Saturday Night Live Cast Members


Saturday Night Live is one of my favorite shows of all time, and has become sort of a weekly touchstone for me.  During the writers’ strike of 07-08, there were other shows that were better, but SNL is probably the one I missed the most.

I’m also of the (seemingly rare) opinion that it’s better than it’s ever been.  I think the recent decade was by far the strongest era for the show.  People love to talk about how it isn’t as good as it used to be, but I think this is just a case of selective memory.  It’s easy to talk about how great the original cast was or how hilarious the early nineties were when you are only remembering your seven or eight favorite sketches.  Go back and watch the full episodes sometime and let me know what you think.

So, a few caveats before we begin.  I have seen a lot of SNL, from every era, but I don’t claim to have seen, or to remember, every single sketch they’ve ever done.  I’m particularly weak in the mid-1980s.  Also, as I’ve said, the last decade has been my favorite, and it might seem like my list is weighted a little too much towards these cast members.  But that’s why I say these are my favorites, and not the best.  Lastly, this is not a complete list, but I tried to include any cast member who had any real impact on my enjoyment of the show over the years, for better or worse.  Apologies to Ellen Cleghorne, Jerry Minor, and Nora Dunn.  I remember all of you, but I don’t have much to say about you.

So, that said, let’s get started.  Here they are, my sixty favorite Saturday Night Live cast members of all time.

60) Molly Shannon (1995 – 2001)

Oh, late-90s SNL.  Other than Will Ferrell, it was all so terrible.  I always particularly disliked Molly Shannon.  All of her characters were sort of the same, and she didn’t seem talented so much as loud.

59) Victoria Jackson (1986 – 1992)

I thought I remembered hearing something about how Victoria Jackson was a crazy person now, and a quick trip to her Wikipedia page revealed that she’s a Tea Partier.  Like a go on Fox News and say Obama is aspiring to be Fidel Castro Tea Partier.  Here’s another illuminating bit of information from Wikipedia: “Raised by devout Christian parents in a home without a television, she was trained in gymnastics by her father from ages 5 to 18.”  Hmm.

Anyway, I don’t remember anything she did being particularly funny, and her high-pitched voice is annoying.  Add that to “crazy” and she winds up at number 59.

58) Julia Sweeney (1990 – 1994)

She was kind of a workmanlike, complimentary cast member who did her job well enough that she eventually broke out with her “Pat” character.  Was It’s Pat the SNL movie headlined by the least famous cast member?  Al Franken is a senator now, so it can’t be Stuart Saves His Family.  I guess the other two nominees would have to be The Ladies Man with Tim Meadows and the upcoming MacGruber with Will Forte.  I’m going to go with It’s Pat.  No one knows who Julia Sweeney is.

57) Cheri Oteri (1995 – 2000)

Another late-90s cast member that seemingly, and inexplicably, has lots of fans.  People like those cheerleader sketches!  There isn’t enough content there for one sketch, let alone SEVENTEEN.  Like Molly Shannon, all of her characters are sort of the same.  And they are all annoying.

56) Rob Schneider (1990 – 1994)

I sort of suspect that Rob Schneider is the Emeril Lagasse of SNL.  Like, everybody thinks of him as an incredibly annoying loudmouth, and then you actually watch him, and he’s sort of subdued and not nearly as annoying as you expected.  But neither of them really brings a whole lot to the table.  What is his SNL legacy?  The Richmeister?  “Makin’ Copies”?  Are those the same character?

55) Chris Kattan (1996 – 2003)

I broke Molly, Cheri and Chris up so this list wouldn’t be so late-90s heavy at the end, but really the three of them are the worst.  Kattan is the best of the three, because at least his characters showed some variety.  I just didn’t particularly like any of them.

54) Casey Wilson (2008 – 2009)

Johanna and I were pretty down on Casey Wilson from the moment she started, and I feel sort of bad about that in retrospect.  She always seemed sort of amateurish, but maybe she was just working out some beginner’s issues.  And she didn’t have much to work with.  Bill Simmons was doing a podcast with Seth Meyers once and speculated that if Tina Fey hadn’t wanted to come back to do Sarah Palin, Wilson could have done it and had a completely different career.  Lorne Michaels has basically said that Kristen Wiig was the back-up plan, though, so I guess that’s not worth wondering about.

