No. 25: Jan Hooks and Nora Dunn as The Sweeney Sisters (1986)
Candy and Liz made cheesy musical medleys cool again. Okay, maybe not—but their enthusiasm, charm, and impressively ruched gowns will keep these two stuck in your head long after their tone-deaf accompaniment fades away.
No. 24: Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri as Spartan Cheerleaders (1995)
Rejected cheerleaders Craig and Arianna showed their manic school spirit at events like chess tournaments, where their caffeinated routines were rejected by the team but scored with the audience. “It’s the sweetness of them that was their appeal,” Lorne Michaels told EW in 2010. “Will and Cheri really rehearsed; their routines are routines. They weren’t thrown together.”
No. 23: Maya Rudolph as Donatella Versace (2011)
You don’t like Rudolph’s gonzo interpretation of the louche, perpetually hammered fashionista, who can barely find the energy to open her eyelids all the way? GEEETTT OOUUUUTTTT!
No. 22: Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon as Hans and Franz (1987)
The bodybuilder duo just wanted to pump [handclap] you up! But they never did much work themselves. “It took the audience a little while to realize they were never going to lift weights,” says Carvey. “They were only going to berate people. [In Hans’ voice] ‘If you doubt us, we could come to your house and stretch your flab out into the shape of a ladder, and you could crawl back down in the sewer, because that’s where losers live.'”
No. 21: Will Ferrell and Ana Gasteyer as The Culps (1996)
The painfully uncool married music teachers desperately tried to connect with students by replacing lyrics in popular songs with motivational antidrug messages. School assemblies were never so excruciating…or hilarious.
No. 20: Phil Hartman as Unfrozen Cave Man Lawyer (1991)
Simple Neanderthal Keyrock was confused by our modern world…yet he always managed to win exorbitant damages for his clients. Out there? Sure. Completely unforgettable? You bet your club.
No. 19: Tracy Morgan as Brian Fellow (1999)
Frequently hostile and horribly unqualified to host a zoology talk show, Tracy Morgan’s flamboyant interviewer made swift enemies of his animal guests and their handlers. He knew nothing about wildlife, but he did know one thing: He’s Brian Fellow!
No. 18: Chris Farley, Robert Smigel, and Mike Myers as Super Fans (1991)
Robert Smigel created the iconic Midwestern sports enthusiasts for an improv show he did in Chicago with Bob Odenkirk, never imagining that they would end up on SNL. “The characters were far too provincial,” Smigel remembers thinking. “No one would get it.” Bill Swerski’s Super Fans, often featuring George Wendt, have since appeared at Michael Jordan’s jersey-retirement ceremony, kicked field goals at Soldier Field, and forever changed Chicago sports fandom by renaming Mike Ditka “Da Coach.”
No. 17: Amy Poehler as Amber (2002)
This raunchy reality-show contestant is on our list for three reasons:
1. She could take Leslie Knope in a fight.
2. She’s rockin’ one leg, bro!
3. Amy is actually just hopping on one foot.
No. 16: Gilda Radner and Bill Murray as The Nerds (1978)
The late, great Gilda Radner’s Lisa Loopner was the queen of “The Nerds” whose “Tooooddddd” (played by Murray) was constantly trying to sneak a canoodle—in between giving her noogies, of course.
No. 15: Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi as The Blues Brothers (1976)
Everybody needs somebody to love, and ”SNL” enthusiasts found it in the too-cool-for-school, Ray-Ban’d rhythm & blues musicians Jake and Elwood Blues. In 1978 their band was even the show’s musical guest—twice.
No. 14: Rachel Dratch as Debbie Downer (2004)
Nothing’s guaranteed to lift your spirits quite like watching this pessimist get depressed. “The first kernel of Debbie came because I was on this trip in Costa Rica,” Dratch recalls. “People were just chitchatting: ‘Hey, where you from?’ ‘I’m from New York.’ We’re in this beautiful vacation spot, and someone was like, ‘Oh, were you there for 9/11?’ And everything screeched to a halt…. That stuck in my head.”
No. 13: Mike Myers as Linda Richman (1991)
Myers’ hyperbolically accented, besequined New Yawker slung back cappuccinos as frequently as she waxed buttah about Barbra Streisand, whose 1992 cameo on “Coffee Talk” was so iconic that we get verklemmt just thinking about it.
