When she joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 2012, it was clear that Kate McKinnon was the perfect addition to the iconic sketch comedy show. However, that certainly wasn’t McKinnon’s first foray into the world of sketch comedy. She was a main cast member of Logo TV’s The Big Gay Sketch Show for all three of its seasons. She also had experience performing live sketch comedy with the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City. Yes, it seems that Kate McKinnon was born to do sketch comedy, which is why she fits seamlessly into the fold of SNL.
McKinnon has also had quite a career on the silver screen. She appeared in Ted 2 as herself, played Sam in the Amy-Poehler-and-Tina-Fey collaborative film Sisters, did the voice of Inez in Finding Dory, starred in the reboot of Ghostbusters, and she’s slated to be in the upcoming film Barbie as a character simply called “Weird Barbie.” It’s safe to say that McKinnon has had quite the career in and out of the world of sketch comedy.
However, the crown jewel of Kate McKinnon’s on-screen career has definitely been her work on Saturday Night Live. And, as a major fan of SNL who’s seen nearly every sketch, including Bill Hader’s best ones, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sketch with Kate McKinnon that didn’t make me giggle at the very least. So, in honor of McKinnon’s amazing tenure on Saturday Night Live, let’s take a look back at the best skits she ever starred in.
1. Close Encounter
Without a doubt, my personal favorite Kate McKinnon sketches on SNL are the “Close Encounter” series, and I think a lot of fans would agree with me. The premise of these sketches is that the National Security Agency is interviewing three people who have just been abducted by aliens. Two of the abductees claim to have had a loving and peaceful experience in which the aliens relayed important messages to them. The third abductee, Miss Rafferty (played by Kate McKinnon), on the other hand, had a very different experience.
As the skit goes on, Rafferty continues to explain all of the lewd conduct of the tiny gray aliens, how they were curious about her “lady parts,” and how they threw her out of the ship butt-naked onto the roof of a Long John Silver’s fast food restaurant. This series of sketches include some of the most outrageous and hilarious dialogue I’ve ever seen on SNL, and Kate McKinnon’s delivery is simply priceless.
2. Teacher Fell Down
Now, “Teacher Fell Down” is another one of the funniest sketches I’ve ever seen on SNL, and I have a very difficult time putting into words why that is. This skit is entirely nonsensical, and yet I felt like I had a full abdominal workout after watching it. Essentially, the scene opens with Kate McKinnon lying on the ground of a classroom, sort of looking like the world’s most awkward mermaid. Overly dramatic music is playing in the background. She’s wearing a smirk on her face, a look of defiance.
Suddenly, she starts speaking poetically as a soft piano plays. “Ha. Ha. Ha. Teacher fell down,” she says as though lamenting her own Icarian demise. But there’s a romantic element to it as well, a playful and enticing edge. In all seriousness, though, I have no idea how or why they came up with the premise for this skit, but it is painfully funny. Kate McKinnon’s incredible performance is also aided by Jonah Hill, Pete Davidson, and Aidy Bryant, having no clue what’s going on.
3. Mother Knows Best
There are quite a few SNL skits that center around fictional game shows; however, none may be as strange as the “Mother Knows Best” skit from the 2018 episode with Amy Schumer. Schumer plays the game show host, and Kate McKinnon and Mikey Day appear as a mother-and-son duo with a very odd relationship. They’re kissing each other on the lips. They say that they share a bed. The whole thing is just really messed up.
On top of how amazingly cringe Kate McKinnon’s performance is in this skit (especially when she starts singing that chilling lullaby), Amy Schumer looking both nauseous and terrified the entire time just makes this sketch even more hilarious. Leslie Jones even breaks character and starts cracking up at one point because it’s too funny.
4. Whiskers R We
There’s a stereotype about crazy cat ladies, but the “Whiskers R We” series of skits just takes that stereotype to the next level. The first-ever installment of this series was in the 2014 episode hosted by Amy Adams and features McKinnon and Adams side-by-side as two quirky friends who run a cat shelter together.
As a promotion for their Holiday Cat Giveaway, they introduce all of their feline friends that are up for adoption. And these introductions get pretty weird. For instance, in the installment of “Whiskers R We” with Kristen Wiig (who also has some amazing skits), she introduces one of the cats as “Simon Cowell… because he’s a grumpy British short-hair and he knocked up his best friend’s wife.” Jeez. Tiffany Haddish, Reese Witherspoon, Melissa McCarthy, and Charlize Theron have also appeared in “Whiskers R We” sketches over the years.
5. Long Island Medium
McKinnon is known for doing incredible impressions. Over the years on SNL, she’s done impressions of Bella Hadid, Shakira, Jodie Foster, Anthony Fauci, Jeff Sessions, Justin Bieber, and so many others. However, personally, I think her best impression of all time was Theresa Caputo, the star of TLC’s Long Island Medium.
This skit is absolutely hilarious and so very Long Island. At one point, Caputo is in a crowded room and asks, “Who had the grandfather who choked on the meatball parm?” And every single person in the room raises their hands. McKinnon nails the Long Island accent, and Daniel Craig’s brief cameo as her husband, Larry Caputo, is funny as hell.
6. Hotel Ad
In order for a sketch to really hit home, it needs to be relatable. And anyone who’s ever stayed in a budget hotel can relate to the “Hotel Ad” skit starring Kate McKinnon and Billie Eilish. The whole scene reads like an advertisement, but they’re pretty much listing off all of the terrible things about staying at a hotel that charges under $100 per night.
One of my favorite lines in this sketch is when McKinnon says, “Located between the DMV and the darkened Sonic, it’s the destination that’ll make your Uber driver say, ‘You sure?’” I also particularly love when they describe the continental breakfast consisting of “wet egg” and “yogurt in a fridge that gets padlocked at 8:59 a.m.” Overall, McKinnon and Eilish do a fantastic job delivering this skit (even if Billie did break character and start cracking up a few times), and the experience of staying in a nightmarish hotel is something most of us can relate to.