53) Michaela Watkins (2008 – 2009)

I never liked her during her short tenure, for some reason, but in retrospect she was really pretty good and should have been given a longer run.  She only got 15 episodes.  She was solid as Arianna Huffington and a better Hoda Kotb than Jenny Slate.

52) David Koechner (1995 – 1996)

I bumped Koechner up a few notches because he was funny in so many things in his post-SNL career, which is sort of hypocritical of me, because there are people I didn’t even rank that had huge non-SNL careers.  Oh, well.  None of these lists really make sense.  Koechner was a key part of the classic Bill Brasky sketches.

51) Finesse Mitchell (2003 – 2006)

It seemed like half of the sketches that Mitchell was in were just extended jokes about how he was “the other black guy,” after Kenan, which is a shame, and a joke that the SNL writers should not be as comfortable making as they are.  The show is rightly criticized for being too white.  They have Fred Armisen playing Obama and David Paterson.  That said, there are quite a few black stand-ups and improv actors out there that are funnier than Finesse Mitchell.  I’m kind of surprised he hung on as long as he did.

50) Laraine Newman (1975 – 1980)

She seems to have been pretty much buried by the rest of the very talented, camera-hoggish original cast.  As one of only three women in a small group she still had to carry a lot of weight.

49) Rob Riggle (2004 – 2005)

He really didn’t get a chance to shine until he started working at The Daily Show.  This is likely higher than he deserves, but I have a soft spot for the guy and I’m laughing thinking about him as Nigel, the palace guard in charge of keeping Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles separated.  I can’t find the clip, unfortunately.

48) Julia Louis Dreyfus (1982 – 1985)

Wow, now that I’m taking another look at this list, I seem to have included a lot of people based at least somewhat on non-SNL stuff.  I’ve enjoyed her in the clips and repeats I’ve seen her in, and she does well as a host.

47) Jenny Slate (2009 – present)

Let’s kick off four consecutive current cast members that I have high hopes for with Ms. Slate.  I was worried she would be benched after she accidentally dropped an f-bomb in her first episode, but she’s actually been getting quite a bit to do.  None of it has really jumped out at me in the way some of her pre-SNL stuff did, but I’m looking forward to her sticking around.

46) Nasim Pedrad (2009 – present)

Speaking of getting quite a bit to do, I’m shocked by how much screen time Nasim Pedrad has been getting in her first season.  The writers must really like her.

45) Abby Elliott (2008 – present)

She hasn’t done as much or been as funny as the two women at 46 and 47, and one suspects that she might not have gotten the gig if her father weren’t Chris Elliott, but she gets to be here at 45 because I have a crush on her.  Plus, she survived her first season without having made much of an impact, so Lorne must see something in her.

44) Bobby Moynihan (2008 – present)

He seems like he’s got a lot of talent and he’s already got a few smallish recurring characters going.  He’s building up some momentum.  I’m a big fan of his Pizzeria Uno waiter.

43) Joe Piscopo (1980 – 1984)

It’s sort of a shame that in all of the clips Hulu has of Piscopo on SNL, he’s basically playing a straight man second banana to an Eddie Murphy character.  They can’t put up one of his Frank Sinatra sketches?

42) Ana Gasteyer (1996 – 2002)

Gasteyer, to me, was head and shoulders above the rest of the late-90s women, although that’s not really saying much, and it’s not getting her any higher on the list than number 42.  I posted the famous “Delicious Dish” sketch with Alec Baldwin, but I always thought she was funnier as Martha Stewart.

41) Jim Breuer (1995 – 1998)

Breuer is sort of a joke now, but I loved him at the time.  Granted, I was fourteen.  I’m guessing most people only really remember Goat Boy, but I thought he was good as Joe Pesci, and funny in his walk-ons as the older brother in the “Goth Talk” sketches.  No traces of his SNL career exist on Hulu.

40) Garrett Morris (1975 – 1980)

He is about five spots higher than he should be because I’m guessing he had to put up with not having much written for him and not being invited to the after-show parties by Chevy Chase.  Also, the “News for the Hard of Hearing” bit is a classic.

