K945 Staff Ranks SNL Cast Members
Growing up, one of my favorite shows was Saturday Night Live. It was always a treat to get to stay up late and watch SNL with my mom.
I began watching and loving the show in the mid-90's, with cast members such as Will Ferrell, Tim Meadows, Darrell Hammond, and Cheri Oteri to name a few. In my very biased-opinion, the golden years for SNL hit from the mid-to-late 90's.
I still finding myself falling into a Vintage SNL rabbit-hole on YouTube, watching iconic sketches like the Joe Pesci Show, the Old Prospector, and Celebrity Jeopardy.
It's hard to believe the hit show has made it for so long. We're approaching five decades in the coming years, that's crazy!
I decided to put together my list of Top 10 cast members in the show's history. When brainstorming on cast members that resonated the most to me, Greg Atoms wanted to get in on the action with a Top 10 of his own. Greg, like me, grew up watching and loving the show. Surprisingly, we both agreed on our top cast member of all time.
Before I drop our Top 10's, know that these rankings were made purely off of our own personal favorites. We would also love to see your favorite SNL cast members as well!
Jay's Top 10 SNL Cast Members of All-Time
1. Will Ferrell
2. Bill Hader
3. Tim Meadows
4. Chris Farley
5. Adam Sandler
6. Tina Fey
7. Eddie Murphy
8. Keenan Thompson
9. Phil Hartman
10. Dana Carvey
Greg's Top 10 SNL Cast Members of All-Time (With Commentary)
1. Will Ferrell
Cowbell, Jeopardy, President Bush...those alone make him a legend. But what I think separates him from everyone else is that even his worst SNL skits were still legendary. Including the Roxbury Guys and The Love-Ahs
2. Chris Farley
It’s probably my age speaking again, but Chris Farley was one of the funniest people I’ve ever seen. Decades after he said “living in a van down by the river” on SNL, people still know exactly what that means and where it came from. His Chippendale Audition sketch it legendary, and his quick hits in the “coffee crystals” and “Gap girls” sketches are some of my favorites.
3. Adam Sandler
It’s really hard to separate his resume outside of SNL with his SNL stuff. His songs crossed over from the show, and it felt like some of his characters did too (Waterboy was basically Canteen Boy). He did miss some, at least for me. I really never got “Opera Man”…
4. Kristen Wiig
She lasted 7 seasons on the cast, with only 5 women making it longer. In those 7 seasons, she packed in so many memorable, all-time characters. Target Lady, Gilly, and her Kissing Family role are epic. But her impressions were an even higher tier…Nancy Pelosi, Paula Deen, Taylor Swift, Drew Berrymore, and Bjork are some of the best in the history of the show.
5. Eddie Murphy
My favorite from the “old school” casts, Murphy was just explosive. Buckwheat, Gumby, and James Brown set a tone, but Murphy’s ability to make you think and laugh at the same time with “White Like Me” and “Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood” were special.
6. Jimmy Fallon
This is likely my age speaking, but Jimmy Fallon was the glue for a very important era in SNL’s history. There was a ton of talent on the early 2000s cast, but while Fallon was there, they dealt with the departures of Will Ferrell, Molly Shannon, Colin Quinn, Cheri Oteri, and Tim Meadows. But Fallon helped keep it together. His impressions weren’t the best, and his music wasn’t at Sandler levels, but his ability to break the fourth wall in skits helped remind you that you were watching a live sketch show
7. Gilda Radner
She set a tone for how women could be funny in the settings that SNL provided. Impressions sometimes morphed into their own characters with her, like Baba Wawa. But her best work was as Roseanne Roseannadanna, where she could basically say anything she wanted to.
8. Dan Aykroyd
Genius. He would be higher on my list, but I think he worked harder elevating others in his sketches than he did himself. Just watch anything from The Blues Brothers as an example. His best work might be his sketch as Julia Child when he starts to make chicken, before cutting himself.
9. Bill Hader
Over time, he might end up higher on the list. His impression are some of the best the show has ever seen, and his created characters can hang with anyone here. You might not realize he made it 8 seasons on the show, but in those years, he dropped multiple legendary characters, headlined by Stefon.
10. Kenan Thompson
He’s the longest running cast member ever, over 18 seasons. He hasn’t just been on the sidelines either. His impressions might not be great, but he’s been asked to do dozens. His best work is on “What’s Up With That”