Clean SNL Clips to Teach Satire

Saturday Night Live is loaded with examples of satire set to current events. Most sketches, however, are not appropriate for the classroom. Here is a list of three that are completely clean and on a level most high school students can understand.

1. Totino’s Super Bowl Ad

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Click here to watch it. Vanessa Bayer plays the wife who just wants to feed her “hungry guys” while they watch the big game. Instead of watching with them, she makes them snacks – Totino’s Pizza Rolls – and completes an activity pack created by Totino’s. Vanessa excitedly plays with a top, a nine-letter word search, and a connect-the-dots image you can clearly see without connecting any dots.

Satire: specifically – advertisements directed towards men often portray wives as nagging, short-order cooks who would be lost without a man. In general it mocks how we treat women and what our expectations of them are.

2. Star Wars Toys

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Click here to watch it. A bunch of kids are loving the new Star Wars toys, but some toy-collecting grown men keep ruining their fun. My favorite part is when the boy asks if the man’s wife likes toys too, but he just stares sadly back at the camera.

Satire: it’s making fun of adults who do not play with toys, but instead collect and look at them.

Includes free worksheet and links to three hilarious, but clean and appropriate, Saturday Night Live commercial parodies to teach satire to high school students.

3. President Barbie

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Click here to watch it. Mattel is proud of their President Barbie doll, complete with Snap Chat enabled cell phone, but young girls want nothing to do with it. They’d rather play with their Legos or even an old broom.

Satire: it’s making fun of the toy companies who are trying to empower young girls by forcing more dolls on them.  Showing the toy companies’ lack of understanding with gender neutral toys and with what children are interested in.

What to do with this?

I like to pair this with “Modest Proposal” since both are satires. I show the SNL skits first and have the students complete a quick worksheet with a graphic organizer: clip name, satire (what aspect of society is being criticized), and an explanation with examples from the clip. Click here for my worksheet.

We read “Modest Proposal” as a class to make sure no one really thinks they ate babies. There is always that one kid each class who forgets it’s satire.

As an assessment for students’ understanding of satire, I have them create their own. Students can make their own modest proposal or a quick commercial similar to the SNL examples. Last year many of the students chose to make their own commercials. One group created a cell phone for babies to give them a head-start on learning technology. 



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6 Replies to “Clean SNL Clips to Teach Satire”

  1. Love this! I just used this lesson with my juniors and they loved it. I was wondering if it would be possible to pick your brain about how you assessed kids who chose to do the skit? I’m playing around with how to grade that.

    Any advice? 🙂

    1. Thanks! I created a worksheet students had to fill out prior to filming. They needed to identify what they were mocking and how citing specific details and dialogue they intended to use. That way I could still assess their understanding and base a majority of their grade on that.

  2. I like the examples you use! I usually teach “A Modest Proposal” with satire as well, so it’s fun to see how you paired it with something catchy and fun. 🙂 Thanks for the ideas!

    1. Thanks for the feedback and for checking out my blog. If SNL is too much for the students, I’ve also used the opening number from the most recent Lorax movie and the princess rescue scene from Shrek.

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