The Best and Worst of Saturday Night Live

The Best and Worst of Saturday Night Live – 2010 Edition —————————————- Live from New York…it\’s Saturday Night!!! Seven years ago I wrote a long article about Saturday Night Live. Since that time it has becoming the most viewed page on Since seven years have passed I\’ve decided to update the article, much like the second edition of a book. For the most part it\’s the same, but still new and improved! Enjoy. I remember when I was growing up waiting patiently for the 10:00 news to end so I could hear those words. I looked forward to every Saturday so I could stay up late and watch Saturday Night Live. I also remember hating when the first musical act came on. Why? Because it meant the first third of the show was done, and the first third was always the funniest; with the second third being hit and miss; and the last half hour just absolutely sucking. I distinctly remember watching episodes as far back as 1983…but thanks to Comedy Central\’s incessant repeats of SNL several years ago, I have an appreciation for the early years of the show. A few years back I was listening to the local Sports/Talk radio station when they posed an interesting question. Name your top three SNL cast members. I paused, \”Hmmmm, who would that be…\” Almost immediately the idiots I was listening to blurted out that it has to be Chris Farley. What? Some other idiot gave mention to Steve Martin. While Steve Martin appeared several times on SNL (hosted 12 times), he was never a cast member. To figure out who are the top SNL cast members, one must first learn who ARE the SNL cast members. Below is a list and description/critique of the cast members of SNL, appearing in alphabetical order. NOTE: There are several cast members who spent time as \”Featured Players\” before becoming an official \”Cast Member\”. Most notably is Mike Myers who was a Featured Player from 1988 – 1992. For purposes of this list, I will only include Featured Players who eventually became cast members. So no Ben Stiller, no Damon Wayans, and no A. Whitney Brown. Sorry. Hey, even Senator Al Franken is left off this list. Cast Fred Armisen … (2002-) He didn’t have any memorable characters for many years. He played a lot of foreign characters (perhaps due to his Venezulan/German/Japanese background). That was until Barack Obama came on the scene and he donned blackface to impersonate him. While there was a little hubbub at first, the controversy subsided. His impersonation of Governor of New York David Paterson has also created waves, but it seems like most everyone thinks that Paterson is a buffoon, so Fred seems to be getting away with that impersonation as well. Dan Aykroyd … (1975-1979) One word, Bass-o-matic! Dan Aykroyd was fantastic on SNL, but really made himself a household name for his movies. Even those old re-runs make me laugh. It\’s also amazing how he\’s been able to live off the character of Elwood Blues for more than 20 years. Although maybe those royalties are drying up, or his wife (the fetching Donna Dixon) is in need of some plastic surgery. Because those are the only explanations for this. Morwenna Banks … (1995) I gotta be honest…I have no idea who this is, and even after an internet search, I still don\’t know. Upon further digging, turns our Morweena was a late season replacement in \’95 and was part of just 4 shows. At least that explains why I had no idea who she was. James Belushi … (1983-1985) (as Jim Belushi) Nowhere near as funny as his brother. Best known for staring opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in Red Heat, opposite a dog in K-9, and the (shockingly) long running ABC sitcom “According to Jim”. John Belushi … (1975-1979) The original Chris Farley, and saying that insults John beyond imagination. He was an original. The guy was absolutely crazy…and that was when he was sober! Jim Breuer … (1995-1998) Best known for his \”Goat Boy\” character. Or in some circles for his stand-up routine that completely revolves around weed. I never found him very funny. Dana Carvey … (1986-1993) Two words, \”Choppin\’ Broccoli\”. I think George H.W. Bush said it best when he said, “Dana Carvey does a better \’me\’ than I do”. There were so many great characters that he did on the show, but I think my favorite has to be Carsenio (Johnny Carson changes his look and body to be more like Arsenio Hall). \”Joan Embry is in my house!\” Chevy Chase … (1975-1976) Short put sweet…Chevy set the bar for Weekend Update, but truly known for his work after SNL. Ellen Cleghorne … (1991-1995) For some reason I never really liked Ellen…though her impersonations of Puerto Rican and Dominican women were pretty funny. Billy Crystal … (1984-1985) \”You look Mah-vel-ous\”, Billy\’s \”Fernando\” put that into the American vernacular. It was his only memorable character, but it was a good one. Quite an impact for only one year on the show. Jane Curtin … (1975-1980) Although she revived her career with \’Third Rock From The Sun\’…if you can call that \”reviving your career\”, but Jane was tremendous on SNL. I know most would disagree, but I thought she was funnier than Gilda Radner. Joan Cusack … (1985-1986) I forgot Joan was on SNL…again, someone known much more for their post-SNL work. Denny Dillon … (1980-1981) Who? What? Hello? Ohhhh! I had to look it up, but I know her as Toby Pedalbee, Marty Tupper\’s secretary in the fabulous HBO comedy \’Dream On\’. That was a great show. Marty Tupper was my personal hero during the early 90\’s. How that ugly guy got so many hot chicks…ahem…well, anyway… Denny didn\’t make much of an impression during her SNL days. Robert Downey Jr. … (1985-1986) Ugh… the \’85-\’86 season was just a lost year for SNL… All nine of the cast members that year were brand new. Only three of the nine would be around the next year. Robert wasn\’t one of them… maybe it was this rejection that put him on the path of drugs, sleeping in neighbors\’ houses, and Ally McBeal appearances. I\’m not sure which of those is worse. But Hollywood forgives and forgets easily and Bob has bounced back nicely. Brian Doyle-Murray … (1979-1982) Call me crazy, but