39) Dennis Miller (1985 – 1991)

Miller has become harder to take seriously as he has moved further to the right, politically.  He’s still somewhat liberal on social issues, so he’s not exactly in Victoria Jackson territory.  He’s not funny anymore, though, so it’s easy to forget that he was good on Weekend Update, and people used to think he was hilarious as a stand-up.

38) Rachel Dratch (1999 – 2006)

Rachel Dratch was sort of drowning in a deep pool of female talent during her time on SNL.  The first half of the Aughts was the strongest period for women on SNL ever.  She never had a chance to really stand out, but she made her mark with some recurring characters, most notably Debbie Downer.  From what I’ve read, Tina Fey tried to get her on 30 Rock, but the network insisted on Jane Krakowski.

37) Colin Quinn (1995 – 2000)

Most notable for anchoring Weekend Update, he is also my least favorite Weekend Update anchor (Why does he rank ahead of Dennis Miller on the list, then?  Don’t ask questions about the logic of my lists!).  I still think he did a pretty good job, though.  Kind of surprisingly, all of the Weekend Update anchors that have held the position for any significant period of time have been good.  That might be worth its own ranked list eventually.

36) Jane Curtain (1975 – 1980)

She seemed too dignified and was never really goofy enough to be absolutely hilarious in sketches, but she held her own, and was great on Weekend Update.  She was also the target of the famous “Jane, you ignorant slut” line.

35) Chris Rock (1990 – 1993)

As evidenced by both his SNL career and his movie career, Chris Rock is much better at stand-up comedy than he is at playing characters.  And he supposedly had a hard time getting anyone to write anything for him.  But he was too naturally funny to blend into the background, and shined in his limited time, most notably as Nat X and in guest spots on Weekend Update.

34) Al Franken (1979 – 1980, 1986 – 1995)

That’s Senator Al Franken to you.  His legacy at SNL may be more tied to his role as a writer than a performer; he was there, with his partner Tom Davis, from the very beginning.  Something I didn’t know until I researched this list: he left SNL in 1995 because Norm MacDonald was chosen to anchor Weekend Update instead of him.

33) Jon Lovitz (1985 – 1990)

I think Lovitz really tarnished his image in people’s minds by replacing Phil Hartman in Newsradio.  I didn’t mind him, personally, but I just don’t think the fans were ready.  I loved him on The Critic, and I think people forget how funny he was on Saturday Night Live.

He was famously the only cast member Lorne Michaels wanted to save in the “Studio Fire” cliffhanger ending to the 1985-86 season.  The cliffhanger was not just serving a comedic purpose, though, as NBC did briefly cancel the show.  It ended up getting a second (third?) chance and came back with a strong cast that included Lovitz, Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, and Kevin Nealon.  The cliffhanger sketch sort of seems like the turning point between old SNL and new SNL.  I wish it were on Hulu.

32) Chris Parnell (1998 – 2006)

Parnell is famously the only cast member to be fired twice by Lorne Michaels, both times for budgetary reasons.  He cemented his place in SNL history with his participation in the “Lazy Sunday” video.  If you haven’t seen the live version from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon that I’ve included here, you should definitely check it out.

31) Kevin Nealon (1986 – 1995)

Johanna and I have a running joke that dates back, like, five years now, about Kevin Nealon.  At some point she said something along the lines of “What is Kevin Nealon up to?  I haven’t seen him in forever. I always liked him.”  Literally that day we started seeing him everywhere.  Weeds started to blow up, and he started to appear in/on every talk show/magazine/podcast/etc. that we watched/read/listened to/etc.  And every time we saw/read about/heard him we said “Whatever happened to Kevin Nealon?”  The joke still holds up.  For us, at least.

30) Tim Meadows (1991 – 2000)

Deserves to be in the top thirty based solely on tenure; believe it or not, he’s the second longest serving cast member ever (the longest tenure belongs to a cast member down the list a bit at number ten).  He did a lot of really funny, if not totally memorable, things in his time on the show.  It almost feels like they gave him the movie The Ladies Man as sort of a reward for loyalty.

