NBC’s Saturday Night Live has been around since its premier episode (hosted by the incomparable George Carlin) in 1975. Since then, the sketch-comedy show has been a cultural barometer, satirizing global events and forcing us to laugh in even the direst of times.
Truly, one of the only silver linings of the January 6th Capitol Riots was getting to see Keenan Thompson as Bennie Thompson in a skit that was undeniably hilarious. Of course, COVID-19 was no laughing matter, but the “COVID Dinner Discussion” skit featuring John Mulaney was some of the funniest content released in 2022. Saturday Night Live (SNL) continually invites us to take a break from the travails of life in the real world and laugh collectively at the hardships we’re all enduring.
Throughout the show’s long history, there have been some amazing actors that have been part of the cast. This show gave a start to comedy greats such as John Belushi, Eddie Murphy, Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, and Tina Fey. However, after watching nearly every episode of SNL that’s ever existed, I do have one all-time favorite cast member: Bill Hader.
If you aren’t a fan of SNL, then you may recognize Bill Hader from his HBO dark comedy series Barry in which he plays a serial assassin with aspirations of being a theater actor, and that show is most definitely worth a watch.
In this article, though, we’re going to honor Bill Hader’s career on Saturday Night Live (where he made his rise to stardom) and look back at the best SNL skits that Bill Hader ever acted in. He’s known for his outrageous facial expressions, his ability to impersonate any human on Earth, and his overall lovability. If you’re unfamiliar with Bill Hader’s work, these skits are a great place to start.
1. Firehouse Incident
This incredible skit turns the stereotype of the ultra-macho firefighter on its head and shows Bill Hader at his most ridiculous. The scene starts out with Jerry (played by Maroon 5’s Adam Levine) talking to Rula (Nasim Pedrad), the ex-girlfriend of a firefighter named Bryce (Bill Hader). Things get out of control when Bryce enters the scene and starts absolutely losing his shit in a comically high-pitched tone.
As the skit continues, we learn that Bryce and Rula dated over 9 years prior (which is more than enough time to heal the heartbreak) and that they only dated for two weeks. The relationship even ended when Bryce threw hot tea in Rula’s face. Things go even more askew when Bryce learns that his favorite television show was canceled. This entire skit is really just about Bill Hader acting like a maniac, and it looks as if his eyes might pop out of his skull for the entire five minutes.
2. Puppet Class
This skit is about, well, a puppeteering class. The exuberant instructor of the class is played by Seth MacFarlane, who encourages his students to imagine a persona and backstory for their puppets. As they go around the room, all of the students devise light and playful personalities for their puppets until they get to Anthony Peter Coleman (Bill Hader). Coleman, a dishonorably-discharged U.S. Army Private, uses his puppet Tony to essentially detail the war crimes that he was instructed to carry out by his higher-ups.
The entire skit features Coleman telling horrifying war stories; however, the fact that he’s telling them through the lens of his puppet Tony makes it unbearably hilarious. Despite how hard the instructor tries to lighten the mood, Coleman finds a way to bring it back to the horrors he experienced in the war. To make things even more ridiculous, Coleman’s puppet is shaking and smoking a cigarette the entire time.
3. Stefon on Weekend Update
“Weekend Update” is a recurring segment on SNL in which the host (or now, hosts) recount the week’s major news events, splicing in a joke here and there. For years, a recurring guest on “Weekend Update” was a New York City nightlife correspondent named Stefon (Bill Hader), who was typically responsible for filling the audience in on all of the city’s hottest clubs and dive bars. While Stefon made appearances before his final hurrah in the finale of SNL Season 38, they all followed a similar format.
Stefon, clad in an Ed Hardy-esque t-shirt, would pretty much describe the most outlandish nightlife establishments that one could possibly imagine. For instance, one of the clubs described by Stefon featured a 300-pound Chinese baby named DJ Baby Bok Choy, who wears tinted aviator glasses and spins records with his “little ravioli hands.” Bill Hader’s performances as Stefon are undoubtedly some of his funniest, so much so that he could barely stop himself from laughing in most of these appearances.
4. Dateline: The Mystery of the Chopped-Up Guy
Another recurring skit featuring Bill Hader was the “Dateline” series in which Hader would portray Keith Morrison, the real-life host of Dateline NBC, a show that investigates criminal cases. However, Hader’s version of Keith Morrison seems to enjoy hearing about brutal murders a little more than a broadcaster should, and the “Dateline: The Mystery of the Chopped Up Guy” skit exemplifies that perfectly. Every time a gruesome detail of the murder is mentioned, Morrison’s face lights up. At one point, he even pulls out a bucket of popcorn.
In this installment of the “Dateline” series, the suspect Diego (portrayed by Steve Buscemi), confesses to the murder almost immediately. However, being that the show needs to last 60 minutes, they ignore the confession and keep the interview going. By the end of the segment, host Keith Morrison and murderer Diego are basically best friends.
5. Short-Term Memory Loss Theater
In this skit, Hader portrays Dr. Arnold Kitos, a doctor who swears that he’s found a way to remedy short-term memory loss through theater. In the introduction to the performance, Dr. Kitos claims that each of his actors has been cured of their short-term memory loss; however, when the performance begins, it becomes very clear that this is not the case.
As each of the actors comes on stage, they all forget their lines almost immediately, forcing Dr. Kitos to remind them and keep them on track. As this continues, Dr. Kitos’s frustration comes to a boil. Eventually, Dr. Kitos calls it quits and brings the performance to an early end.
6. Vinny Talks to John
Yet another one of Bill Hader’s iconic SNL roles is as Italian talk show host Vinny Vedecci. In this particular sketch, Vinny interviews iconic actor John Malkovich. However, unbeknownst to John Malkovich, the interview will be conducted in Italian, a language that Malkovich can’t speak. This leads to rising tempers, and one of the producers of the show (who’s eating a plate of spaghetti and meatballs) to throw his silverware.
Perhaps the best part of this entire sketch is Bill Hader’s flawless impression of Malkovich, which only serves to frustrate Malkovich even more. The final straw is when Vinny’s son (played by Bobby Moynihan) decides to take a seat on Malkovich’s lap and pinch his cheeks.