“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.
#35. John Belushi’s Feelin’ Alright (Oct. 2, 1976)
The late John Belushi is one of the most beloved cast members in the illustrious 40 year history of “Saturday Night Live” known for many great characters and impressions. Perhaps his best impression was that of the spastically gritty English singer Joe Cocker. Cocker is considered by many to be one of the best vocalists of all-time thanks to his gritty, bluesy voice that led Rolling Stone magazine to name him the 97th greatest singer of all-time, but it was his incredibly spastic body movements while performing in concert that he’s perhaps most known for.
It was these spastic body movements mimicked by Belushi that truly made his impression of Cocker one of the most iconic in ‘SNL’ history. Belushi impersonated Cocker five times on the program. Some might choose his first appearance doing Cocker’s cover of The Beatles’ classic “With a Little Help From My Friends” in October of 1975 to be his finest Cocker turn, but my favorite was his final appearance as the singing legend in October of 1976 when Belushi actually got a chance to out Cocker the real Cocker when the bluesy voiced performer happened to be the night’s musical guest.
It’s the only time I can remember in ‘SNL’ history where an actual musical performance is turned into a fantastically funny comedy bit thanks to a cast member’s impression.
The musical performance starts with just Cocker performing his hit “Feelin’ Alright” dressed in white pants, a white sport coat and a black t-shirt underneath that had ‘Stuff,’ the name of his band, written in pink lettering. After Cocker finishes the first chorus Belushi comes out onto the stage dressed identically to Cocker and performs the second verse of the song. Seeing Belushi’s impression right next to Cocker proves just how brilliant it really was. Belushi, of course, takes it a little bit further by drinking a beer and wildly pulling at his frizzy white boy afro during the song.
I loved Belushi’s impression of Cocker so much that one Halloween during college I even dressed up as John Belushi impersonating Joe Cocker from this very performance with my hair all messed up and wearing a black t-shirt with ‘Stuff’ written across it. Nobody got the joke.
#36. Debbie Downer
#37. Extremely Stupid
#38. Five-Timers Club
#39. We’re Cowboys & We’re Proud
#40. Wilford Brimley for Liberty Medical