The SNL “Best of…” compilation was long the best way to see old sketches or relive your favorite characters and cast members. In the days when you had to just wait and hope for an older episode to show up in reruns, “Best of”s were a terrific way to get a sense of just what was so great about folks like Gilda Radner or John Belushi. And as the show continued into the salad days of VHS and DVD, over two dozen “Best of” compilations were released, covering many cast members and a handful of classic hosts. Sure, even in their heyday these compilations didn’t cover every deserving cast member (would that we had “The Best of Jan Hooks” or “The Best of Bill Murray”), but not long after they’d left the cast you could get DVDs of “The Best of Jimmy Fallon” and “The Best of Chris Kattan,” so it stings a bit that (the fantastic) Amy Poehler was the last cast member to date to receive the “Best of” treatment. Since then, a number of cast members who absolutely merit a compilation have left the show, but it seems like the decline of the home video market and (supposedly) easy online access to sketches from throughout the show’s history has conspired to put an end to the practice. For fans of the show, it’s kind of crazy that there hasn’t been a “Best of Kristen Wiig” or “Best of Bill Hader.” But we here at SportsAlcohol.com are going to do our part to correct the situation (or at least to offer suggestions; c’mon, Broadway Video/NBC/whoever should be doing these! we’ll do the work!). The project here is to provide at least a rough simulation of a “Best of” compilation, with a sampling of signature characters, memorable or iconic sketches, as well as a couple of Weekend Update appearances. Because of the spotty availability of sketches online, I’m going to list the preferred “Best of” sketch and, if necessary, providing an alternative that you can check out online.
First up, to celebrate a cast member who is enormously beloved among (at least parts of) the SportsAlcohol.com offices and to get you ready for Sunday’s hotly anticipated premiere of The Last Man On Earth, we’re offering our suggestions for “The Best of Will Forte.”
Will Forte was a Featured Player in Season 28 (2002-2003) and a cast member from Season 29 to Season 35 (2003-2010). In that time, he created a number of memorable (and memorably deranged) characters, including the charmingly racist Hamilton, the charmingly insane Falconer, the charmingly deviant Jeff Montgomery, and the charmingly all-of-the-above MacGruber. Amazingly, Forte managed the seemingly contradictory feat of essaying the only character from his era of the show to make the leap to a feature film (joining the ranks of beloved characters like Wayne & Garth, Mary Catherine Gallagher, and the Roxbury guys) and of basically being the human embodiment of the “ten to 1” sketch (the kind of sketch that’s too weird to make it earlier in the night, when more of the audience is awake). Of course, the box-office performance of MacGruber (a terrific expression of Forte’s particular comic sensibility) makes a lot of sense as sort of a “Ten to 1: The Movie.” All this is to say that “The Best of Will Forte” is going to weird.
COLD OPEN: Hardball (w/ Forte as Zell Miller, 11/12/05)
Unfortunately, we’re starting out with a sketch that is unavailable online. Just know that Forte’s Zell Miller is a thing of beauty. So instead we’ll go with a bit of Forte’s George W. Bush. He was one of the guys who was tried out in the role after Will Ferrell left the show, and while he was in something of a no-win situation following Ferrell’s iconic performance, Forte’s peevish president was a pretty funny take on the guy.
(For my money, the funniest “MacGruber” is the one with Charles Barkley, but this one is available online in discrete sections, so we’re using it to fit the format. And really, you can’t go wrong with any of them.)
Trick or Treat
Fart Face(I admit, we’re lightly trolling you with this choice. But we’re fond of it, and they actually recurred it two more times! Here‘s the third, featuring James Franco. And if you’re prefer to sample some of Forte’s other improbably recurring characters, there’s Lyle Kane and Neil.)