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The internet's funniest and most controversial SNL clips

On American television, Saturday Night Live is considered something of a cultural institution - and is one of the longest continually-syndicated comedy shows on network television. Created by Lorne Michaels and making its debut way back in 1975, Saturday Night Live is a classic sketch comedy and variety show, broadcast live from New York City. In recent years, thanks to its biting satire of current affairs and the Trump administration, it's only got more popular. Chris Rock once described the show as being "the X-Men school for comedians". Originally intended as a way of showcasing new comedy talent, the show has consistently pushed the boundaries of what's considered acceptable on TV.

However, it hasn't all be plain sailing. There's been plenty of turmoil and conflict both on camera and behind the scenes, and numerous incidents which threatened to end the show prematurely. Yet SNL has proved again and again that it can survive anything; whether it be fickle fans, national crises, scandal or censorship. Check out our compilation of SNL's funniest, and most controversial, skits below.

1. Sinead O'Connor's moral stand

During this 1992 episode hosted by Tim Robbins, Irish singer-songwriter Sinéad O'Connor provoked shock and amazement around the world during her performance of the Bob Marley song War when she tore an image of the Pope John Paul II while singing the word "evil" and saying "fight the real enemy". O'Connor's anti-Catholic protest occurred years before the child-abuse scandal broke out. In subsequent reruns of the episode, the footage is edited and shows the dress rehearsal of the performance instead.

2. White Like Me

This classic Eddie Murphy sketch satirises white privilege in America in the most outrageous way. Murphy has disguises himself as a white man in order to infiltrate middle-class American society. He soon finds himself reaping numerous secret benefits, including taking out a loan with no credit, and getting free groceries from a 7-Eleven. Thirty years on, the issues of class and discrimination this sketch raises are still relevant.

3. Ashlee Simpson's lip sync fail

This is possibly the most cringeworthy example on the list. Back in 2004, Ashlee Simpson's supposedly live performance was revealed as a lip-sync, when her song played over the loudspeaker too early. Simpson, looking embarrassed, ended up doing a bizarre jig and apologised for the incident. It was later revealed that Simpson, who suffered from Gastroesophageal reflux disease, had lost her voice and had been advised not to sing.

4. Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer

Melissa McCarthy's memorable gender-bending impersonation of former White House press secretary Sean Spicer is often touted as one of the best impressions on the show. Yet apparently it wasn't too popular over in Washington D.C. - President Trump lambasted the show as unfunny and poorly written shortly after it aired. Seems like the show hit a raw nerve there.

5. The Last Voyage of the Starship Enterprise

Nerdy, poignant, biting-the-hand humour from the show's early years, "The Last Voyage of the Starship Enterprise" is a pitch-perfect parody of Star Trek, and a favourite of Trekkies, the cast of Star Trek and the cast of SNL alike. William Shatner and DeForest Kelly both praised John Belushi's performance as a world-weary Captain Kirk, as the crew of the Enterprise finally encounter the one force in the universe that they can't defeat: the NBC executives who were foolish enough to cancel their beloved show.

6. Samuel L. Jackson swears on air 

I don't know about you guys, but I wouldn't have the audacity to try to tell Samuel L Jackson what to do when the cameras are rolling, and yet apparently even he isn't safe from the censors. During his appearance on a "What Up with That?" on a 2012 episode, Jackson accidentally let slip the words "f*ck" and "bullsh*t". Thompson ad-libbed in response, "C'mon, Sam, that costs money!" which managed to save face. Jackson later claimed that Thompson was supposed to cut off his second expletive, but that they fluffed their lines, which led to the blooper. 

7. Donald Trump playing host

Donald Trump hosting an SNL episode, in the midst of his 2016 presidential campaign no less, proved to be a complete disaster. Numerous activist groups protested the fact that Trump was hosting the show, and a petition to stop Trump hosting the show garnered over 50,000 signatures. DeportRacism.com even offered $5,000 to any audience member who heckled Trump during his monologue. The episode was panned by critics, but ended up being one of the highest rated episodes in over four years.

8. Tiger Woods' domestic abuse

I'm no script editor, but I know that there are some things you should never joke about, and domestic abuse is one of them. This skit, which was meant to lampoon the numerous accounts of golfer Tiger Woods' infidelity, was badly received by the public at large, when it seemed to make light of cases of spousal abuse by women. The incident was made all the more embarrassing because Rihanna, herself a victim of domestic violence, was hosting at the time.

9. Andy Kaufman sings Mighty Mouse

Surreal comedian Andy Kaufman was always renowned for his avant-garde sense of humour, which skirted around the edges of good taste. Often touted as the world's first troll, Kaufman's divisive style didn't appeal to everyone, and you either love him or you hate him. Below you can see his groundbreaking performance in the first ever episode, lip-syncing to the Mighty Mouse theme tune.

10. Norm McDonald vs OJ Simpson

Norm McDonald spearheaded many of the finest skits on the "Weekend Update", apparently due to his inclusion of a series of jokes which named OJ Simpson a murderer during and after his famous murder trial. However it seemed that OJ had friends in high places: NBC Entertainment President, Don Ohlmeyer, was on cordial terms with Simpson.

I'm sure that this show will continue to make us crack up in the future. However, when it comes to comedy - and when you're pushing the envelope - some outrage is to be expected. Anyway, I don't care what Trump says: here's to another 40 years of success!