Each season, Saturday Night Live produces over 170 sketches that make it on air, and another 20 or more that now end up online as “Digital Exclusives” or “Cut For Time” sketches. With the reduction in commercial breaks next season, SNL will have at least two more sketches make it to air each episode, taking that total number of sketches to possibly over 200 a season.
That is a lot of funny and not-so-funny material to sift through. But have no fear, because below are the 15 best sketches of SNL‘s season 41. This list doesn’t include any commercial parodies or Weekend Update segments. This is solely for sketches both live and pre-taped, and also doesn’t include every appearance by Larry David as Senator Bernie Sanders. Sorry, Bernie Bros.
15. FBI Simulator
Larry David hosted one of the better episodes and appeared several times as Senator Bernie Sanders over the course of the season. But his turn as the orange neon suit-wearing Kevin Roberts was another highlight of season 41.
14. Quiz Whiz 2018
The week that Senator Ted Cruz dropped out of the Republican Presidential race, SNL dropped this sketch with a slow burn towards a great reveal by host Brie Larson. Bonus points if you can find the other sketch on this list that references “Crichard.”
13. Close Encounter
Ryan Gosling breaking multiple times was the reason this sketch received as much press as it did, but Kate McKinnon’s stellar performance as Miss Rafferty had everyone breaking. Miss Rafferty returned during the Brie Larson episode, but Larson did not break like Gosling.
12. Shanice Goodwin: Ninja
A throwback to sketches like Astronaut Jones and Middle-Aged Man was this ridiculous concept featuring Leslie Jones as a ninja who takes down some Russian mobsters with some less than ninja-like moves.
11. Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base
With the release of The Force Awakens in December, SNL had a few Star Wars-related sketches this season, but this parody of Undercover Boss featuring Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) was the best, and most popular with over 17 million views on YouTube.
10. 3D Printer Man
After Fred Armisen, Matthew McConaughey probably was the best host this season. His comedic acting abilities were on full display as Bruce, who may or may not be a 3D-printed human being.
9. Santa Baby
Gosling and Vanessa Bayer play a Tarantino-esque couple who deeply disturb their new neighbors because of their desire to meet Santa Claus. This sketch is dark and weird, but also features some of the best performances in any sketch this season.
8. Mafia Meeting
The beginning may be a little bumpy with Jon Rudnitsky apparently missing his cue. But host Peter Dinklage saves the day as Jonathan Comets, a singer who confuses some mobsters with his song about space pants and his friend Gwen Stefani.
7. Screen Guild Awards
In the aftermath of the Oscar nominations not recognizing a single person of color, SNL skewered the Academy with this sketch from the otherwise awful Ronda Rousey episode. The sketch could also be viewed as somewhat hypocritical, since SNL has had its own share of bad press over the show’s tendency to hire lots of white guys.
6. George W. Bush Cold Open
It doesn’t really get much better than Will Ferrell as former President George W. Bush. In easily the best cold open of the season, Bush declares his intention to run for president again while tearing apart the current GOP candidates.
The biggest surprise of the season may have been Ariana Grande’s hosting turn in March. She was amazing through the entire episode, including an amazing Jennifer Lawrence impression during a Celebrity Family Feud sketch, but the highlight was this sketch where she saved Tidal by impersonating several pop divas.
4. Establishment Shuffle
For some reason, this digital exclusive sketch has disappeared from all of the “official” SNL online video sites. This sketch is so good, and well done, that it’s hard to believe it didn’t get to air. While all of the right-wing personalities featured are a little awkward, nothing beats Kyle Mooney’s turn as North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory.
3. Meet Your Second Wife
One of the biggest letdowns of the season was the episode co-hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. But they still managed to dazzle us with this takedown of the older man/younger woman dynamic that is more socially acceptable than an older woman with a younger man.
2. Bern Your Enthusiasm
The breakout star this season was Larry David as Senator Bernie Sanders. He appeared six times as the Democratic candidate, and brought some much needed excitement to a rather rough patch of political writing this season. The best appearance by David as Sanders was this parody of David’s own HBO show, Curb Your Enthusiasm.
1. Farewell, Mr. Bunting
This may be the best SNL sketch of the past couple of seasons. The slow build, featuring a reading of the hilarious first page of the student’s poetry textbook by Beck Bennett, lulls the viewer into a daze before the shocking conclusion knocks you off your feet. SNL has rarely been this good in recent seasons.