ‘Bob Dole does that.’ That’s not something Bob Dole does!” It was perfect, and the audience erupted into laughter and applause. Dole had often appeared cranky and humorless, but this bit proved that he did, in fact, have a sense of humor about himself. If only he had been so charming on the campaign trail.
Jim Carrey Pretends His Leg Is a Guitar During a Foo Fighters Performance
Much like everything Jim Carrey does, this was great because of how gloriously random and manic it was. During a performance of “Times Like These,” the camera pans to Jim Carrey, who briefly uses his own leg as a makeshift guitar. It was only a few seconds long, and it was never explained, because it didn’t need to be. Worth noting, this episode had a ton of cameos. Will Ferrell (one year removed from the cast) shows up to announce he’s dating Britney Spears, which is quickly rebuked by Spears herself. Finally, Steve Martin shows up to announce that he’s “doing a cameo,” then promptly leaves, which only he could get away with.
Jesse Jackson Reads Green Eggs and Ham on Update
This one doesn’t require much explanation. One of the most prominent civil rights leaders in America goes on TV and reads a children’s book in the most deadpan way fashionable. It was totally out of nowhere, and it showed that the Reverend had a light-hearted side to him.
Madonna and Barbra Streisand Show Up on “Coffee Talk”
This one was just absolutely unforgettable. First, Madonna appears incognito as a middle-aged woman named Liz Rosenberg (which is actually the name of her publicist) who complains about how she doesn’t like Madonna’s provocative performances. Then, Streisand shows up to surprise Linda and the girls and everyone completely loses it, including the audience. Streisand only gets one line in before leaving, but that was all we needed. This was everything Coffee Talk has been leading up to in every previous sketch.
Robert Duvall Appears on “Who’s More Grizzled?”
No one is better at playing crotchety old men then Duvall, so this was a natural fit. In a game show hosted by Norm Macdonald, Duvall competes with another old dude played by host Garth Brooks to see how can out-grizzle the other one. Duvall lets us know that he “doesn’t cotton much to these computers today” and that he was the first man to get a team of horses up Bear Mountain. The responses are pretty much uniformly hilarious, but the best part is when Norm says the one of the given answers doesn’t count because it was actually wistful. This one was completely unexpected, and undeniably brilliant.