No. 12: Kristen Wiig as Dooneese (2008)
She may not be the most fetching of the singing Maharelle sisters—what with her fivehead, snaggletooth, and baby-doll hands—but unpredictable Dooneese is certainly the most memorable of the Finger Lakes foursome. Encore!
No. 10: Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery (1996)
Hammond reinvented the erstwhile James Bond as a foulmouthed degenerate whose uncooperative behavior on ”Celebrity Jeopardy!” came at the expense of Will Ferrell’s exasperated Alex Trebek…and his whore mother. (Connery’s words, not ours.)
No. 9: Molly Shannon as Mary Katherine (1995)
Spastic Catholic schoolgirl Mary Katherine Gallagher wanted more than anything to be a “superstar!” Her antics spoke to the nerdy wannabe inside us all—except for the smelling-her-armpits thing. She was on her own with that.
No. 8: Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell as The Ambiguously Gay Duo (1996)
Ace and Gary, the are they or aren’t they? crime-fighting buddies voiced by Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell, have kept their enemies puzzled for nearly 20 years. And we may not have seen the end of them. Last year, creator Robert Smigel considered pitching the live-action movie he wrote with Colbert in 2005 to two new stars. “I thought, ‘What if I went out now to Channing Tatum and Justin Bieber?'” Smigel says. “I would go to see that.”
No. 7: Dana Carvey as Church Lady (1986)
Dana Carvey knows exactly what the hilarious holier-than-thou character would be doing today: “The Church Lady would absolutely still be holding down a church, and would be very lecturing and condescending if the punch bowl wasn’t in the right place…. And she’d have a website. She would be the policeman of the Web, and that would just make her head explode. ‘So much Satan, so little time!'”
No. 5: Eddie Murphy as Mr. Robinson (1981)
Murphy was still a teenager when he debuted this breakout character—a street-smart riff on Mister Rogers who taught kids important lessons about bombed-out buildings and malignant landlords (“Can you say scum bucket?”).
No. 4: Dan Aykroyd and Steve Martin as Two Wild and Crazy Guys (1977)
As faux suave as their polyester shirts, Georg and Yortuk Festrunk proclaimed, “We are two wild and crazy guys.” The Eastern European immigrants tried to be hepcats—but were really just about as American as borscht pie.
No. 3: Bill Hader as Stefon (2008)
The giggling party boy always had the scoop on New York’s hottest spots— and crazy new fads. Can you match them to their Stefon-supplied definitions?
1. TEDDY GRAHAM PEOPLE
3. SUBWAY SLEEPING BAGS
A. “Jewish cupids. They just want you to meet someone nice and settle down.”
B. “When you’re on the train and you sit between two guys in FUBU jackets.”
C. “Homeless RoboCops.”
D. “When a guy has the stumpy arms, but with the belly.”
(Answers: 1D; 2A; 3B; 4C)
No. 2: Tina Fey as Sarah Palin (2008)
Could we possibly pick the greatest ”SNL” political spoof ever? You betcha! Fey’s riff on the vice presidential nominee was a perfect impression—and a satirical gut-punch to the media circus around Palin. And since every election has runners-up, here are our picks for the show’s other looniest legislators:
1. Will Ferrell as George W. Bush
2. Phil Hartman as Bill Clinton
3. Chevy Chase as Gerald Ford
No. 1: Mike Myers and Dana Carvey as Wayne and Garth (1989)
Myers imported the earnest cable-access host from his pre-”SNL” gig, a Canadian show called ”It’s Only Rock & Roll.” But it was the addition of Wayne’s soft-spoken friend and cohost, Garth, that made the sketch click.
“It’s Wayne’s world, and then there’s the loyal sidekick friend,” explains Carvey, who designed Garth’s look himself. “I thought glasses kind of denote that, and they probably helped me look a little younger.” The decidedly un-teenage duo would pump themselves up before tapings by leaping up and down during commercial breaks, “trying to get that youthful energy.” And even as the comedians got older, their characters stayed the same age: “When I was 38, [in] the second movie, there’s a line that goes, ‘Garth finally got pubes,'” Carvey laughs. “So I had to go to Mike, ‘Well, how old do you think Garth is?'” One thing’s for sure: He’ll never be too old to party on.