“Saturday Night Live” is celebrating its milestone 40th anniversary this season and as a huge fan of the show I wanted to celebrate it with a list of what I consider to be the show’s 40 most memorable moments. Trying to condense a show like “Saturday Night Live” into 40 memorable moments for its 40 years on television is a fool’s errand. One-hundred moments wouldn’t be enough. So there are going to be moments throughout this list that cause controversy because they are included when others aren’t, but that’s what happens when you have such a legendary show and it’s the debate caused by those moments chosen and those left out that truly makes a list fun and worthwhile.
#36. Debbie Downer (May 1, 2004)
Every now and then something will happen on “Saturday Night Live” that will wind up permanently engrained in the American lexicon. Debbie Downer is one of those things. Because even people who have never seen a single one of the Debbie Downer sketches on ‘SNL’ know what the term “Debbie Downer” means and have probably used it on an occasion or two. “Debbie Downer” has become synonymous with a depressing person seemingly bent on destroying any positive atmosphere within a group of people.
The character, which quickly became the greatest and most recognizable character of veteran cast member Rachel Dratch’s tenure on the show, debuted on May 1, 2004 in an episode hosted by Lindsay Lohan and instantly became a classic due to the outrageousness of the character and more importantly the giggles it created amongst every single member of the sketch. Debbie Downer would go on to appear on the show six more times, but it never quite lived up to the hilarity of the first time.
In the first appearance Debbie Downer (Dratch) is eating breakfast at a restaurant at Walt Disney World, the supposed happiest place on Earth, with her family members played by Lohan, Jimmy Fallon, Amy Poehler, Fred Armisen and Horatio Sanz. The family is extremely pumped about their breakfast, except for Debbie Dower, of course, who interjects depressing facts about the horrors of life amidst her families’ excitement.
Dratch’s punchlines as Debbie Downer are hilarious, but the real humor of the bit comes early on when the entire cast seems to come down with a fit of the giggles on live television. The first sign of the giggles comes after Debbie Downer’s interjection about Roy from Siegfried and Roy not doing well and the slide trombone sound effect seems to make her break character ever so slightly – which sets notorious gigglers Fallon and Sanz off immediately. Within a half minute the entire cast in the sketch has completely lost it. The best part of the whole thing is how much Dratch loses it because of how depressing her character is supposed to be.
The first Debbie Downer sketch is one of the most memorable sketches in ‘SNL’ history because it’s incredibly rare to see every single member of the sketch in hysterics and almost unable to carry on. At one point in the sketch you literally see Sanz wiping tears from his eyes because he’s laughing so hard. You know it’s one of those sketches in which they probably couldn’t keep it together during dress rehearsal and just tried their best during the live show. Thank God they couldn’t keep it together, because their reaction to the sketch is what truly makes it so memorable.
#37. Extremely Stupid
#38. Five-Timers Club
#39. We’re Cowboys & We’re Proud
#40. Wilford Brimley for Liberty Medical