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6/19/2008 02:32:00 PM
Top Five SNL Cast Members
Will Ferrell was known for doing a great George Bush imitation on 'Saturday Night Live.'
Scott Gries/Getty Images
By Lang Whitaker, SI.com
This weekend marks the return to the megaplex of Mike Myers. After the declining humor of the Austin Powers series, Myers has been absent (at least in person) from the big screen for the last five years. Now, he's back in the hockey-heavy The Love Guru, which hopefully will remind us of Myers' days on Saturday Night Live, when his personal stock of characters -- from Dieter to Wayne -- were all winners. Here's my top five funniest SNL cast members. (And as you can see from my list, I'm a child of the '80s. When Dan Akroyd and those guys were on the show, I was like 2 years old. Sorry.)
1. Norm McDonald: Yep, I was one of those who loved McDonald, especially his breathtaking run hosting "Weekend Update." Hard for me to believe that anyone would find Norm not funny, except for perhaps an NBC executive.
2. Will Ferrell: Even though his best work has been on the big screen, on SNL he was always pitch-perfect as the normal guy who could turn creepy -- and funny -- quickly.
3. Tracy Morgan: Yes, he was a terrible actor, but his ridiculous skits (Brian Fellows, Astronaut Jones) were so strange that they worked.
4. Chris Farley: Seeing him smash through that table while playing Matt Foley still makes me laugh every time I see it. But I thought he was transcendent as a Gap girl.
5. Jon Lovitz: His characters were all similar -- sneering, boozy, uppity -- but he also managed to remain funny throughout.
Who are the funniest SNL cast members of all-time? Let us know below...
Lang Whitaker is the executive editor of SLAM magazine and writes daily at SLAMonline.com
"1. Norm McDonald"? That immediately invalidates the rest of the list. Seriously. He's not funny because 1) he tries waaaay to hard to be funny, and 2) has that smirk that says he wants you to be aware that he's being funny.
Before he was Axel Foley, Reggie Hammond, Scott Roper, Billy Ray Valentine, or Prince Akeem in the movies he was Velvet Jones, Gumby, Mister Robinson, Tyrone Green and Little Richard Simmons on SNL, and he was side-splittingly funny.
Get his Best of SNL DVDs and see Eddie Murphy at comedic his best.
Any list that does not include Phil Hartman is ridiculous. Just his one line as Frank Sinatra - "I've got pieces of guys like you in my stool!" is enough to crack me up.
Here's my list: 1. Phil Hartman - my favorite is him as Sinatra, though his Bill Clinton was great, and the Anal Retentive Carpenter was too.
2. Chris Farley - "My name is Matt Foley.I am a motivational speaker. I live in a van down by the river" And who can forget Chippendales?
3. Dana Carvey - Ross Perot, GW Bush, the Church Lady, the broccoli song, Garth Algar, and tons more.
4. Adam Sandler - Opera Man, the Lunch lady song, the red hooded sweatshirt song, and so many more. Also, that boy scout skit with Alec Baldwin is one of the most cringe inducing things I've ever seen, but hilarious.
5. Mike Meyers - Wayne Campbell, Sprockets, and a lot of other great sketches.
Norm Macdonald? He's my all time favorite but I wouldn't put him on a top 5 list. As dominant as he was on "The Weekend Update", he didn't really have a character in the show itself. In an all time SNL cast, he'd do the "Weekend Update" but that's about it. Also, credit is due to Fred Armisan on the current cast. Armisan could end up being the most diverse cast memeber in the show's history (over Hartman). Good list though.
Wow...even taking into consideration that reasonable opinions can differ, this list is remarkably bad. And I happen to be a rare fan of Norm's.
Would you omit Babe Ruth or Willie Mays from an all-time MLB list because you never saw them play? Of course not. You'd need to make clear that your list included only players from the 1980s and beyond.