me thinks Brian got this gig because he was Bill Murray\’s brother. You probably know Brian best as Buster from Groundhog Day…he was either the Mayor of Punxsutawney or at least the head of the groundhog committee. He\’s the guy who later in the movie is choking and Bill Murray saves his life. You\’ve seen Brian in a lot of movies (he\’s also Noah Vanderhoff in Wayne\’s World). But his SNL career is a blank on me. Rachel Dratch … (1999-2006) Oringally known for her character Sheldon, the co-host of a middle school TV show, Dratch expanded her repertoire of characters over the years. Best known for her Barbara Walters impersonation and Debbie Downer. She had a slow start on the show but become a mainstay during the early 2000s. Robin Duke … (1981-1984) Oddly enough…as I am forced to look up certain people in this list, they seem to be in a lot of SNL cast member movies. Robin plays Doris the waitress in Groundhog Day. If you don\’t know who she is by that, then you\’ll never know. I vaguely recall her from SNL. Pretty funny…but nothing that sticks with you. emailer Don informs me that Robin Duke played Wendy Whiner (wife of Doug Whiner played by Joe Piscopo), not Mary Gross like I had previously written. Thanks Don! Nora Dunn … (1985-1990) I personally love Nora Dunn. I think she\’s hilarious…of course I am a bit biased towards the late 80\’s SNL cast members. Best known for her impersonation of Joan Baez and Liza Minelli, she also did a great bit with Jan Hooks as the Sweeney Sisters who sang like lounge lizards… you remember… \”Clang, clang, clang went the trolley. Ring, ring, ring went the bell.\” Christine Ebersole … (1981-1982) Trying hard to remember who this is by pictures I can find on the internet, it seems she was the blonde hottie from back in the day. Chris Elliott … (1994-1995) Chris Elliott… great writer (he wrote and performed some hilarious skits on Late Night w/ David Letterman in the early years…yeah, back when Letterman was funny). Hollywood just seems to love this guy, but the public doesn\’t. He kept appearing in TV series and in movies, and they all flop. You might remember Chris as the star of the movie \’Cabin Boy\’, and the short lived TV show, \’Get A Life?\’ Chris was also in \’Groundhog Day\’…he was Larry the cameraman. He was also part of that horrible \’94-\’95 cast, more on that later. Jimmy Fallon … (1998-2004) Ohhhh he\’s so cute… How in the hell did Jimmy Fallon become even moderately famous? He was best known on SNL for cracking up during skits and anchoring Weekend Update. In 2004 Fallon left SNL to pursue a file career culminating with 2005’s Fever Pitch which helped ruin the Boston Red Sox winning the world series after nine decades of frustration. He now hosts Late Night… which just kills me. Letterman to Conan to Fallon… who will they get next? Spencer Pratt? Chris Farley … (1990-1995) Considered a comedy god by any beer-drinkin\’ frat boy who went to college between \’90 and \’95. Ok, the motivational speaker who lived \”in a van…down by the river!\” was funny. After that…nothing. Just a lot of falling down, breaking tables, and wild incoherent rants…and people didn\’t think this guy was on drugs? Maybe I like my comedy just a little smarter. Will Ferrell … (1995-2002) Once David Spade left the show, Will Ferrell developed into the best guy they had. During the late 90s the only recurring skit you could count on were the Spartan cheerleaders. Will was a lot like Phil Hartman, he could play just about anyone. His straight-man performance of Alex Trebek was also fantastic. Although his George W. Bush wasn\’t the best, he set the tone for the classic satire of our 43rd president. One word, \”Strategery\”. Tina Fey … (2000-2006) The first female head writer for SNL. Tina held down the Weekend Update anchor desk (with Amy Poehler) for several years before moving on to write and star in an SNL-esque sitcom called 30 Rock. A cult (and critic) favorite the show is still on the air, and winning awards for NBC (and boy do they need it). Will Forte … (2003-) Birthname: Orville Willis Forte IV. Can’t imagine why he goes by Will. He is one of those excellent background guys who is in a lot of various skits; like a Mark McKinney or a … actually, he might be the white Tim Meadows. He’ll probably be on SNL for a lot of years and his one memorable character will be made into a terrible movie. I wish I was joking: MacGruber Janeanne Garofalo … (1994-1995) Janeane did not even last a full season. Rumor has it that Janeane left because she felt there were biases against the women on the show. Either way, much better known for her stand-up and acting work. Ana Gasteyer … (1996-2002) I liked Ana Gasteyer. The problem is that none of her characters really stood out, but she fit in so well. She is a role player who you would miss if she was gone. Gilbert Gottfried … (1980-1981) Ack… do I need to say any more? I think I\’ll always remember Gilbert best for hosting \”USA Up All Night\” movies on Friday nights. Of course most guys my age remember Rhonda (the host of Saturday\’s \”UP All Night\” movies) better. Mary Gross … (1981-1985) Mary isn\’t a household name, but you would recognize her if you saw her. You\’d also remember her voice, sort of \’nasally\’, if that\’s a word (but not like Victoria Jackson). For the old school SNL-ers, you\’ll remember Mary from the Buckwheat days when she played a fantastic Alfalfa. Christopher Guest … (1984-1985) You may know him better as Nigel Tufnel (Lead Guitar, Vocals) of Spinal Tap, \”This one goes to eleven!