It’s been a banner year for Saturday Night Live.
The legendary sketch comedy show capped off with a whopping 22 Emmy Awards nominations, including nods for standouts cast members Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones.
While the show won two awards at this weekend’s Creative Arts Emmys — Dave Chappelle won for outstanding guest actor in a comedy series, while Melissa McCarthy’s energetic, scene-stealing Sean Spicer impression helped her win the outstanding guest actress in a comedy series — there are still plenty of awards left for SNL to take back to Rockefeller Center with them.
So, before the big night arrives on Sept. 17, let’s take a look at the funniest and most outrageous sketches of the year … and see which one of the three performers nominated for supporting actress has your vote.
KATE MCKINNON, OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
McKinnon took home the trophy for this category last year, thanks to her collection of madcap, wonderfully weird characters, her idiosyncratic impressions of political figures, and, of course, her ability to lead an entire production number as Kellyanne Conway. (CNN breaking news bulletins would be a lot more entertaining if they suddenly turned into Chicago-inspired dance routines.)
But while McKinnon’s performance as Conway got the most attention this year, let’s not forget her other brilliant impressions: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who she played with a Forrest Gump-esque Southern drawl and giant prosthetic ears, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who just wants a text back from Former President Barack Obama, and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who wants to remind us all that we can get “Gins-burned” at any moment.
Of course, those real-life characters pale in comparison to some of McKinnon’s most outlandish creations. This season’s standouts included Sharon, who always gets the worst near-death experiences; Shud, the mermaid who is 85% blob fish; and her biggest scene-stealer, Debette Goldry, an aging screen starlet from the studio system who thinks her horror stories about being treated as a literal prop and being forced to eat arsenic in order “to make your skin pale,” are perfectly reasonable.
VANESSA BAYER, OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Bayer earned her first Emmy nomination for her final season on Saturday Night Live, thanks to reappearances from classic characters like Jacob the Bar Mitzvah boy, child newsreader Laura Parsons (who likes to sing about all of the worst news) and of course, Rachel from Friends. (Not to be confused with Jennifer Aniston herself.)
This year also brought her recurring, Super Bowl-adjacent character the Totinos Lady — she’s never had a name — who experiences a romantic and spiritual awakening after her first look at Sabine, played to seductive French perfection by Kristen Stewart. From the lingering hand touches as they rearrange pizza rolls to the way Bayer whispers all of her lines, it’s a spot-on parody of both obnoxious football commercials and dramatic arthouse cinema. But really, isn’t Stewart everyone‘s Totino?
And who could forget about “A Girl’s Halloween,” which chronicled every single up, down and upchuck of a typical, drunk Halloween night that featured Bayer screaming and crying in the street about having to be the cheese, while Aidy Bryant and Cecily Strong got to be a mouse and a cat. Everyone — whether they want to admit it or not — has been Bayer, applying lipstick on a street corner at 4 in the morning while her friends sob.
LESLIE JONES, OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Jones has become one of the show’s biggest breakout stars, thanks to her role in Ghostbusters, her rising status as a style icon and her complete, unabashed enthusiasm for everything from the Olympics to Coco Rocha walking down the runway. Of all her unforgettable, hysterically outspoken appearances as herself on Weekend Update, nothing won the audience over like time she addressed the online trolls who harassed and hacked her online.
But while Jones is best known for her commentary and wild stories about “getting her groove back” on vacation, she’s also proven herself to be a brilliant character performer as well. Her most unexpected role was probably the one that she never actually got: Donald Trump. The faux-documentary style captured Jones’ backstage preparation to take over the role from Alec Baldwin … only to have Lorne Michaels dismiss her impression as soon as he saw it. It could have been yuge, you guys.
Another of Jones’ wonderful meta-sketches is “Jheri’s Place,” in which the cast members hold a press conference breaking down what went wrong with the sketch after it falls apart:
ALEC BALDWIN, OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Baldwin’s presence on Saturday Night Live — and most likely, his Emmy nomination — comes down to just one character: The Donald. From press conferences to cold opens to faux-interviews, Baldwin has embodied every single one of President Trump’s hand gestures, verbal tics and most importantly, the lip purse.
However, Baldwin’s finest moment of the season came when he played not one, but two infamous celebrities, as he played Bill O’Reilly interviewing himself, as President Trump, on a fake episode of The O’Reilly Factor. That he manages to inhabit two people who are completely different (yet terrifyingly similar) at once proves that Baldwin is ready to handle whatever the next four years throws his way.
The 69th annual Primetime Emmy Awards, hosted by Stephen Colbert, will take place on Sunday, Sept. 17, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles and will be broadcast live on CBS.