29) Seth Meyers (2001 – present)

He performed admirably filling Tina Fey’s shoes as both head writer and Weekend Update cohost after her departure in 2006, no easy task.  He’s been on The BS Report, Bill Simmons’ podcast, three or four times, and is always really interesting and surprisingly candid about hosts that he has and hasn’t enjoyed and other behind the scenes stuff.  On what I believe was his first appearance on the podcast he mentioned that they were working on a website for the show which would feature not only an expanded selection of clips, but also clips from the read-throughs and dress rehearsals.  I would have eaten that up.  It’s unfortunate that either NBC or Lorne Michaels seems to have put the kibosh on it and it never came to fruition.

28) Jason Sudeikis (2005 – present)

Johanna thinks he should be much higher, but I’m pretty sure she just has a crush on him.  He’s the type of cast member that is sort of the same in every sketch, but still somehow cracks me up every time.  In his case he just lowers his voice a bit and acts like a semi-clueless blowhard.  But it works.

27) Bill Murray (1977 – 1980)

Murray joined the cast during the second season, basically as a replacement for Chevy Chase.  I’m sitting here remembering a lot of funny stuff that Murray did on SNL, and I’m thinking I probably should have had him higher, but worried that I was overrating him based on the rest of his career and overcompensated in these rankings.  I’m obviously over-thinking this stuff.

26) Dana Carvey (1986 – 1993)

I absolutely loved Dana Carvey growing up, but a lot of his stuff really has not aged well.  There are not a lot of laughs to be found in the “Church Lady” sketches any more.  But his H.W. is one of the iconic SNL impressions, and he was super-versatile.

25) David Spade (1990 – 1996)

He certainly had his share of one-dimensional, early-90s SNL moments (see the “Buh-bye” flight attendant), but I always enjoyed his presence.  And his “Hollywood Minute” bits on Weekend Update sort of invented celebrity snark.  You’re welcome, TMZ.

24) Gilda Radner (1975 – 1980)

Watching repeats of the early years when I was younger, I somehow knew that Gilda Radner had died, and I knew she had dealt with an eating disorder.  So I guess I just assumed she had died right after she left the show due to complications from her eating disorder.  Like Karen Carpenter or something.  I only found out a few years ago that she actually died of cancer, and not until 1989.  And I didn’t know until writing this very list that she was married to Gene Wilder for the last five years of her life.  Keep this in mind when reading this stuff; I make no claims to be any sort of expert.

23) Dan Aykroyd (1975 – 1979)

I’m guessing that Aykroyd is the most famous SNL cast member that still consistently has him last name spelled incorrectly.  I had to double check.

Anyway, I love Aykroyd’s impressions, and I love The Blues Brothers (although, watching it today, they could probably trim 20-30 minutes of fat off of it), but what I really love about Aykroyd is how he enjoys coming back and doing impressions on the show every once in a while.  If only more of the iconic cast members felt this way.  I really think it would help Eddie Murphy’s career, for instance, to do a surprise pop-in every once in a while.

22) Will Forte (2002 – present)

I really love SNL cast members that seem like such bizarre human beings that one can’t picture them doing anything other than being on SNL (lots of these in the current cast; see #17, and perhaps the ultimate example, #11).  Forte is one of these guys.  I can’t picture him holding down an office job because I’m guessing he would decide to spend the whole day talking in a weird voice like four days in.

21) Chevy Chase (1975 – 1976)

This might be reverse Bill Murray here; I think I’m giving too much weight to Chase on SNL to make up for his somewhat disappointing post-SNL career.  That said, he has a pretty impressive resume:

— He was an original cast member

— He said “Live from New York, its Saturday Night!” for every first season episode except for one.

— He created Weekend Update.

— He began the SNL tradition of presidential impressions.  Although I guess that was sort of inevitably going to happen, with or without him.

Not bad.  It’s a shame he didn’t stay longer.

20) Adam Sandler (1991 – 1995)

Sandler is sort of a predecessor to Andy Samberg, now that I think about it.  He did the music stuff, he had a lot of weird Weekend Update appearances, and he maybe wasn’t taken as seriously as he should have been at the time.  And they’re both huge with college kids.  Honestly, I think Sandler was such a weirdo and his comedy was so seemingly broad that he really doesn’t get as much credit as he deserves.  And his stuff holds up better than almost anything else from his era of the show.  That said, I still have him ranked behind Kenan Thompson.

