Saturday Night Live celebrated 40 glorious years on Sunday night with a star-studded, 3 and ½ hour special honoring everything that’s come before. The mix of tribute clips and original sketches offered more than its share of laughs, and at its best, it was able to both wink at the past and produce great original moments. That balance was perfectly struck during an opening monologue that featured Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake belting out a song that referenced some of the show’s classic moments. You can check it out below…



The best part about the above clip is how obvious it is that both Fallon and Timberlake really care about the history of Saturday Night Live. They’re not simply reading cue cards or dropping references someone else told them to make. SNL shaped their world views and their senses of humor, and they genuinely wanted to give props and send out a smile to all of the legends that came before them.

Like The Nerds…



And Lazy Sunday…



The best thing about Saturday Night Live is that it’s so much bigger than anyone one character or any one era. Ask someone who the best cast member in the history of SNL is and chances are they’ll give you a different answer. From Bill Murray to Eddie Murphy to Phil Hartman to Chris Farley to Will Ferrell to Tina Fey to Bill Hader, the list of legends on the longtime late night show includes many of the most important comedians of the last four decades. It’s remarkably special to watch them try and figure it out, to try and notice early on that they’re destined for something special down the road.

Saturday Night Live should be proud of the special it put on. It’s not easy to do a highlight show. It’s even more difficult when you’re trying to bring back as many cast members and former hosts as possible, but somehow, Lorne Michaels and company pulled it off. Bravo.

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