The Best of the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special

Robin A. Rothman
Dana Edelson/NBC

SNL40 Weekend Update

Saturday Night Live celebrated its 40th anniversary last night with a star-studded live three-and-a-half hour extravaganza. Like most episodes, the show offered a few true gems. Here are five clips that represent perhaps the best half-hour of the night.

The Ladies Man the Desk

After a bumper that built up the suspense about who would deliver the news to us, the reveal couldn't have been more perfect: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Jane Curtin. The ladies delivered everything a successful Weekend Update should: balance between professionalism and silliness, spot-on punch line delivery, co-anchor rapport, and plenty of room for others to shine. You'll get it all in this one clip, including Emma Stone's damn good Roseann Rosannadanna impression to honor Gilda Radnor, Ed Norton pulling off an impressive Stefon, and Melissa McCarthy proving she knows a lot more than squat about Chris' Farley's Matt Foley.

Seven Minutes of Schwing-worthy Laughs

From kinda getting Kanye to show a sense of humor to a Lorne Michaels impressions duet we could have watched all night, Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey were, in a single word, excellent on "Wayne's World."

Cool Cold Opening

With limited time and 40 years of material to cover, having power-duo Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon reprise their "History of Rap" as a "History of SNL" rap medley was a smart way to start things off with a bang and to cover the bases by squeezing in many of the lines we were all hoping to hear.

Super Celebrity Jeopardy

As always, poor Alex Trebek (Will Ferrell) lost control of his show when Sean Connery (Darrell Hammond) piled on the yo momma jokes and mispronounced the category names. But as extra contestants were added to the mix, the sketch became something even better than its, ahem, norm.

Ode to Giggles

Some of the greatest moments of SNL history have been because the players just couldn't keep it together. Of all the ways to celebrate the show over the years, the digital short "And That's When You Break" from Andy Samberg and Adam Sandler was one of the most unexpected and (perhaps therefore) most effective—despite leaving out Fallon's "More Cowbell" crack-up.

Honorable Mentions:

Chris Rock: Though it's hard to understand why they chose to hype Murphy's attendance, introduce him, then trot him out just to humbly say thank you, Rock's tribute was heartfelt, funny, and fantastic.

Bill Murray: Buried in a 15-minute sketch of Martin Short and Maya Rudolph honoring SNL's history of musical comedy is a golden nugget of Nick Ocean (Murray) singing "The Love Theme from Jaws." Hit the 11:24 mark to catch a bonus of Steve Martin resurrecting King Tut.

Murray also introduced the evening's full history In Memoriam, which began with John Belushi's "Don't Look Back in Anger" film. Murray may have won the night in a couple of much more subtle, but poignant moments here. First, amidst the laughter at Jon Lovitz being declared dead for the second time that night, Murray almost imperceptibly apologized to Lovitz out in the audience. Then he brought the comedy completely back home with what might be the longest-ranging callback in comedy history.

Comedy, of course, is a subjective thing. Share your favorite moments from last night's show in the comments below.