19) Kenan Thompson (2003 – present)

Kenan came on the show with significant roadblocks between him and success.  When you’re mostly known for starring in shows on Nickelodeon and the movie Good Burger, you’re going to have trouble winning over the SNL comedy nerds.  He seems determined to win fans through attrition.  Johanna and I have always loved him, and I think he’s finally achieved some comedic legitimacy as the host of “What Up With That.”  Those sketches have been the highlight of the season.

18) Horatio Sanz (1998 – 2006)

The constant giggling used to annoy me, but seeing it in the recent Saturday Night Live in the 2000s documentary made me realize that I actually miss it.  Plus he seems to be at least a secondary character in a lot of my favorite sketches from his years on the show.  Also, his line “I’m strong, like an animal” from one of Rachel Dratch and Jimmy Fallon’s “Sully and Denise” sketches is one of my favorite SNL lines of all time.  Unfortunately, not available on Hulu.

17) Bill Hader (2005 – present)

Incredibly valuable to the show and maybe the most underrated current cast member.  I’m hard-pressed to think of anything he’s done that I really don’t like.  The Vinny Vedecci sketches are all great, and while Darrell Hammond’s impressions might be better, Hader’s are generally funnier, in my opinion.

16) Jimmy Fallon (1998 – 2004)

It might be a surprise that he ranks this high, and for a long time even I would have argued with this placement.  For the entirety of Jimmy Fallon’s career on SNL, I didn’t think that much of him.  I thought he was pretty good on Weekend Update, and not bringing much to the table in the sketches.  Then I saw his “Best of” and I was reminded of how many great sketches he had been in.  I was pretty blown away.  He really had surprising range.

15) John Belushi (1975 – 1979)

Chris Farley gets compared to John Belushi a lot, because they were both fat and died young, but they are actually pretty different as comedians.  They were both physical comedians, but Belushi was, like, eyebrow physical, and Farley was belly-flop physical.  Big difference.  Also, Belushi was fat, but Farley was FAT.

14) Mike Myers (1989 – 1995)

I’m guessing his legacy at this point will be bad Austin Powers impressions and the flame-out of The Love Guru, but he was really the Will Ferrell of his time at SNL.  He was in tons of recurring sketches and carried a lot of episodes.  “Coffee Talk,” “Sprockets,” “Wayne’s World.”  The success of the Wayne’s World movie may be to blame for a lot of bad Nineties SNL movies, but it also gave us one of my favorite movie quotes ever: “A gun rack?  A gun rack.  I don’t even own a gun, let alone many guns that would necessitate an entire rack.”

13) Norm MacDonald (1993 – 1998)

Norm MacDonald is like one of those guys you knew in high school that was constantly acting weird, and you thought he was hilarious, but he just refused to break character, and it eventually got annoying, and you went off to college and didn’t really keep in touch, because what’s the point, he’s always in character?  And then you go back to your hometown and run into him and have a good time because he’s grown out of it and now he’s just a normal, funny guy.  Except Norm MacDonald never grew out of it.  He’s just a crazy person.  I’ve heard him interviewed recently, and he’s even weirder now than he used to be.  God bless him.

12) Maya Rudolph (2000 – 2007)

Wow, does this show miss Maya Rudolph.  They had her playing every non-white female character on the show.  And some white ones, too.  Who else can do great impressions of both Condoleezza Rice and Donatella Versace?

11) Fred Armisen (2002 – present)

As mentioned above, here is someone that could hold no occupation outside of sketch comedy.  Fred Armisen was born to be on SNL.  He’s right out on the edge of weirdness that this show can handle sometimes, but it’s a better show because of it.  And I think he gets better all the time; he seems more confident than he used to be.  That said, they really need to get someone else to do the Obama impression.  Armisen is stuck between actually being able to do it and not even trying (like Chase’s Gerald Ford).

10) Darrell Hammond (1995 – 2009)

He is supposedly not on the show anymore, but he keeps showing up.  I think I actually tend to underrate Darrell Hammond because he blended so well into the flow of the show.  So I included clips of three of my favorite impressions of his here to remind myself how great he was.  These, combined with his status as longest-tenured cast member ever, earn him a spot in the top ten.

