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10. "Mom Jeans," SNL, 2003

Mom jeans have been ubiquitous in the suburbs for years, but no one ever noticed them until SNL permanently injected the phrase into popular culture. Nine-inch zippers and casual pleats — why do WASPy moms wear such hideously cut denim apparel? They seem specifically designed to direct a maximum amount of attention to an unflattering ass. But the moms love the mom jeans, perhaps because they agree with the commercial's chipper voiceover when it proudly declares, "You're not a woman anymore — you're a mom!" — WD

9. "H&L Brock," SNL, 1976

This one's only a partial clip of an oldie, but we'd be remiss not to include John Belushi's Lowell Brock of H&L Brock, who has seventeen reasons why you should come to him for all your tax needs. Reasons that include borderline criminal acts, promised with such deadpan sincerity that Belushi, probably a little out of his element in this long-running sober sketch, ultimately reaches a breaking point. — WD

8. "Hey, You!" SNL, 1977

One function of these commercial parodies is their ability to drill straight down to the absolute truth about a product. Take perfume. "Not all women are looking for Mr. Right," the voiceover purrs seductively. "Sometimes they might just want a little company for the evening." So true. It would have worked even without the final shot of Gilda Radner hailing a cab in her evening dress the next morning, but that outro elevates this bit to timeless. — WD

7. "First CityWide Change Bank," SNL, 1988

This parody is so realistic it could run on regular TV, bookended by ads for Subway and Verizon, and you'd probably never even notice it was a fake. "First CityWide Change Bank" makes fun of the very idea of commercials for banks — who chooses a bank based on anything other than how many ATMs they have near where you live? Phil Hartman's CityWide experience is the best of them all: four guineas, two crowns, four shillings and ten pence in exchange for his five-pound note. Thank God for such an essential financial institution. — WD

6. "Samuel L. Jackson Beer," Chappelle's Show, 2004

Samuel L. Jackson beer

Bad parody goes after obvious, already-ridiculed targets (like, say, Britney Spears); great parody nails the subtle absurdities that no one had yet identified. Samuel L. Jackson was such a bad motherfucker — the ultimate personification of cool — that no one really noticed he'd been coasting on his "bad motherfucker" shtick ever since Pulp Fiction. Enter Dave Chappelle, the greatest impressionist of his generation. Nailing Jackson's gun-toting-preacher cadence ("Mmm, mmm, bitch!"), Chappelle then takes the sketch into outer space in his usual good-natured fashion, recasting Jackson's greatest rants before going out with a moment of literal scenery-chewing. — PS

5. "Jewess Jeans," SNL, 1980

This could just be a song on the radio and you'd still laugh out loud, but seeing Gilda Radner prance around in gold-lame piping and a halter top is not an image we'll soon forget. "She's read every bestselling book/She's a gourmet blender cook/She's got that Jewish loooooook . . . " Radner does what was probably one of pop-culture's earliest JAP impressions, back when such women were known for tortoise-shell glasses and ridiculously long, dangly necklaces. Semetic jokes are essentially today's default humor, but this early pioneer set the stage, and placed the bar as high as her platform heels. — WD

4. "Buhweet Sings," SNL, 1981

Before Daddy Day Care and the other jalopies that reduced Eddie Murphy to bizarre self-parody, the man was indeed legit, and this skit recalls the heady, fuck-you-FCC days of Raw and Delirious. He's in fine form as an all-grown-up Buckwheat, playing to the point of absurdity the original Buckwheat's painfully caricatured, borderline minstrel-show speech patterns. His afro and grin get the audience howling before even a word is spoken. — CM

3. "Robot Insurance," SNL, 1995

Old people are a prime marketing demographic, and the best way to sell them something is to scare the living shit out of them. "Robot Insurance" is the best parody of an elderly-targeted commercial that's ever been made, and without Sam Waterston (who's satirized his own sober reputation for John Waters before), it wouldn't quite work. His ridiculously grave delivery is the joke itself, when he ominously intones, "When they grab you with those metal claws, you can't break free, because they're made of metal, and robots are strong." — Will Doig

2. "Little Chocolate Donuts," SNL, 1977

It's the simplest possible setup: John Belushi trumping a flock of trim athletes in a decathlon. Just the sight of that paunch making its way around a track is worth a laugh, but it's Belushi himself who's the ultimate payoff. As the posterboy for unclean living, he relies on "little chocolate donuts" to stay fit, and the half-smoked cigarette dangling from his chubby hand puts this one over the top. — Peter Smith
1. "Bass-o-matic," SNL, 1976

Dan Aykroyd is a born salesman. He's got the relentless patter of an auctioneer, looks completely at home in a patterned suit and grins like a huckster who's got you in the palm of his hand. I actually want to buy a blended bass after watching this video, which is probably why Aykroyd's pitchman persona came to define much of his career (we still think Ray Zalinsky was the best thing about Tommy Boy). "Bass-o-matic" was one of SNL's earliest forays into the commercial-parody genre that it would eventually come to dominate, and no one could have jumpstarted it like Aykroyd and his quick-and-easy fish preparation device. — Caitlin MacRae

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