\” Or Count Rugen from The Princess Bride? Or the doctor from A Few Good Men… the one that Tom Cruise grills on the stand and tries to prove that the doctor overlooked a problem with young William Santiago? Anyway, he is an excellent character actor whose skills were best suited for movies. Bill Hader … (2005-) An excellent impersonator in the mold of Darrell Hammond. He’s also done a lot of voice over work and played support roles in a number of movies in recent years (Tropic Thunder, Adventureland, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and unfortunately the upcoming MacGruber movie. Anthony Michael Hall … (1985-1986) He was great in National Lampoon\’s Vacation, Sixteen Candles, and The Breakfast Club…but once he moved out of that geeky 14-year-old phase and became a geeky young man it just didn\’t work. He was awful. But as Anthony got older his career had a resurgence, starting with playing the role of Bill Gates in Pirates Of Silicon Valley then moving on to the USA show The Dead Zone… where he didn’t even look like the Anthony Michael Hall of old. Which is probably a good thing. Brad Hall … (1982-1984) Brad Hall is probably best known for being the husband of Julia Louis-Dreyfus (we\’ll get to her in a minute). You might recognize him if you saw him. Considering IMDB only has him in 7 other roles besides his time on SNL, you probably won\’t recognize him. I seem to remember him as tall, geeky, with Michael Bolton-esque hair. I\’m guessing he is living off of Julia\’s money. Rich Hall … (1984-1985) Now \’Rich\’ Hall on the other hand you might remember from \”Not Necessarily the News\” a hysterical HBO show…that was basically a half hour version of SNL\’s Weekend Update. Rich is also the originator of Sniglets, which was a series of books containing \”words that don\’t appear in the dictionary, but should\”. Like: Meganegabar – the line you draw after writing out the amount on your check, so someone else doesn\’t add \”and a million dollars\”. Anyway, Rich tried to launch himself into an Al Franken type of roll as a general satirical social commentator, but he wasn\’t quite as clever and well-spoken…and the Al Franken role was already filled by Al Franken, so he just disappeared. Maybe he should run for public office? Darrell Hammond … (1995-2009) Darrell finally left SNL and is the longest running cast member at 14 seasons (take that Tim Meadows). I liked him best for his Bill Clinton impersonation, although his Sean Connery on Jeopardy makes me giggle like a little girl. \”I\’ll take \’The Rapists\’ for 400 Alex!\” \”That\’s \’Therapists\’, Mr. Connery\” Darrell held the show together during the lead late 90s and early 2000s (post Will Farrell years). He holds the record for the most impressions by a single cast member, 105, and as long as Donald Trump is alive Darrell will have a job. Phil Hartman … (1986-1994) I\’m not ashamed to admit it, when I found out Phil Hartman was killed, I shed tears. Phil is by far and away my favorite from SNL. It may be because I miss his voices from The Simpsons and his role on NewsRadio too, but his SNL performances were unforgettable. During his 8 years on SNL he did it all. He did the announcer voice for almost every skit during that time (include the intro for all of the \’Deep Thoughts\’). He did Admiral Stockdale, Bill Clinton, Barbara Bush, Ronald Reagan, Andy Griffith, Gene the Anal Retentive Chef, Ed McMahon, and Frank Sinatra just to name a few. Why couldn\’t the SNL curse have happened to Adam Sandler? At least we learned one thing from his death, never get involved with psychotic crack-addicted women…no matter how hot they are! Jan Hooks … (1986-1991) I always liked Jan Hooks. Her role on \’Designing Women\’ (and \’Third Rock From The Sun\’) tarnished my view on her after her SNL days, but looking back to her time on SNL, she was very funny, especially when teamed up with Nora Dunn. Her best characters were: Tammy Faye Bakker, Hilary Clinton, Kathie Lee Gifford, Sally Jesse Raphael, and Sinead O\’Connor. Melanie Hutsell … (1991-1994) I can\’t seem to find any corroborating evidence on the internet, I believe Melanie is the girl at the beginning of Sir Mix-a-lot\’s Baby Got Back video, you know, the one saying… \”Oh my God! Look at her butt. It\’s so round!\” Anyway, most of Melanie\’s characters were variations of a whiny valley girl. Her only memorable character was Jan Brady, which apparently she performed in some sort of Brady type play before being on SNL. Although I never disliked her, how did she stay on SNL so long? Victoria Jackson … (1986-1992) Ok, I\’ll be honest, I think the only reason I liked Victoria is because she was blonde, chesty, had pouty lips, and could do the splits. Now what 14-18 year old guy wouldn\’t like that? Her voice was moderately annoying, but she was usually pretty funny. Her most memorable skits were various performances on Weekend Update…showing off her gymnastic ability. Chris Kattan … (1996-2003) I’ll be honest, the guy always kinda freaked me out. He\’s sort of elfish…very weird. Anyway, he was at his best when playing a strange character…whether it\’s one of the \”Night at the Roxbury\” guys, Azrael Abyss (the co-host of the cable access show \’Goth Talk\’), or Mango (the enigmatic exotic Dancer). There is something quite funny about Garth Brooks and Alec Baldwin dreaming and pawing at Mango. I had predicted he would be the next Tim Meadows, but considering Night at the Roxbury came out two years before Ladies Man, maybe Tim Meadows was the next Chris Kattan. Regardless, I just can\’t picture Chris doing anything else and be taken seriously, which is reflected by his mostly small parts in various movies and sitcoms since he left SNL. Tim Kazurinsky … (1981-1984) You would know him if you saw him. He was Sweetchuck in the Police Academy movies. Short guy, dark hair, glasses. Very funny guy…I wouldn\’t even hold his Police Academy role against him. David Koechner … (1995-1996) This guy sucked. He was fired after one season, he created characters like Gary MacDonald, Fagan Callow, and Gerald Tibbins. His impressions included Charlie Sheen, Pat Buchanan, and Mike Ditka. I’ve gotten several emails over the years from people who thought this guy was hilarious. The guy plays the same character over and over again not matter what movie or TV show he is in. Somehow he got a Comedy Central show in 2007 showcasing his Gerald Tibbins character. I think the comment of “Worst Show Ever” pretty much sums that up. It lasted 7 episodes. But one man’s trash is another moron’s treasure as proven by this comment: This is the sort of show that could become another American Institution like the The Simpsons or The Daily Show. Naked Trucker (Dave Allen) could use