(John Belushi won the poll for Favorite Male SNL cast member....fittingly in my opinion. Thanks for participating)
It was difficult to narrow my male SNL list down to ten. This time I'm struggling to find ten females I really like! It has been said many times by men either to themselves or out loud after a few drinks that women aren't funny. Obviously that statement isn't true. I think there are plenty of funny women. The trouble is that usually the level of humor rises or falls depending on the level of physical attractiveness. Think about it. There are very few funny women who are also smoking hot. Being attractive is like a big distraction for guys and it is difficult to laugh at the joke when you are distracted. I never thought Sarah Silverman was all that funny because she was a little bit too cute (at least back in her SNL days). On the other hand Ana Gasteyer has mas made me laugh quite a few times and she's not even slightly cute! Of course it is understandable that many men are probably in love with Amy Poehler and Tina Fey who are nice looking ladies and also brilliant comediennes. But they are exceptions, and besides stand either of them next to Brooklyn Decker or Sienna Miller and....well, you get my point.
But the reality for me is that there are about 5 to 7 ladies from SNL that I really appreciate for their comedic talent but to make this blog fair and equitable between the sexes I felt I should make a Top Ten just as I did for the men. The women at the bottom of my list did have some funny moments on the show but their entire body of work isn't all that great in my opinion. I will even be gracious and throw in an honorable mention as I did for the fellas....
Honorable mention: Cheri Oteri
Most famous sketch: The Cheerleaders
Cheri usually played the same character in everything and tried real hard to make "Simmer down now!" a household phrase. Many times she just annoyed me but I
have to admit her Judge Judy and Barbara Walters did make me smile. She was always a good companion for Will Ferrell too especially that cheesy Kathy Lee-type morning show sketch.
10. Rachel Dratch
Favorie sketch: Debbie Downer
Rachel was on the show for a long time and played well with Will Ferrell and Jimmy Fallon. She is exhibit A in my argument for funny women being less attractive.
9. Maya Rudolph
Favorite sketch: Wake Up Wakefield
Famous characters: Condoleeza Rice, Donatella Versace
In her post-SNL career Maya has proven to be a decent actress but her first few years on the show I didn't think she was funny at all. She started warming up to me as Megan the nerdy girl in the Wake Up Wakefield sketches where she had a crush on "Randy Goldman" played by Jimmy Fallon.
8. Julia Sweeney
Favorite sketch: It's Pat!
For a stretch in the early 90s Julia was the only female with any talent on the show which may be why she stands out to me. She was good in all of her sketches and her Pat character is still recognizable. And we never found out the truth about Pat did we?
7. Molly Shannon
Favorite sketch: The Delicious Dish
Famous characters: Mary Katherine Gallagher, Monica Lewinsky
Molly like her counterpart Cheri Oteri annoyed me some of the time but she was clearly the better writer and performer of the two. I like her willingness to do physical comedy and her serious face cracks me up when she says things like "Schweddy Balls" on the Delicious Dish.
6. Ana Gasteyer
Favorite characters: Martha Stewart, Joy Behar, Helen Thomas, Bobbi Mohan-Culp, Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand
I think Ana is underrated. She did far more on the show than the other ladies she performed with like Molly and Cheri. Her impression of Joy Behar is my favorite because Joy is an example of an ugly woman without a shred of comedic talent and Ana nails her perfectly. Ana is also funny in The Delicious Dish sketches with Molly Shannon and the singing Culp sketches with Will Ferrell.
5. Tina Fey
Favorite character: Sarah Palin
As a writer Tina is number one. She was the head writer for the show for many years and her time on Weekend Update is the best that segment has ever been with apologies to Dennis Miller and Chevy Chase. She is responsible for making both Jimmy Fallon and Amy Poehler the stars they are today.
4. Kristen Wiig
Famous characters: The Target Lady, Nancy Pelosi, Kat of Garth and Kat (with Fred Armisen), and literally dozens more!
For the first time in the history of the show SNL is dominated by a woman! It must make all of the previous ladies proud...or jealous! Kristen is in nearly every sketch and steals them most of the time. My favorite sketch she does is that 60s game show, like Password...I don't even know the name! But she is hysterical in that and many other things.
3. Amy Poehler
Favorite characters: Hillary Rodham, Betty Caruso co-host of Bronx Beat, and several more.
I was an Amy Poehler fan before she got the SNL gig. When she started doing sketches it was the first time in the history of the show that the funniest person in the cast was a female. Then she became the co-host of Weekend Update and took it to another level. She breaks the rule of course for attractive women being funny, she's cute and she's freakin' hilarious! And she's married to another favorite comedian of mine, Will Arnett. They're pretty much my favorite funny couple.
2. Jan Hooks
Favorite Sketches: Pie with breakfast (?), The Sweeney Sisters
Favorite characters: Nancy Reagan, Hillary Rodham, Tammy Faye Baker, Sinead O'Connor, Bette Davis, and many many more.
One word: UNDERRATED!! As a matter of fact I would contend that Jan Hooks is the most underrated performer in the history of the show. She was extremely talented as an actress and a comic. She was also the perfect counterpart for Phil Hartman and played his better half in many sketches of famous couples: The Reagans, The Clintons, Jim and Tammy Faye Baker. And she was every bit his equal in comedic chops. My all-time favorite SNL sketch is the one in the picture I call "Pie with breakfast" with Alec Baldwin. That is her best moment on the show and highlights her skill as a comic actress. She is now a character player on 30 Rock but her best work was on that other stage in 30 Rock in the 80s and early 90s.
1. Gilda Radner
Favorite characters: Rosanne Rosannadanna, Emily Litella, Lisa Loopner, Baba Wawa
If Belushi is the king then Gilda is the queen of SNL. Belushi once famously said he didn't think women were funny except for Gilda Radner (makes me wonder what Jane Curtin and Laraine Newman thought of that). If I had to name my favorite female comedians of all time Gilda would top the list along with Carol Burnett. She had perfect timing, did physical comedy like no other, and she was cute and likeable. Her sketches as a little girl are excellent, her Weekend Update spots were the best on the show, and that segment where she dances with Steve Martin is probably my favorite. My sister once said Gilda is the female Steve Martin and that sounds about right. We lost one of the best performers ever when she passed away.
That's my list. Sorry to any Victoria Jackson or Ellen Cleghorne fans out there!