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
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
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.
3. President Barbie
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.