a few more funny lines, but being nude makes up adequately for his being straight man/den mother to David Koechner\’s T-Bones, who might be one of the most brilliantly crafted character on TV these days. What’s even more fascinating is that women rated the show higher on than men. ??? Gary Kroeger … (1982-1985) He looks familiar…but I really don\’t remember him well. Considering his latest gig is announcer for the \”All New Press Your Luck\” (I\’ll rant about that another time), I\’m guessing he isn\’t the most talented guy out there. Julia Louis-Dreyfus .. (1982-1985) We all know Julia as Elaine from Seinfeld. It\’s actually really strange to see her on SNL re-runs. She was very unpolished back then…truly embodied the \”Not Ready For Prime-Time Players\” motto of SNL. Jon Lovitz … (1985-1990) You love him, or you hate him. At the time, I happened to love him. When he played Mr. Mephistopheles, or Michael Dukakis, or his pathological liar character who was married to Morgan Fairchild…yeah, that\’s the ticket! Norm Macdonald … (1993-1998) I think Norm Macdonald might have the least amount of talent of any SNL cast member of all time (wait, you haven\’t gotten down to Colin Quinn yet)! When he did Weekend Update, I honestly didn\’t know if he was drunk, stoned, or both. Strangely enough, Norm is Chevy\’s favorite Weekend Update anchor. Anyway, Norm\’s saving grace is his one good character, Burt Reynolds. Fantastic! Gail Matthius … (1980-1981) Who? It seems Gail has done mostly voice-over work since leaving SNL (The Snorks, Bobby\’s World, Animaniacs, and The Tick to just name a few). Apparently from the very few pictures I came across, she looks like a former girlfriend of mine. I think that counts against her. 😀 Michael McKean … (1994-1995) You probably know Michael best as Lenny of Lenny & Squiggy fame on \”Laverne & Shirley\”. You might also know him as David St. Hubbins of \”Spinal Tap\”… or Gibby from \”Dream On\”, or Mr. Green in \”Clue\”. Either way, when I saw he joined the cast in \’94, I knew it was nothing but trouble. Nothing against the guy, I\’ve enjoyed him in many of his other roles, but a 47-year-old veteran actor joining the cast of SNL? Doesn\’t that seem weird? Mark McKinney … (1995-1997) You might know Mark best from his Kids In The Hall days. He was much better on Kids In The Hall. Whenever I saw him I kept thinking in my head, \”Dude, you\’re on the wrong show!!!\” Tim Meadows … (1991-2000) Tim was on SNL for 10 seasons. You had to feel bad for the guy. He sat and watched as a revolving door of other people came in and then moved on to bigger and better things. Finally, late in his SNL career, he found a character that people seemed to like. So he left SNL to take \”The Ladies Man\” to the big screen. Now he had a better chance of succeeding than the \”Night at the Roxbury\” characters (hell, Massive Head Wound Harry had a better chance than the \”Roxbury\” characters); but you just knew the movie was going to suck. Tim then bounced to \”The Michael Richards Show\”…Oy! Tim just couldn’t catch a break. Since that time he’s done a lot of guest spots and supporting roles in a number of movies. Dennis Miller … (1985-1991) \”What can I tell ya…\” During the late 80\’s Dennis was hip, his Weekend Update was nearly as good as Chevy\’s. After SNL Dennis took the same bit over the HBO and made a nice career out of it. He also had a quick stop over in the MNF booth (I really wish they would have kept him one more year just to hear him and Madden have a conversation…) Madden: \”Ya see, right here he put the hoom-pa move on and BOOM, he\’s in to sack the quarterback!\” Dennis: \”You got that right Maddenuski, it was like Sherman and Pershing running the Pincer Maneuver out there. Know what I mean babe?\” Madden: \”Umm, yeah, but, well, I, who, BUS!, Boom, Turducken, Touchdown\” Dennis: \”Hey Albeeno, I think I broke the Maddenator\” Um, anyway, yeah I thought Dennis was great doing Weekend Update. Finesse Mitchell … (2003-2006) Finesse and Keenan Thompson joined the year after Tracy Morgan left to fill the need to have black actors on the show. They even said so themselves in one of the 2003 episodes. Finesse did a number of impressions, but none of them left much of an impression (no pun intended). He was dropped from the show after the 2006 season. Jay Mohr … (1993-1995) Jay…sucked. The only thing I remember liking him in was his \”Good Morning Brooklyn\” skit. Besides that, he had no game. I liked him even less on his Mohr Sports show (wait, it’s still on the air? And much like Chris Elliott, the guy must have pictures of somebody because he’s now back on TV starring in something called Gary Unmarried. I’ve seen it… don’t bother. Tracy Morgan … (1996-2003) Tracy’s best stuff was when he and Lorne Michaels would randomly appear during the opening monologue skit and Tracy would treat Lorne like his bitch, and I kind of liked Dominican Lou. Good times. I know Wade A. really enjoyed some of Tracy’s later stuff like Brian Fellow\’s Safari Planet, but I was a bigger fan of his Star Jones impersonation from The View. \”I know this because I\’m a Law-yer!\” Tracy left SNL to do movies and co-star in 30 Rock. After some well publicized run-ins with the law it’s hard to tell how much of a character Tracy is playing on 30 Rock. Garrett Morris … (1975-1980) In the old re-runs Garrett just seems to be a very angry man. I think my favorite Garrett Morris skit was one when he traded racial epithets with Dan Aykroyd (I think). He is 1 of 2 cast members from the first 2 years that didn\’t go on to bigger and better things. Eddie Murphy … (1980-1984) If I were ranking the careers of SNL cast members, Eddie would have to be number one. The guy is just so damn funny. He even made the movie \’I Spy\’ funny…ok, that\’s pushing it a bit…nothing could save that movie from Owen Wilson. Anyway, Eddie\’s impersonation of James Brown and his Mr. Robinson character are all-time classics. I also just love his Stevie Wonder impersonation…that skit with him and Joe Piscopo as Frank Sinatra is hilarious! Bill Murray … (1977-1980) When it comes to ranking, it will be hard to

