As any true blue fan of Saturday Night Live can tell you, over the past decade, it’s been all about the ladies. From Tina Fey to Maya Rudolph to Amy Poehler, the women of SNL all but dominated the laughs on the long-running series. Since creator Lorne Michaels knows what does — and doesn’t — work on his own show, it was probably no fluke that he brought Kristen Wiig on board in late 2005 to keep the funny gal momentum going. It’s also no fluke that Wiig soon led most of the show’s sketches, as it turns out her boss is a really big fan of her work.
In an Wiig-centric article in the New York Times, Michaels made a bold statement about the Bridesmaids comedienne, placing her among the “top three or four” performers ever to star on the show. That’s right: Top thee or four SNL stars of all-time. I’m personally a huge Wiig fan (Gilly doesn’t even bother me… that much) and have never quite understood the relentless backlash against her. (After all, do Fred Armisen and Kenan Thompson — two players that are utilized almost as much as Wiig — get the same amount of flak from viewers?) If nothing else, she’s a team player who commits to every single sketch she’s in. Come on, admit it: It takes a special kind of lady to do this on national television.
I can’t help but wonder, also, who else appears on Michaels’ shortlist (though it’s a safe assumption Fey is at the very top). My personal picks for all-time best SNL players? Early ’90s favorites Chris Farley, Phil Hartman would definitely make the cut, as would the aforementioned Fey and Rudolph. (And if you disagree with me on Farley, try not repeating this verbatim next time you order fries.)
Only time will really tell if Wiig is as influential or effective as prior cast members (she’s already created characters that will go down as SNL classics, namely Target Lady and Junice), but for now I say let’s celebrate the heck out of her. If not for SNL, then for Bridesmaids, which I have seen and can confirm is hilarious and absolutely needs to be a huge hit this summer.
Your turn, PopWatchers: Where would you rank Wiig in Saturday Night Live history? Who are your top three or four performers of all-time?