Photo: The Women of SNL
‘Saturday Night Live’ – History of the Best Sketch Show
Since its premiere in 1975, ‘Saturday Night Live’ has been on the air for an impressive forty-seven seasons. Though the sketch show always centers around the famous guest host, the show would never be what it is without the hysterical cast. Passing the creator, Lorne Michael’s audition process, many famous comedians and actors have planted their roots in this show. From Will Ferrell to Eddie Murphy, SNL has been the home for many of the people that still continue to make us laugh.
The list can go on and on, but let’s take a look at the women who have made a mark on us and the sketch show. There has always been an awful stigma in the comedy industry that women are not as funny as men. They must work twice as hard and also have their looks constantly be picked at in order to be on the same playing field as the men. This sad reality for many comics is all too real, though hopefully, the majority knows how misogynistic and false that thought is.
Let’s look back at the wonderful women that had their start on ‘Saturday Night Live’ and went on to make and star in iconic content that continues to make us smile.
Women of SNL:
Starting strong with Jane Curtin, one of the original cast members of the late-night show. Her SNL career began in 1975 and she remained on the show until 1980. She mostly played straight characters while her cast members upped the antics with the chaos around her. She is most known for being an anchor on the “Weekend Update” segment; her co-anchors were the legendary Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray. Another popular sketch she was a part of were the coneheads which later became a feature film in 1993 ‘Coneheads’ starring herself and Aykroyd.
Curtin began her career on ‘Saturday Night Live’ and it really blossomed after her run. She is most known for her television roles such as Dr. Mary Albright on ‘3rd Rock From The Sun’ and also Allie in the show ‘Kate & Allie’. She continues working mostly on TV, but has made appearances in some films such as ‘Coneheads’ and ‘I Love You, Man’. Curtin will always be remembered as the original anchor on “Weekend Update” and certainly set the stage for the women that would take her seat.
Next up is television star, Julia Louis-Dreyfus whose run on SNL was from 1982 to 1985. Her years of being a cast member lined up with quite male-dominated superstars such as Eddie Murphy and Billy Crystal, which led her to not enjoy her time as much as others. Being only 21 years old, she took it more as a learning experience rather than overall enjoyment, but it really jump-started her career from there. There she met Larry David in his one and only year who would completely change her life from there on out.
Dreyfus is most known for her role as Elaine in the sitcom ‘Seinfeld’ which was on air for an impressive eight years. Being the only female core member of the show, she really made a mark and became one of the funniest characters from the very start. Dreyfus continued her television run starring in other hit shows such as ‘The New Adventures of Old Christine’ which ran for four years and the HBO hit ‘Veep’ which ran for seven years. Dreyfus may not have loved her years on SNL, but it certainly brought her to where she needed to be to succeed.
Up next to the plate is another legend on ‘Saturday Night Live’, Tina Fey. Her run on the show was from 2000 to 2006 where she was the anchor on “Weekend Update”, but also the show’s head writer. She joined the show in 1997 as a writer, but a few years later was granted, head writer. This is why she rarely appeared in sketches other than the weekend update, but soon after she left the show she would appear again doing the iconic Sarah Palin impersonation. She has come back and hosted many times and is the first woman to join the five-timers club.
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Fey’s career is an absolute dream from start to finish. Her writing has blossomed the moment she was on SNL and she would later write hilarious films such as ‘Mean Girls’, and also create the show ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’. She also found the time to star in many films like ‘Date Night’ and ‘Baby Mama’, while also starring as Liz Lemon in the unforgettable ‘30 Rock’. Her filmography seems to be never-ending and she continues writing and producing.
Of course, the only person that could follow Tina Fey is her partner in crime Amy Poehler. Now her run on SNL 2001 to 2008, but still has been featured in many appearances such as her fan-favorite Hillary Clinton impression. Poehler joined Fey as the “Weekend Update” co-host and stayed on the air with her while still being featured in many different sketches as well. The two’s chemistry was undeniable which has led them to pair up in other films and even host the ‘Golden Globes’ together a couple of times.
Poehler has definitely left her mark on SNL history, but she has also started a career for herself that has led to much love from viewers. Her most famous role starring as Leslie Knopes in the mockumentary show ‘Parks and Recreation’ which was on air for six years. She also was the voice of Joy in ‘Inside Out’ which would win Best Animated Feature at the 2016 Academy Awards.
Last, but certainly not least is Kristen Wiig. Her ‘Saturday Night Live’ run began in 2005 and until 2012! During this long and fantastic run, Wiig was known for her incredible impersonations and quirky characters, such as Gilly, Dooneese, and the excited Target Lady. Wiig was an absolute hit from the moment she came onto the late-night show and it was sad to see her leave in 2012, but the content definitely didn’t stop there.
Wiig was quick to show that her television skills were just as good in the film world. In 2011 Wiig wrote and starred in ‘Bridemaids’ which could easily be on the list for the top ten comedies ever made. She would go on to star in many films like ‘Paul’, ‘Skeleton Twins’, and her most recent film ‘Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar’ (which she wrote as well). Voice work has also been a huge part of her career; some feature shows/films she voiced are ‘Big Mouth’, ‘Despicable Me’, and ‘Sausage Party’.
By Jack Colin
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Jack Colin is a playwright and screenwriter with an immense love for film & television which drives him to learn from and share his passion with anyone willing to listen. Living life as a trans man, Jack wants his writing to create a safe space for LGBTQ+ members and share the positive stories that are so often ignored through his work at The Hollywood Insider, he is eager to give readers a confident outlook on life. The storytellers of the world are the ones who decide what happiness can be. Jack takes pride in The Hollywood Insider’s mission statement to stray away from gossip and to lift up voices in entertainment with supportive and meaningful stories that will promote strength and unity.