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factor out post-SNL work…especially Bill Murray. He was very funny, but his movies after that are just so much bigger than anything he did on SNL. I especially loved his lounge lizard character. Mike Myers … (1989-1995) In 2003 I wrote: “will he be able to right the Austin Powers ship and make the next one as funny as the first? Or will he ditch the character and find something new.” Well, I was wrong on the first questions, and right on the second. Unfortunately for Mike “The Love Guru” was quite possibly the worst movie of 2008. But Mike’s laughing all the way to the bank thanks to Shrek. Regardless, the guy was damn funny on SNL. Although he become wildly famous for playing Wayne Campbell of Wayne\’s World, and for Linda Richman; I always like him more for his Scottish characters. \”Welcome to All Things Scottish where out motto is: If it\’s not Scottish, it\’s CRAP!\” Seth Meyers … (2001-) He has always primarily been a writer on SNL. His best character to date was his John Kerry impersonation. He seems to have found a home at the Weekend Update anchor desk, taking over that duty (and Head Writer) when Tina Fey left in 2006. Kevin Nealon … (1986-1995) Kevin Nealon did an pretty good job taking over for Dennis Miller on Weekend Update, but appeared in little else. He never was found a character he could do on a regular basis. He did play Franz of \”Hans & Franz\” fame, but I can\’t remember him in much else. I’m still surprised he’s gotten as much post-SNL mileage out of his Subliminal Man character. Laraine Newman … (1975-1980) Along with Garrett Morris, Laraine never made it big after her first 5 years on SNL. She\’s always good in those early skits, but seemed like much more of a role player than a main character. Cheri Oteri … (1995-2000) Before appearing on SNL Cheri appeared… nowhere. Since SNL she has appeared as a bit player in several movies. However she was very funny in her skits, standing out best as a Spartan Cheerleader. In 2003 I had a feeling we had seen the last of Cheri Oteri, and for the most part I was right. A lot of 1 episodes spots in her post 2000 listing. Chris Parnell … (1998-2006) I actually liked Chris Parnell and was shocked to find out he was dumped from the cast after the 2006 season. Maybe because his best impression was Tom Brokaw, who left NBC Nightly News in 2005. Regardless Chris was one of those cast members who was perfect as the everyday guy or dad in their commercial spoofs. Since 2006 Chris has appeared in a few 30 Rock episodes, but according to he’s about to have a bit 2010. Joe Piscopo … (1980-1984) Back in the early 80\’s Joe was huge (literally)! He peaked in 1984 when he appeared in Johnny Dangerously, but as so many actors do, after one movie he thought he was ready to be a star in Hollywood. He left SNL and by the end of 1986 he had pretty much disappeared from the mainstream. I think I liked Joe more for his beer commercials back in the early 80\’s than his SNL characters. Amy Poehler … (2001-2009) So I was wrong when in 2003 I wrote: has this bit of trivia about Amy: \”Was promoted from featured player to full cast member on \’Saturday Night Live\’ (1975) in the middle of her first year on the show (2001-2002). The only other SNL cast member to have this distinction is Eddie Murphy during the 1980-1981 season.\” Something tells me this is NOT a sign of big things to come for her. Although how wrong can I be when her post SNL work consists of an NBC sitcom called Parks and Recreation that by all accounts is on the chopping block. She tried to emulate Tina Fey, and so far it isn’t going well. Randy Quaid … (1985-1986) What? He was on SNL? I don\’t even remember him. Guess that\’s why he ended up in all the Vacation movies… \”Shitter\’s full!\” Colin Quinn … (1995-2000) For the love of god…how did he stay on SNL this long? Seriously? Were they that hard up for someone to do Weekend Update? The guy sucked on Remote Control, he sucks as a stand-up comedian. Maybe you just have to be from Boston to like this guy. His Weekend Update was horrible, with his lame \”That\’s my story and I\’m stickin\’ to it.\” endline. He epitomized the terrible late 90s run for SNL. Gilda Radner … (1975-1980) I know this is going to be blasphemous, but I really didn\’t find Gilda as the funniest woman on SNL. Her geeky high school character (that Bill Murray was always making fun of) was funny, but Rosanna Rosannadanna… I just found annoying. Along with her other frequent Weekend Update character of the old lady whose catch phrase at the end of her misguided rants was \”Ohhh….nevermind.\” In 2003 she led the SNL cast rating on, although thankfully that has changed over the years. She is now number 4 and Phil Hartman now leads that rating. But I digress, I\’m not saying Gilda wasn\’t funny…I\’m just saying I thought others were funnier. Jeff Richards … (2001-2004) Who? You know… the guy who has the distinction of being the only actor to be a cast member on both Saturday Night Live and FOX’s, MADtv. Oh yeah… wait… who? Ann Risley … (1980-1981) Who? I can\’t find anything on her at all. The highlight of her post-SNL work on IMDB seems to be \”El Diablo (1990) (TV) …. Woman #1.\” Ouch. Chris Rock … (1990-1993) Hard to believe the Chris was only on SNL for 4 seasons. His best-known character is probably Nat X. It seems the Chris discovered his angry outspoken self while on the show, and left to base a comedy routine around it. It worked out pretty well for him. Charles Rocket … (1980-1981) He hosted Weekend Update during his one season. Ok, if you are big on video games you might recognize him as the voice of Nym in \”Star Wars: Starfighter\” and \”Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter\”. His SNL claim to fame is that he was fired for using the f-word on air. Tony Rosato … (1981-1982) Wow…after looking at IMDB, I haven\’t even heard (let alone seen) anything he\’s been in since SNL. Maya Rudolph … (2000-2008) Some people think she\’s really hot. Some people think she\’s not. Either way, I liked her work on SNL. She played a wide variety of characters and ethnicities. Her Beyonce was excellent and proved she could really sing. Andy Samburg … (2005-) Andy is best known for his SNL Digital Shorts. Especially Dick in a Box and MotherLover with Justin Timberlake. He sketch work is decent, but the digital shorts is where Andy shines. Adam Sandler … (1991-1995) I think we all know my opinion on this guy. I thought he was funnier on Remote Control when he played \”The Stud Boy\”. Good lord…did you know he\’s going to turn 44 this September!?! Anyway, to me Cajun Man sums up his comedic ability. Simple and stupid. No bonus points given for The Hanukkah song either! Horatio Sanz … (1998-2006) I liked Horatio Sanz. He just seems like a guy you could hang out with and have a good time. He was a guy who is at his best playing a strange characters, and cracking up with Jimmy Fallon during skits. He also got the boot after the 2006 season. Rob Schneider … (1990-1994) It\’s amazing this guy was able to take, \”Hey, the Jim-ster…making copies!