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SNL Sketch Showdown: Samurai Delicatessen vs. Consumer Probe


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Welcome to the “Saturday Night Live” Sketch Showdown. Every weekday, an IFC writer will determine the winner of a matchup between two classic “SNL” sketches. You can check out the full bracket here.

Battle of the Blues Brothers

This round of our “SNL” Sketch Showdown pits two skits from the classic era of the series against each other, and two larger-than-life actors who went on to big things outside the series. One sketch features a eccentric outsider who lets his sword do the talking, and the other features a slimy exec who lets his company’s questionable products speak for themselves (when they’re not endangering children, that is).

The Sketches

Sketch 1: Samurai Delicatessen

John Belushi’s out-of-place samurai was a last-minute addition to a January 1976 episode of “SNL,” but it went on to become a recurring character in over a dozen sketches, and even made cameos in several musical performances and – outside the “SNL” universe – in a pair of comic books (including a 1978 issue of Marvel Team-Up). Whether he was making a sandwich or repairing a television, Belushi’s samurai (a comical take on actor Toshiro Mifune’s characters in Akira Kurosawa’s classic samurai films) offered a great showcase of the “SNL” star’s knack for physical comedy and ability to not only play off of any guest, but capture the audience’s attention no matter who was hosting the episode. Samurai Futaba remains one of the most iconic “SNL” characters portrayed by Belushi, one of the series’ greatest stars.

Sketch 2: Consumer Probe

Dan Aykroyd’s long list of memorable “SNL” contributions includes quite a few characters of questionable morals, but few were as sleazy as Irwin Mainway, the purveyor of insanely dangerous children’s toys such as “Bag O’ Glass” and “General Tranh’s Secret Police Confession Kit.” Each iteration of the sketch seemed to offer even more terrible toys than the last, with Aykroyd defending the products with that much more enthusiasm. Much like Bill Hader’s popular “Stefon” segments on “Weekend Update,” this sketch relies on outrageous lists that become more ludicrous with each element and the dead-panned delivery of the sketch’s star – something Aykroyd was more than capable of providing.

The Matchup

The success of Belushi’s samurai sketches rests entirely on their star’s shoulders, and like so many of the gone-too-soon actor’s performances, the character he plays is just as funny now as he was almost four decades ago. On the other side, Aykroyd’s “Consumer Probe” sketches also manage to generate a lot of laughs years after they aired, thanks to the (unfortunate) existence of just as many questionable products today that are being passed off as safe. Sleazy spokespeople will always be around, making Irwin Mainway’s dismissal of concerns about an astronaut helmet made out of a plastic bag with a neck-band the joke that never gets old.

And the Winner Is…

Samurai Delicatessen

Funny lists are one thing, but a consistently hilarious performance that relies so heavily on both physical acting and subtleties (like the intonation of Belushi’s “Japanese” gibberish) pushes Samurai Futaba to the top of this matchup. From the very first “Samurai Delicatessen” sketch that started it all, this recurring series represented exactly the sort of offbeat, clever comedy that made “SNL” such a showcase for tomorrow’s stars, and offered just a taste of Belushi’s talents as one of the show’s best and brightest.

Did the right sketch win? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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