'SNL' App Features 40 Years' Worth of Sketches, Show-Inspired Emojis

'SNL' app screenshot - H 2015
NBC Entertainment

iPhone carrying fans now have an easy, free way to fill their prescription for more cowbell and access other memorable moments broken down by star and season.

Saturday Night Live's library of memorable sketches can now be on your iPhone.

The first-ever SNL app, launched to coincide with the show's 40th anniversary, being celebrated with a three-hour special this Sunday, features more than 5,500 sketches from the show's 40-year history.

Popular sketches automatically start playing when you open the app, after watching an abbreviated theme-song intro. But you can also search for specific content or sketches starring particular cast members or hosts. The app lets you navigate through the show's 40 seasons just by swiping across your screen. Each season features the head shots of that season's castmembers, letting you look back at early photos of stars like Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Dennis Miller, David Spade, Chris Rock, Jimmy Fallon, Jason Sudeikis and others. By tapping on those head shots, you can then access that star's library of sketches. At the bottom of each season page, you can also scroll through that season's episodes and watch specific sketches from those shows. You can also search for exactly what you're looking for, including sketches with specific characters.

You can now spend a "Lazy Sunday" watching beloved digital shorts and sketches starring Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Dana Carvey, Chris Farley, Mike Myers, Seth Meyers, Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Amy Poehler or any of the show's other stars from its 40-year history, even those performers who didn't make a big splash during their time with the show. You can relive Fallon's SNL tenure, searching for the moments when he breaks character. You can commiserate with Rachel Dratch's Debbie Downer, who also shows up with error messages on the app, unfortunately sans her signature sound.

From a specific sketch, you can tap the "i" button, which will show you which episode the sketch is from, allowing you to navigate to that and all of the stars of the bit, including hosts and special guests. By clicking on the hosts' or guests' profiles, you can access libraries of some of SNL's most beloved recurring performers, like Steve Martin and Justin Timberlake. Yes, the app gives you "Dick in a Box" on demand on your phone.

The app is sketch-based; there are no performances from the show's 40 years' worth of musical guests and only the five most recent episodes are available in their full 90-minute form. Furthermore, not every sketch is included, with licensing issues preventing some bits from being made available, especially ones with musical elements. (Have no fear, the cowbell-filled "(Don't Fear) the Reaper" sketch is there, as is Steve Martin's classic "King Tut.")

But its still incredibly comprehensive, containing more than 300 hours' worth of video and numerous sketches from every season, including SNL's first, the clips from which look nearly as sharp as the ones from more recent seasons.

“Forty seasons of ground breaking television deserves a ground breaking app,” NBC Entertainment's executive vp digital Robert Hayes said in a statement. “We’re proud to partner with Lorne [Michaels] and Saturday Night Live on a unique digital experience, one that couples over 300 hours of video with innovative functionality and exciting original content.”

There's also exclusive, never-before-seen content, with more expected to be added as it's produced. 

The app is also designed to create a customized experience for users. You can favorite and share specific clips, and a personalization engine responds to what you're watching and how you watch and predicts what you want to see next. The more you interact with the app, the more it should reflect your tastes.

You can also use 60 show-inspired emojis like a cowbell (for when you have a fever), the "Dick in a Box" gift, a John Belushi samurai sword, a Spartan cheerleader sweater, Mary Katherine Gallagher, a Conehead and more.

The app is free for iPhones with iOS 8 or more recent editions, and while it still works on an iPhone 4S, it's optimized for iPhone 5 or later. It will soon be available on Android phones. There are ads, but they're less intrusive than you might expect. Instead of preroll ads before every sketch, the app primarily features display ads, showing users a brief video ad after they watch a few sketches.