\” and turn it into a career. He\’s got that lovably loser aspect to him…which is the only reason that \”The Hot Chick\” could have made as much money as it did. Even though he didn\’t have any other big characters on SNL, Rob was very funny in any role he was given. Molly Shannon … (1995-2001) I don\’t know why…I can\’t explain it but I always thought she was so hot. My friend Jason thinks so too, so at least I\’m not the only freak out there. Molly had several memorable characters, but the best was Mary Katherine Gallagher. The character was so beloved that they made a movie about it. Lately things haven’t been so good for Molly as her show Kath & Kim has been widely panned by critics and the public and was cancelled. Harry Shearer … (1979-1980; 1984-1985) You might know Harry as Derek Smalls of Spinal Tap (funny how all of them either started or ended up on SNL). Harry has a great announcer voice…and a great voice in general (he voices several characters on The Simpsons). I find it odd that he had two separate 1-year stints on SNL. Martin Short … (1984-1985) Color me surprised…but on the SNL cast rating, Marty is number 5 behind Gilda Radner. Pretty good for a guy who was on for one season. Marty had a big following going into SNL from his SCTV days…so many people were already familiar with Ed Grimley, Jackie Rodgers Jr., and his Jerry Lewis impersonation. SNL gave him the opportunity to take those well-polished characters to a larger audience. One of my favorite characters was the chain smoking, sweating, nervous lawyer (Nathan Therm) being interviewed by Mike Wallace (brilliantly played by Harry Shearer). Although he was only on for one season, you can\’t deny the impact he had on America. Hell, Ed Grimley even got his own Saturday morning cartoon show! David Spade … (1991-1996) You know, at the time he was on SNL, I thought he was great. Watching the re-runs, I find him pretty annoying. He was best known for his Hollywood Minute on Weekend Update when he ripped on celebrities…I still think Eddie Murphy would kick his ass if given the chance. At least David was smart enough to understand he wasn\’t marquee material…he played second banana to Chris Farley in their movies, and was part of an ensemble cast in \”Just Shoot Me\”. In recent years he’s become the Scott Baio of the 2000s by dating women way out of his league. Pamela Stephenson … (1984-1985) She must be attractive since one of her IMDB credits is host of an Australian TV show called \”Sex\”. With some further digging it turns out she married comedian Billy Connelly and is now a psychotherapist in L.A.; like L.A. needed another psychotherapist. Jason Sudeikis … (2004-) Joined late in the 2004 season. He is very similar to Chris Parnell in that he fits the everyday man/dad role well, and does a great job in the commercial spoofs. He doesn’t have many stand out characters, but does a great job in every skit he is in. Julia Sweeney … (1990-1994) I thought Julia Sweeney was pretty funny. She is best known for her Pat character that spawned (surprise) a movie cleverly titled, \”It\’s Pat!\”; but that was really all she had. Terry Sweeney … (1985-1986) Thankfully I found a website to help me out with this one: \”SNL\’s only openly gay cast member, Terry\’s first sketch had him playing a gay man, and most of his roles throughout the season too were gay related. Most of his impressions were of women too, including Nancy Reagan, Joan Collins, and Joan Rivers. Since then, we believed he locked himself in a shed.\” Ouch, that seemed a little harsh. I vaguely remember this guy. He was mostly a writer for the show before his one year in front of the camera. Keenan Thompson … (2003-) The other black guy who joined the show in 2003 who also fills out the fat guy role, and the role of the guy who isn’t afraid to dress like a woman. That might explain why he is still on SNL after 7 seasons. Not that Keenan isn’t funny, he’s just doesn’t stand out when he isn’t dressed up as a woman. Danitra Vance … (1985-1986) Sadly: \”SNL\’s first female black cast member, Danitra played a small role in the cast. She created her unique character, Cabrini Green Jackson. She died in 1994 of cancer.\” Nancy Walls … (1995-1996) Nancy has no entries prior to SNL on IMDB. I remember her better from a year she spent on Comedy Central\’s \”The Daily Show\” and for being Steve Carell’s wife. She seems to have put her career on hold to be married and raise children. To each his (or her) own. Kristin Wiig … (2005-) Joined Mid season in 2005. I thought she was vastly underrated for many years, and then suddenly she was vastly overrated. Much in the same way Molly Shannon was. Kristin is currently the only female cast member (the other women are only featured players). Wow…are you still with me? After making it through 90 cast members, I\’m not sure where to begin. Since we live in America, we\’ll do what comes naturally, we\’ll rank everyone. Keep in mind these rankings are based on SNL performances only. Let\’s start with the worst cast members (Number 1 being the absolute worst): 10. Melanie Hutsell – Every character was an annoying valley girl. 9. Jim Breuer – I hated Goat Boy. It just suck-eeeee-awwww-ucked. 8. Mark McKinney – Much better on Kids In The Hall. 7. Michael McKean – Much better in everything else he\’s ever been in. 6. David Koechner – I know some folks like his Gerald Tibbins character, but I can’t find anything remotely funny or redeeming about it. 5. Jimmy Fallon – Acted like a 12 year old on SNL, how he became the host of Late Night is beyond me. Lorne Michaels must be the most powerful man in the comedy business. 4. Jay Mohr – This guy is almost as annoying as Jim Rome. Have you seen Gary Unmarried? Oy! 3. Colin Quinn – I still don\’t know how he even got on SNL, especially at age 36. 2. Gilbert Gottfried – I don\’t even need to see him in any re-runs, I know he sucked. and… 1. Anthony Michael Hall – SNL was a terrible fit for him. He was the centerpiece of the catastrophic \’85-\’86 season. Now for the 10 best: 10. Nora Dunn – \”Welcome to the Pat Stevens show, I\’m your host…Pat Stevens.\” 9. Will Ferrell – The only reason I watched SNL for many years. \”Mr. Reynolds, I hate you.\” 8. Dan Aykroyd – \”Jane you ignorant slut!\” 7. Chevy Chase – He created Weekend Update, and was SNL\’s first breakout star. 6. Bill Murray – \”Star Wars, nothing but Star Wars, if only you could bar wars, let this one stay…\” 5. Dana Carvey – How could I forget to mention the Church Lady? 4. Eddie Murphy – Buckwheat, Gumby, Velvet Jones, Mr. Robinson, Sammy Davis Jr., Bill Cosby, Stevie Wonder, and James Brown! 3. Martin Short – Imagine his SNL legacy if he had stayed more than just one season. 2. Mike Myers – There isn\’t anyone else who I personally have stolen more comedy from on SNL than Mike (\”CRAP!\”) and… 1. Phil Hartman – Considered the comedic genius of SNL. Phil was an excellent voice-over actor, a versatile sketch performer and had over 70 impressions in his repertoire. The top 3 worst seasons: Number 3: This year (\’02-\’03). I\’ll be honest, I didn’t see too many shows that year, but I did see the Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) show twice. It was just a train wreck of a season but it did lay the groundwork for yet another revival of SNL starting in 2003.