9) Tracy Morgan (1996 – 2003)

I loved Tracy Morgan on SNL, and I was ecstatic to have him back in my life with 30 Rock.  He doesn’t really lose himself in his characters, but he’s twice as funny as most people when he’s just being himself.  That said, I even think he deserves more credit for his characters.  I’ll put his top three of Brian Fellow, Astronaut Jones, and Woodrow the Bum up against almost anyone else’s.  OK, that might be a little too bold of a statement, but I really liked those characters.

8 ) Tina Fey (2000 – 2006)

She was SNL’s first (and only) female head writer, and I think she pretty much deserves credit for breathing life into the show and bringing it into the modern world of comedy.  The show was really running on fumes there for a while, and I think it would have had a hard time weathering the loss of Will Ferrell without her.  It was also the perfect time to have a female head writer, considering that it was the strongest group of women cast members ever.  Or were the women so strong because there was a great female head writer?  I’ve never thought about that possibility before.  Maybe I’m over-thinking the gender politics here.

7) Chris Farley (1990 – 1995)

I think one of the reasons Chris Farley was so funny was that his energy and physicality didn’t match his physique.  Basically, nothing’s funnier than an agile, hyped-up fat guy.  He also could take on completely different attitudes effortlessly.  The clip above shows him soft-spoken and shy, and the clip below shows him at his most disheveled, beet-reddest.  One’s memory of him is really influenced by which character of his one has seen most recently, I think.

6) Andy Samberg (2005 – present)

I think Samberg is completely hilarious in almost every sketch he’s in, and could probably earn a spot this high based on that talent alone, but his real contribution to the show is obviously the Digital Short.  He took what Tina Fey did to change the tone of the show and expanded on it.  Tina Fey made SNL good again; Andy Samberg made it relevant again.  Consider this: “Lazy Sunday” basically made YouTube.  In the weeks after it showed up on the sight, YouTube’s traffic increased 83%.  That’s crazy.  After “Dick in a Box” aired, it was all anyone at the accounting firm where I worked at the time was talking about.  I guarantee a lot of these people had not been watching Saturday Night Live previously.

5) Eddie Murphy (1980 – 1984)

Watching these old clips (and having seen his old stand-up), I really cannot understand how he became the comedian he is today.  This isn’t a case just of someone making bad career decisions, like Chevy Chase; he seems like a completely different person.  He was so sublimely, inherently funny, and he just felt so relevant; these old clips still feel sort of cutting-edge.  Now he’s making Norbit.

I have a theory that something happened to both him and Michael Jackson on the set of the “Remember the Time” video.  Something Paul-is-dead-esque, like there was an explosion, they were both killed, and they were replaced by lookalikes.  That seems possible, right?

4) Kristen Wiig (2005 – present)

Kristen Wiig was a cast member where I knew right away how good she was going to be.  I think that’s the way it is with the best of them.  They don’t need to grow on you; the talent is obvious right out of the gate.  She really kept the show going after the loss of Tina Fey in 2006, Maya Rudolph in 2007, and Amy Poehler in 2008.  That’s three big sets of shoes to fill.  I think it ultimately led the writers to rely too heavily on her; we really don’t need another “Target Lady” sketch, or, heaven forbid, another “Gilly.”  It also led to what I think might be the first case of a woman really being the sole, dominant cast member on the show for a period of time.

3) Phil Hartman (1986 – 1994)

Phil Hartman was unbelievably versatile, and seemed to make every sketch he was in better.  He’s the cast member that is generally mentioned by his contemporaries as the most talented person they worked with.  He was a big part of three of my favorite shows of all time, Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, and NewsRadio.  The saddest of the many SNL deaths, in my opinion.

2) Amy Poehler (2001 – 2008)

Amy Poehler is here at number two, but she is probably the cast member that made me the happiest in the history of the show.  She always seemed to be having more fun than everyone else, and carried entire episodes with her exuberance alone.  Nothing is better than an Amy Poehler half-laugh after a good Weekend Update joke.

How perfect is it that she is married to Will Arnett?  I want to go to Thanksgiving dinner at their house (although I guess he’s Canadian, so who knows when they celebrate it).  If they ever get divorced, it will seriously bum me out.

