Escape rooms share a lot with game shows. There’s the taste of victory and the agony of defeat. There’s the ridiculous gaffes and the brilliant moments.
Throughout Saturday Night Live’s (SNL’s) history, we’ve seen possibly hundreds of game show skits. If you’re not at The Escape Effect this Saturday evening, then let’s give you the second best thing – an assortment of the funniest game show parodies SNL has to offer.
Season 40, Starring Jimmy Fallon, Will Ferrell, Darrell Hammond, and Norm MacDonald
Celebrity Jeopardy is a recurring favorite for many that includes host Alex Trebek, played by Will Ferrell, and contestant Sean Connery, played by Darrell Hammond. The other contestants are changed out with each episode.
Watch as contestants stumble through the questions to rack up the worst scores ever! On top of it, Trebek has to put up with Connery’s incessant jabs – he just never gets a break, even during Final Jeopardy! And come on… Turd Ferguson?!
If you thought trying to keep up with inept contestants and ribbings was fun, be sure to watch some other episodes including the very first one with Martin Short and the Rock & Roll edition with a cameo from the real Alex Trebek. There’s even some Black Jeopardy episodes headed by SNL legend Kenan Thompson with guest stars including the late, but great Chadwick Boseman and the ever-comical Tom Hanks, to name a couple.
What’s That Name?
Season 44, Starring Aidy Bryant, Mikey Day, Heidi Gardner, Bill Hader, Alex Moffat, Cecily Strong, Melissa Villasenor, and John Mulaney
Vince Blight, played by Hader, says that “the rules are simple – we show you a person, you tell us their name!” Oh, but only if it was that simple. After luring contestants Doug and Courtney, played by Mulaney and Strong, into a false sense of confidence with the first question, he ups the stakes and makes it all a bit more interesting.
If you like this gameshow, be sure to check out Kenan Thompson’s Norman the Doorman on another episode from season 36.
Season 37, Starring Paul Brittain, Bill Hader, Taran Killam, Kristin Wiig, and Emma Stone
Secret Word is a parody of old-school game shows like Password and $25,000 Pyramid. Two teams of two face off to try to get their partner to guess the password, or secret word. Each of these teams is made up of a celebrity and an ordinary contestant. It’s these celebrities that completely ruin the game for the contestants.
In fact, it’s Wiig’s character, Mindy Elyse Grayson that seems to be a regular on the show and is completely inept at giving clues to her partner. Almost in every episode, she blurts out the password prematurely to her partner’s frustration. And Stone’s Miss America is equally as clueless.
If you enjoyed this episode, you’ll enjoy a bunch of others. Some of our favorites star Jude Law as one of the guest celebrities and another where Kenan Thompson takes over hosting duties from Bill Hader.
Season 13, Starring Dana Carvey, Jan Hooks, Victoria Jackson, Kevin Nealon, and Steve Martin
Now for a throwback all the way to the late 80s. Steve Martin guest stars as the host of a new gameshow where “it’s not what you know, but what you think you know”. That’s right, it’s a straight up quiz with not-so-straight up answers. Questions are picked by a panel of scholarly experts, but answers are determined by a survey of high school seniors.
The skit is a commentary on the perception of our education system, even 30+ years ago. There’s that moment when you can remember a time where you may have thought that the answers given were actually the correct answers. In short, it’s realizing our own imperfections that makes this whole thing funny.
Season 43, Starring Beck Bennett, Mikey Day, Pete Davidson, Alex Moffat, Cecily Strong, and Kumail Nanjiani
Two contestants Paul and Gretchen, played by Nanjiani and Strong, appear on a pretty straightforward gameshow, but it’s not so straightforward when we learn why they are each playing.
Paul exudes arrogance or maybe a misplaced confidence and just wants to win so he can pay for some “dope jackets and jeans”. The laughs begin when the show gets a bit awkward after we all learn that Gretchen wants to win to pay for the surgery her daughter needs to restore her hearing. Paul’s heart starts to grow and grow, much like the Grinch did at the top of the mountain. No amount of text can capture the verbal and visual cues that will make you LOL! Greed isn’t good, it’s great!
What’s Wrong With Tanya?!
Season 37, Starring Vanessa Bayer, Abby Elliott, Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, Kristin Wiig, and Anna Faris
Mary Jo Williams, Jo Beth Anderson, and Mary Jo Beth Jo Jo. Do these sound like female characters on any Lifetime movie? Maybe. But they’re also contestants on this gameshow that makes a commentary on the stereotypes of white women specifically from over-the-top Lifetime movies.
How are these motherly contestants able to tell what’s wrong with Elliott or Samberg? And how are they able to get so detailed? Watch when Mary Jo Beth Jo Jo takes on the bonus round where the music becomes more ominous and the raking of leaves is unusually dramatic. Maybe that doesn’t sound like something to laugh through, but if you know Lifetime, you’ll get it.
Meet Your Second Wife!
Season 41, Starring Vanessa Bayer, Aidy Bryant, Leslie Jones, Taran Killam, Bobby Moynihan, Cecily Strong, Kenan Thompson, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler
Arguably not a gameshow, but the unsuspecting men on this show are lined up like contestants to all learn who their second wife will be. As it turns out hosts Helen Walsh, played by Poehler, and Tina Fey, as herself, can report the future and they report it so “matter-of-factly”.
It gets really uncomfortable as the hosts bring out children and explain that these will be their second wives. It’s the reactions from the contestants and their current wives that will make your gut hurt.
Season 42, Starring Mikey Day, Kate McKinnon, Bobby Moynihan, and Melissa McCarthy
Marcy, played by McCarthy, is one of three contestants vying to become “richer than chocolate mousse”. Unfortunately, Marcy literally becomes richer than chocolate mousse as she constantly lands on pies and cakes or is penalized for seemingly arbitrary reasons.
If you’re a fan of game shows, you probably recognize the board as something inspired by the classic 1980s Press Your Luck hosted by Peter Tomarken. What not everyone remembers is that PYL was based on the late 70s Second Chance. Oh, and did you know that someone figured out the pattern and won over $100,000? Yea, back in the 80s, that was a huge amount. Heck, it still is!
Kiss Me, I’m Irish
Season 43, Starring Beck Bennett, Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon, Alex Moffat, Cecily Strong, and Bill Hader
Setup in the same manner as The Dating Game, this skit pokes a little fun at the Irish. Three female contestants are vying to date the bachelor, played by Hader. What’s eventually discovered will make viewers feel laughingly uncomfortable.
If you had a choice between using an app and appearing on a game show, where do you think you would find love?