“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.
#34. Patriotic Shorts (Oct. 6, 2001)
Patriotic Shorts was a very important sketch at the time for “Saturday Night Live” as it came less than a month after the tragic terrorist attacks of 9/11 had caused so much pain to not only New York, where the show is, of course, performed, but the entire nation. It was important, I think, for two reasons. 1) Because people really could use a good laugh after so much tragedy and 2) Because the nation had already been taken over by over-patriotic symptoms (that frankly it hasn’t gotten over even 13 years later) and that’s something that needed to be poked fun of to some extent.
Will Ferrell is arguably the greatest cast member in the 40 great years of ‘SNL’ and this is probably one of his greatest hits on the show.
The sketch, which appeared in just the second episode of ‘SNL’ after 9/11, features the week’s host Seann William Scott as a boss of an office who wanting to show his American pride allows his employees to wear patriotic attire like ties adorned with the flag or flag pins. One employee, Ferrell’s Dale McGrew, takes things just a little bit too far when he shows up for a company meeting wearing a half shirt that says ‘USA’ that completely bares his midsection and flag shorts that have been cut into a thong.
The punchline of the sketch is simply Ferrell’s wacky attire that shows off a sense of over-patriotism. Things get uncomfortably hilarious when Dale McGrew wanting to pour himself a cup of coffee turns his back to the camera showing off both of Ferrell’s butt cheeks. Ferrell was known to be the one cast member to truly go above and beyond for laughs and this was a clear sign of his willingness to make people laugh.
A great aspect of the Patriotic Shorts sketch is how the rest of the cast members in the sketch (Horatio Sanz, Rachel Dratch, Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers) struggle to keep their giggles under wraps throughout the entire six-plus minute sketch, oftentimes failing in doing so. Things get particularly hilarious when Ferrell leans back in his chair and places his feet upon the meeting room’s table completely exposing his red, white and blue crotch.
Patriotic Shorts was the perfect sketch for “Saturday Night Live” to air less than a month after our nation’s worst tragedy. It was probably the first time some people had laughed since before 9/11.
#35. John Belushi’s Feelin’ Alright