While recapping Saturday Night Live episodes for the past year or so, it has come to my attention that Hulu — the primary source for SNL viewers who watch episodes online (an increasing number of people under 30, it turns out) — typically leaves out a sketch or two when it uploads an episode. The reasons usually concern music licensing. NBC has to pay a large amount of money to get the rights to use a copyrighted song in a sketch, and that amount increases significantly if that sketch will be posted online (NBC’s website and sites like Hulu, which has a contract with NBC). So any part of the show that would complicate negotiations with record labels should it be posted online is removed from the version of the episode on Hulu.
Normally this isn’t too big a problem. It’s just one sketch per episode, after all — well worth getting the rest of the episode for free the day after it airs. We also try our best in our recaps to track down versions of the missing sketches on sites like YouTube before NBC forces the uploaders to take them down. And in the past, these sketches haven’t been particularly memorable.
Except very recently, that is. Over the past two seasons, frequently the best sketches of the night happen to feature a licensed song that keeps them offline. And considering a large number of Splitsider readers watch SNL on Hulu, I feel obligated to share with you some of what you’re missing out on. Hopefully that’ll encourage you to watch SNL as it’s meant to be experienced: on television, live, and at a low enough volume so your neighbors don’t wake up and catch you watching their TV.
Jimmy Fallon Monologue. Perhaps one of the most fun moments of this season was Jimmy Fallon’s opening monologue from last December, in which Fallon pulled out a guitar and sang a version of the Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” running around back stage and dancing with the whole cast on stage. Watch the video here.
Best of Both Worlds. I’ve never been a huge fan of this recurring sketch featuring Andy Samberg’s Hugh Jackman, who hosts a talk show focused on his “TWO SIDES” of macho action hero and Broadway star. But there have been some memorable moments – namely, some particularly violent twist endings – that the sketches’ samples of Broadway numbers have kept offline. Watch the video here.
Bro Stories. Perhaps my favorite recurring sketch from the past few years, you might remember this piece in which a group of men sit around a table drinking beers, singing along to a classic hit, and sharing warm memories with each other… with each story having a weird, dark twist at the end. The concept first appeared when Rainn Wilson hosted in 2007 (Kenny Loggins’ “Danny’s Song”) and most recently when Ed Helms hosted last season (Cat Stevens’ “Wild World”). With the song at the heart of this sketch, it’s not likely we’ll ever see these anywhere online.
Les Jeunes De Paris. Taran Killam made his big break on the show with a sketch in which French teens dance frantically and make random visual references to French culture. It’s a number that never makes much sense but is a ton of fun regardless. I assume Hulu didn’t post the first two instances of this sketch because they contained Europop tracks, but luckily NBC posted the most recent one on its website.
Cosby Obama. Another sketch from the Maya Rudolph episode fell victim to music licensing rules. Hulu didn’t cut the entire sketch, however – just the funny ending, in which the Obama family parodied the famous Ray Charles’ “Night Time Is the Right Time” moment from The Cosby Show, also featuring Amy Poehler making a cameo as Hilary Clinton.
Downton Abbey on Spike. After disliking it at first, I came around to this parody, in which a shallow Spike TV announcer tries to make sense of the tidy PBS period drama Downton Abbey. In this case, it appears the sketch was removed due to its use of actual footage from the show. Watch the video here.
Cry Music. Emma Stone and Nasim Pedrad play coworkers who confess their mutual obsession with Adele’s “Someone Like You” as the perfect sob song. SNL perfectly captured a cultural trend before it had been beaten to death by human interest pieces on cable news and public radio. Watch the video here.
Coolio Orchestra. This 10-to-1 sketch from last weekend’s episode featured Jonah Hill rapping the lyrics to Coolio’s “I’ll C U When U Get There.” If not consistently hilarious, it was such a fun way to end the show. Watch the video here.
Commercial Break Peeks. Another thing Hulu-watchers miss are the peek-ins during the commercial breaks, in which we get to see the crew set up for the next sketch or shots of the band playing. Every once in a while there will be a glimpse of something interesting during these peeks. Last week there was an entire sketch set up that was mysteriously never aired, an image made even more strange by the sight of band trombonist Steve Turre playing a conch shell (thanks commenter Francis Rizzo for uploading the video). And in the Ben Stiller episode last fall, Jason Sudeikis remained in his Hank Williams Jr. costume from an earlier sketch and joined the band to play us out to commercial.
These and many more, folks. Do what you can to watch SNL on TV, then use Hulu to share it with your friends. Rely solely on Hulu, and you’ll miss half the fun.
Erik Voss is a writer and performer living in Los Angeles. He performs with his improv team The Cartel at the iO West Theater.