Saturday Night Live has been on the air for more than 30 years for a reason. Despite its downhill slide over the past few years, SNL has created some of the most memorable comedic television of our generation. As the cast adds a few new faces for the 2010 season, here are the top 10 greatest SNL performers of all time in the opinion of a total SNL snob:
10. Will Ferrell
Ferrell is one of many tragic examples of SNL actors who had amazing characters on the show but went on to star in a litany of humorless sports-themed films. Well,.. I guess Anchorman was kind of funny.
Best characters: Harry Caray, Alex Trebek, James Lipton, George W. Bush, Saddam Hussein
9. Kristen Wiig
She's the best performer on the show right now -- and apparently, the only one that's not afraid to be weird anymore. I guess the two go hand in hand.
Best characters: Penelope, "Babe" from 2 A-Holes, Penelope, The "Just Kidding" Travel Agent, Aunt Linda the Movie Critic, Suze Orman
8. Will Forte
For a while, he came out with some of the most brilliant weirdo characters the show had seen in years. He's showing fewer weirdo characters now which is disappointing, but his Weekend Update songs have remained gleeful.
Best Characters: The Falconer, Tim Calhoun, Lyle Kane, MacGruber, Man Who Mailed Himself in a Box
7. Darryl Hammond
He'd been on SNL for a colossal 13 years. He's the Dana Carvey of the new millennium with impressions that become more famous than the actual celebrities themselves.
Best characters: Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Al Gore, Chris Matthews, Jesse Jackson
6. Gilda Radner
The first woman to really create characters on SNL. She was fearless.
Best characters: Lisa Loopner, Judy Davis (the little girl), Baba Wawa, Hearing Impaired Emily, Rosanne Rosannadana.
And now, we enter the "Totally '80s" part of the list. The casts of the mid/late '80s and early '90s are the casts that made me obsessed with SNL in the first place.
5. Jan Hooks
She always seemed totally calm and in control to me while she skewered the female celebrities of her day. She's the cast member that most of the other women on the show have copied most.
Best characters: Candy Sweeney of the Sweeney Sisters, Greta Garbo, Nancy Glass from Attitudes, Sinead O'Connor, Hillary Clinton
4. Mike Myers
He was like the little brother of the top three performers of all times until he hit his stride and provided one megahit character after another. Anyone in their 30s still regularly references his characters on a daily basis.
Best characters: This is where it becomes really difficult to have to cut characters from the list: Dieter from Sprockets, Wayne Campbell, Linda Richmond from Coffee Talk, Phillip-the Hyperactive-Hypoglycemic... and Lothar of the Hill People.
3. Chris Farley
He was my generation's John Belushi. His spectrum of depressed, dejected and down-on-themselves characters made everyone want to hug him.
Best characters: Matt Foley the motivational speaker, Chris Farley from The Chris Farley Show, Bennett Brauer from Weekend Update, Cindy the Gap Manager, Todd from Bill Swerski's Superfans
2. Dana Carvey
He made SNL half of what it was in the '80s, and his impression of the first George Bush was so funny it got him invitations to the White House. His characters are so famous, it's cliché to reference them now -- like someone trying to imitate DeNiro in Taxi Driver.
Best characters: The Church Lady, George H.W. Bush, Garth Algar, Ross Perot, Massive Headwound Harry
1. Phil Hartman
Without question, the greatest SNL performer of all times. If he was in a scene it couldn't fail. I think it was the way he could communicate all of his characters' neuroses using only his eyes.
Best characters: The Anal Retentive Chef, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Charlton Heston, Frankenstein
- Matt Foley
- Lisa Loopner
- John Belushi
- Dana Carvey
- Will Forte
- Saturday Night Live
- Gilda Radner
- Will Ferrell
- Alex Trebek
- the Sweeney