 CAST MEMBERS FEATURED PLAYERS ---------------------------------------- Rachel Dratch Fred Armisen Jimmy Fallon Dean Edwards Tina Fey Will Forte Darrell Hammond Seth Meyers Chris Kattan Jeff Richards Tracy Morgan Chris Parnell Amy Poehler Maya Rudolph Horatio Sanz 

Number 2: The \’94-\’95 cast. The stage was set the previous year when Lorne Michaels saw the show starting to sink, and brought in Michael McKean. He\’d brought in veterans before to stabilize the show (like bringing in Martin Short and Billy Crystal after Eddie Murphy left the show in \’84), but this year really went in the toilet with the additions of Morweena Banks, Mark McKinney, and the departures of Phil Hartman, Julia Sweeney, and the mid-season departures of Janeanne Garafolo and Mike Myers. Nine of the thirteen cast members from the \’94-\’95 season were fired or left. To add insult to injury, Deion Sanders actually hosted once this season.

 REGULAR CAST FEATURED PLAYERS -------------------------------------------- Morwenna Banks Al Franken Ellen Cleghorne Laura Kightlinger Chris Elliott Jay Mohr Chris Farley Molly Shannon Janeanne Garafolo Norm MacDonald Michael McKean Mark McKinney Tim Meadows Mike Myers Kevin Nealon Adam Sandler David Spade 