1) Will Ferrell (1995 – 2002)

He’s one of the most charismatic SNL cast members of all time.  Someone (I think it was Seth Meyers) was talking about Ferrell’s Bush impression on the recent primetime Saturday Night Live in the 2000s primetime documentary, and he said that when people said they wanted to get a beer with George W. Bush, what they really wanted was to get a beer with Will Ferrell’s George W. Bush.  Think about that; maybe SNL really did have an effect on an election.

Ferrell is one of the only performers (as opposed to writers) who managed to completely change the tone of the entire show.  His presence affected sketches he wasn’t even in.  I used to think that it was a shame that Ferrell was on the show during one of my least-favorite eras, but now I realize that’s probably why he got to be so great.  Had the cast around him been as talented as he was, he would have been fighting for screen time and wouldn’t have been able to put his thumbprint on the show.  So maybe I owe Cheri Oteri, Chris Kattan, and Molly Shannon a belated thank you.

Cast members not ranked: Peter Aykroyd (1979 – 1980), Morwenna Banks (1995), Jim Belushi (1983 – 1985), A. Whitney Brown (1985 – 1991), Beth Cahill (1991 – 1992), Ellen Cleghorne (1991 – 1995), George Coe (1975), Billy Crystal (1984 – 1985), Joan Cusack (1985 – 1986), Tom Davis (1979 – 1980), Denny Dillon (1980 – 1981), Jim Downey (1979 – 1980), Robert Downey, Jr. (1985 – 1986), Brian Doyle-Murray (1979 – 1982), Robin Duke (1981 – 1984), Nora Dunn (1985 – 1990), Christine Ebersole (1981 – 1982), Dean Edwards (2001 – 2003), Chris Elliott (1994 – 1995), Siobhan Fallon (1991 – 1992), Janeane Garafalo (1994 – 1995), Gilbert Gottfried (1980 – 1981), Mary Gross (1981 – 1985), Christopher Guest (1984 – 1985), Anthony Michael Hall (1985 – 1986), Brad Hall (1982 – 1984), Rich Hall (1984 – 1985), Jan Hooks (1986 – 1991), Yvonne Hudson (1980 – 1981), Melanie Hutsell (1991 – 1994), Tim Kazurinsky (1981 – 1984), Laura Kightlinger (1994 – 1995), Gary Kroeger (1982 – 1985), Matthew Laurance (1980 – 1981), Gail Matthius (1980 – 1981), Michael McKean (1994 – 1995), Mark McKinney (1995 – 1997), Laurie Metcalf (1981), Jerry Minor (2000 – 2001), Jay Mohr (1993 – 1995), Don Novello (1979 – 1980, 1985 – 1986), Michael O’Donoghue (1986), Emily Prager (1981), Randy Quaid (1985 – 1986), Jeff Richards (2001 – 2004), Ann Risley (1980 – 1981), Charles Rocket (1980 – 1981), Tony Rosato (1981 – 1982), Tom Schiller (1979 – 1980), Paul Shaffer (1979 – 1980), Harry Shearer (1979 – 1980, 1984 – 1985), Martin Short (1984 – 1985), Sarah Silverman (1993 – 1994), Robert Smigel (1991 – 1993), Pamela Stephenson (1984 – 1985), Ben Stiller (1989), Terry Sweeney (1985 – 1986), Danitra Vance (1985 – 1986), Dan Vitale (1985 – 1986), Nancy Walls (1995 – 1996), Damon Wayans (1985 – 1986), Patrick Weathers (1980 – 1981), Fred Wolf (1995 – 1996), Alan Zweibel (1979 – 1980)

3 thoughts on “Saturday Night Live Cast Members

  1. You must be a poor naive youngster to have ranked some of these people that low on this list ; the female castmembers from 1995-2000 were the best in the shows history

  2. You must be a real frigging idiot to have ranked some of these people that low on this list ; the female castmembers such as Cheri Oteri and Molly Shannon were the best in the shows history

    • Hey, to each his own. We like what we like. I’ll even admit that last place might be a little harsh for Molly Shannon, considering that I ranked people ahead of her that barely contributed to the show. I just personally never found her the least bit funny.

      If you need me, I’ll be over here deciding if I prefer being called a “poor naive youngster” or a “real frigging idiot.”

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