Anyway: 1) Dan Akyroyd 2) Phil Hartman 3) John Belushi 4) Eddie Murphy 5) Gilda Radner
80s Beyond: 1) Phil Hartman 2) Eddie Murphy 3) Dana Carvey 4) Martin Short 5) Brad Hall (just kidding)
Any SNL list that does not include Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Phil Hartman is a fraud. Chris Farley was ... AWESOME ... so was Mike Meyers, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrel, Rob Schneider, and Tina Fey. The list can go on and on, but that is my first team and my second team. I'll put them up against any team you can come up with. Norm McDonald was not funny, he was the joke!
The lack of historical perspective here is scary. Was JFK a lesser president in history because he was in office before we were born?
The real top 5 are:
1. Eddie Murphy "Who Shot Buckwheat?" "I'm Gumby Damnit!" He had to carry the whole show the years that he was on. 2. John Belushi Remember the Samurai character didn't even have lines. He was funny without jokes. 3. Bill Murray That Todd guy and the movie award picks were killer. 4. Chevy Chase Made the whole Weekend Update segment. 5. Dan Ackroyd He'd be top 5 just on the strength of the Wild & Crazy Guys.
Phil Hartman definitely deserves some consideration. He didn't really have any stock characters, but he instrumental to each episode's success from week to week. Eddie Murphy was SNL in the 80s, and the original Not-Ready-for-Primetime Players were all hall of famers.
What a terrible list. You need to first qualify your list as 80's on as what you have up there now is a terrible war crime against humanity. Then you must drop Tracy Morgan from your list and add Eddie Murphy or your will continue to look like a fool. I can't really argue against McDonald, Ferrell, Lovitz or Farley as they were all great but how can you leave off Myers and Dana Carvey? But the biggest omission for anyone who watched from the mid-80's on is the late, great Phil Hartman.
This might be one of the worst lists ever made! How can you place Tracy Morgan in there at all and especially ahead of Chris Farley. You also forgot my own personal favorite of the show, Phil Hartman, whose skits were comedic genius and his versatility matched only by Farely and Meyers. The better list: 1) Phil Hartman 2) John Belushi 3) Chris Farley 4) Mike Meyers 5) Will Farrell
How can you have a best cast members list and not include Phil Hartman? Farley was good but his comedy was brainless. He made people laugh by looking ridiculous as an overweight man in certain situations. If he was skinny, nobody would know who he was.
What a horrible list. Even though you didn't know the early cast, no Phil Hartman? And Tracy Morgan being on the list period is a travesty. He's funny, but never outshined anybody. And what about Dana Carvey carrying the show for years?
Ridiculous list indeed, the ladies Gilda Radner, Jane Curtain, Larraine Newman, true they weren’t big box office splash but they were IT there in the beginning with the guys, not necessarily in order,Steve Martin, Chevy Chase Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi,Garret Morris. MY favorites!!!
I agree with the consensus that the original list is one of the worst Top X Lists ever published. My personal list is closer to Dave's with John Belushi's duet with Joe Cocker at the top of my list. Some people are combining repeat hosts with cast members. Accordingly, if you are to judge somebody on their body of work throwing in their SNL appearances, one of the top 5 would have to be Buck Henry, most notably as the foil for John Belushi's Samuri Warrior.
Wow, that list is terrible! Maybe you should do some research and watch the early years when it was really funny!
My list: 1. Belushi -watch his Elizabeth Taylor skit - hilarious! 2. Bill Murray - Todd was awesome! 3. Akroyd and Steve Martin (tie) - the Wild and Crazy guys with their bulges! 4. Eddie Murphy - "Hot tub! Will it make me sweat? Hot Tub! Will it make me wet? Hyygh! 5. Alec Baldwin - All time funniest skit "Beverly Hills Breast and Penis" Baldwin:"This is my greatest achievement!" "Ten inches! He's nine years old!"
Ladies and gentleman of the Internet, I'm just a caveman. Your electronic list frightens and confuses me! In my world, "blog" is a four letter word. When I read the magic electronic screen I wonder: "did little demons get in there and leave those messages?". I don't know! But there is one thing I do know: Phil Hartman is top-3 all-time SNL contributor.
He and Carvey kept that thing rolling during some pretty lean years (and I mean *bad* writing).