Number 1: Has to be \’85-\’86 with the cast of:

 REGULAR CAST FEATURED PLAYERS -------------------------------------------- Joan Cusack A. Whitney Brown Robert Downey Jr. Don Novello Nora Dunn Dan Vitale Anthony Michael Hall Damon Wayans Jon Lovitz Dennis Miller Randy Quaid Terry Sweeney Danitra Vance 

The entire cast was brand new to SNL (except for Don Novello who is better known as Father Guido Sarducci). Only three of the cast members (and A. Whitney Brown) would be around the next year. Now finally, the top 3 best seasons of all time: Number 3: The \’77-\’78 season was great. It got a lot of help from the hosts that year (Buck Henry (twice), Steve Martin (three times), Chevy Chase, Hugh Hefner, and O.J. Simpson. This season also featured Al Franken in front of the camera.

 REGULAR CAST FEATURED PLAYERS -------------------------------------------- Dan Aykroyd Tom Davis John Belushi Al Franken Jane Curtin Michael O\'Donoghue Garrett Morris Bill Murray Laraine Newman Gilda Radner 

Number 2: The \’89-\’90 season. It was the 4th season that all 8 cast members had been together. They were a well-oiled comedy machine. It was also Mike Myers second year as a Featured player and with a total cast of only 10, we saw a lot of him.

 REGULAR CAST FEATURED PLAYERS -------------------------------------------- Dana Carvey A. Whitney Brown Nora Dunn Mike Myers Phil Hartman Jan Hooks Victoria Jackson Jon Lovitz Dennis Miller Kevin Nealon 

Number 1: The \’90-\’91 season. This season\’s total cast (Cast Members and Featured Players) reads like a Who\’s Who. It was a powerhouse of 16 actors, with all of them had outstanding SNL careers.

 REGULAR CAST FEATURED PLAYERS -------------------------------------------- Dana Carvey A. Whitney Brown Phil Hartman Chris Farley Jan Hooks Tim Meadows Victoria Jackson Mike Myers Jon Lovitz Chris Rock Dennis Miller Adam Sandler Kevin Nealon Rob Schneider David Spade Julia Sweeney 

For your own reference and convenience I\’ve downloaded an SNL Guide that lists out each year and hosts. Agree? Disagree? Comment below!







3 responses to “The Best and Worst of Saturday Night Live”

  1. Mark Avatar

    A comprehensive and clever update of your previous post.
    I agree Anthony Michael Hall was ill suited but I’d rank him further back than the forgettable performances of Collin Quin and the excruciatingly annoying Gilbert Gottfried.
    Lorne Michaels is one of the most powerful Canadians in the comedy business – Canada’s number one export is people from the comedy and music industry.
    Phil Hartman will always be the quintessential SNLer (Give it to me straight!) and he teemed well with John Lovitz – I’m in the love camp there. He was also the best guest voice/character the Simpsons ever had or will ever have (another show in sore decline), practically a regular.
    Even though there have been better seasons I still have a soft spot for the 1st season (’75) when it truly was live and not ready for prime time.

  2. artho Avatar

    hankfully I found a website to help me out with this one: “SNL’s only openly gay cast member, Terry’s first sketch had him playing a gay man, and most of his roles throughout the season too were gay related. Most of his impressions were of women too, including Nancy Reagan, Joan Collins, and Joan Rivers. Since then, we believed he locked himself in a shed.” Ouch, that seemed a little harsh. I vaguely remember this guy. He was mostly a writer for the show before his one year in front of the camera.
    nike earth

  3. gimelgort Avatar

    Will Ferrell? True, he is almost as funny as my Gramma’s rectal cancer. I will come up with a Unified Field Theory before I ever understand his popularity. Next to him, that tumor smells like Chanel #5. Good call on Sandler though. Blecchhh.

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