Norm Mcdonald was not the funniest, ha wasn't even the funniest Weekend Update host, Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey were the best. Will Ferrell was much funnire on SNL than he was in any of his movies, they all suck, he always plays the same character. He's a real list:
1.Chris Farley, he went all the way to make his skits funny
2.Will Farrel and Jimmy Fallon, in the same boat, hillarious on the show, horrible off it.
3.Adam Sandler, funny in skits and his songs were all-time
4.Bill Murray, fuuny on and off the show
5.Phil Hartman and Darrell Hammond, both were great at Clinton and very versatile
I love Norm McDonald, and he may have been the smartest guy ever on SNL (did you see him on Celebrity "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?), and Dennis Miller was great, but all either of them did well was Weekend Update, and others did WU well and could do scenes also. So my list is:
Honorable Mentions: Martin Short; Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray (can you really pick either when they're both better known for Ghostbusters?); Eddie Murphy and Will Ferrell (again, better known for movies); Dana Carvey; Gilda Radner; Al Franken (who did a lot of funny things for a lot of years for SNL).
Best Host: Steve Martin. What other host took more chances, tried more things, created more catch phrases? Sure, Hanks is great, and Walken, and Paul Simon was perhaps the best sport, but Steve Martin showed them all how it was done before anybody really knew how it was done. On to the regulars:
5) Billy Crystal - when SNL was not very good, he was often the only thing worth watching. All the great things he has done and I think he's still best known for "You look mahvelous." If SNL had had better writers or if he'd stayed with the show longer, he and Short might both be better known for their time on SNL.
4) Jane Curtin - the controversial choice, she was rarely given the punch lines, but she played many different parts and committed to them all, even when she was being called an ignorant slut or made out that she slept with fellow cast members on WU. She made everybody else funnier: Roseanne Roseannadanna, Emily Litella, Irwin Mainway, Todd and Lisa, Beldar, John Belushi on WU, and even Chevy Chase making faces wouldn't have been very funny if she wasn't pitch perfect as the one he mocked (in various scenes). It's hard being the straight man, which is why Abbott got paid more than Costello.
3) Phil Hartman - seamlessly inhabited every role he played, he was probably the best at playing straight or funny, acting or impersonating.
2) Mike Myers - like buttuh, he is worthy.
1) John Belushi. When he sat down as Captain Kirk, you forgot about the extra forty pounds - he *was* Captain Kirk. He was the samurai; he was Jake Blues; he was Joe Cocker; he was Pete Dionasopolis. the cashier at the Olympia Cafe calling out "cheeseburger!" I have no doubt if it wasn't for drugs ending his life he'd be better known for movie roles by now, but even his best stuff in film stole from what he did on SNL. There was a lot of the Samurai in Bluto, and the Blues Brothers started on SNL.
Wow - what editor let this get by? Shouldn't this be titled "Top 5 SNL Cast Members last week"? To not put John Belushi, Dan Akroyd, Eddie Murphy, Bill Murry, or Martin Short on this list is....sinister. So I've compiled your corresponding list of all time NBA greats: 1) LeBron 2) DeWayne 3) Kobe 4) Dwight 5) Joakim
Well, I guess this list is kind of like saying A-Rod is better than Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, or Ted Williams because you were too young to see them play. Just because you were 2 doesn't mean that there weren't *at least* 5 cast members from the first 10 years each of whom was better than the ones you listed (in no particular order, Belushi, Aykroyd, Murray, Murphy, Radner, etc., and I'm sure I'm forgetting some). Even discounting those years, Phil Hartman crushes everyone on your list. Thanks for trying, though -
The original cast was such as knockout that I think you need a separate list for those who weren't part of the first 4-5 years. It wasn't that the writing was better than what came after, they were just brilliant improvisational comic actors who performed well together. And nobody had ever seen anything like that on TV. All the hip musicians lined up to do the show, even the ex-Beatles.
People in my jr. high school pretty much forgot about the Monty Python and Benny Hill reruns after that.
At least the readers recognize the truly most talented person to ever grace SNL: Phil Hartman. I agree with the others on this list, but choosing Tracy Morgan over Hartman is either a travesty or just plain ignorance.
Out of your five, I would place Lovitz at the top. A lot of people loved Belushi, but I think that they remember his best stuff. Belushi was an extreme - either he was hilarious, or he was lousy, although you could place either of those on the writing. The only two on the original show who were less consistent in being funny were Laraine Newman and Garrett Morris (although he gets huge props for Chico Escuela and "Bad Things About The Mets", as well as Ackroyd's pimp in "Fred Garvin, Male Prostitute". As for a top five, that's tough, and subject to interpretation, but mine are
1. Phil Hartman 2. Darrell Hammond 3. Dana Carvey 4. Eddie Murphy 5. Dennis Miller
The first three are/were (RIP P.H.) incredible impersonators. Joe Piscopo didn't have as big of a repetoire as 1 - 3, but his Sinatra was actually better than Hartman's. Eddie Murphy, even if he never did another skit, ranks in the top five for "Buh-weet Sings" (remember Bette Davis Eyes with "???????" appearing below him). Dennis Miller ruled on Weekend Update. His political humor is the best - ever. If you don't like political humor, then I can understand why you wouldn't like Miller, but he was so creative, informed, and wry, that he should be counted as the best.
How about a Top Ten SNL Characters? 1. The Samurai 2. Mr. Robinson 3. The Festrunk Brothers 4. Emily Litella 5. The Church Lady 6. The Land Shark (Candygram) 7. Fernando (You Look Mahvelous) 8. Dr. Jack Bedofsky 9. Nancy Grace 10. Al Franken
This is a tough exercise because there are so many top performers, and many of you youngsters don't remember the "Not Ready for Prime Time Players". The amazing thing is the absence of Chevy Chase from virtually all previous lists. He was the star for the first 2 years. My top 5:
1. Bill Murray 2. Chevy Chase 3. Dana Carvey 4. Tina Fey 5. Phil Hartman
Honorable mentions to Eddie Murphy, Billy Crystal, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Chris Farley, Martin Short, and Dennis Miller.
A slow day at the office for the main compiler? Because so many have omitted John Belushi, I assume these are lists from people too young to know better. The execs at SNL knew better than anyone that McDonald was NOT funny--I remember well his always waiting for the audience to laugh at stuff that was otherwise okay (i.e., funny) but had the wrong pitch man. Probably one of the unfunniest guys of all time.
I find it weird that this listing, and most of the comments, are male-only. Some of the best SNL cast members have been women - the heyday of Ana Gasteyer, Molly Shannon, and Cheri O'Terri were hilarious. Other guys from the '80s you've got to include Rob Schneider and Kevin Nealon to go along with the others guys mentioned here. Schneider always cracked me up. And I used to live for the "Ambiguously Gay Duo" animated skits - they were freaking awesome!
To the anonymous who commented on the "mostly male" responses, you might have to blame that on the writers/producers of SNL. MADTV and In Living Color did a much better job of giving A-list material to women. From what you read about Belushi, it's amazing that JC, GR, and LN survived.
Norm McDonald...aaaabsolutely. Underappreciated now and in his time. Brilliant comedian, just because he wasn't as spastic as everybody else doesn't make him unfunny. I would put Amy Poehler on this list also. She IS spastic, but good lord, she GETS it.
Wow...where to even start. Norm McDonald isn't even in the top-15 of SNL Cast Members, and you have him at #1?!? He was mildly funny as anchor of Weekend Update; outside of that, what other funny bits did he do? Every one of his characters was a slow-paced-speaking, sarcastic, second or third fiddle to an actual all-star cast member's character.
Leaving Dana Carvey off of that list is just ridiculous, and Phil Hartman was ten times as talented and did ten times more main characters as McDonald.
1. Farley..i mean one look at the guy and you will crack up 2. Belushi..he was so diverse and what ever he did it was fantastic 3. Chevy Chase..a lot of people wont agree with me here, but he was hilarious, he originated the weekend update, and all his skits were hilarious 4. Eddie Murphy..his impersonations were just out of this world 5. Toss up between Murray and Ferrel, the two were both hilarious
Honorable Mention Sandler..peaked after his career on SNL, and his skits got old after awhile to be honest Hartmen..very funny man, but his characters all were basically the same Meyers..he would definatly be in my top ten, nut not top five