SNL cast members ranked

jbutler

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reading Norm MacDonald's fantastic binge-tweeting of the SNL 40 episode, i saw his reference to a rolling stone article ranking the cast members and he mentioned he had been ranked quite low on the list (i.e., not good). since i love Norm beyond reason, i found this offensive, but sought out the article to gawk at it like a wreck on the highway.

it is indeed insane. Norm is 135 of 141. sure, it's subjective to an extent, but putting Norm at 135 is objectively fucking ludicrous. i recently started receiving rolling stone as some kind of promotion from a credit card or some other such nonsense and opened the magazine for the first time in years.

what a bunch of garbage. it seems like it has completely lost its course as a subversive - or even interesting - publication. it was already backsliding a bit when my parents got me a subscription in 1990, but it was still a bit hip. it covered "college" (later "alternative") music and did a decent job of providing exposure to lesser-known bands. with it and CMJ, a suburban kid could learn about a lot of very interesting artists. now its only asset is Matt Taibbi. why he stays, i have no idea.

SNL has not fared much better over the last several years than rolling stone, so i suppose it's fitting that they combine to provide the tasteless pap that is the ranking linked to above, but it was stomach-turning nonetheless. scrolling down the list is still interesting, however.

anyway, i guess my personal top ten would be:

10) david spade
9) mike myers
8) john belushi
7) eddie murphy
6) norm macdonald
5) will ferrell
4) dan aykroyd
3) bill murray
2) chris farley
1) phil hartman

beyond phil being number one, they can all move up and down (with a couple of alternates - belushi, sandler, radner - occasionally making appearances).
 
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Chippy McChiperson

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Man it would take some time to rank them, but I would have to include Dana Carvey in my top ten. Chevy Chase probably too, even though he is supposedly a jerk in real life.
 

jbutler

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Man it would take some time to rank them, but I would have to include Dana Carvey in my top ten. Chevy Chase probably too, even though he is supposedly a jerk in real life.

dana is likely in my top 20, but to me chevy was so, so much funnier outside of SNL.
 

guinness

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Jack I agree with your entire post. I had Rolling Stone for years but cancelled last year. When I originally read that SNL list it was all kinds of awful. I think someone under 25 led that charge. I'm sorta divided on the fact that no women are on your list though. Jan Hooks, Molly, Tina, Gilda, Maya (has grown on me) and Wiig (left too soon). I think I might take Jan or Gilda over Myers and MacDonald. I think Norm is brilliant and was ahead of his time for update, but sketch comedy for me weighs pretty heavy for SNL voting. Its not to say one is funnier or better than the other, but for SNL votes I might take at least one of those chicks (Fey?) over Mac.
 

jbutler

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Jack I agree with your entire post. I had Rolling Stone for years but cancelled last year. When I originally read that SNL list it was all kinds of awful. I think someone under 25 led that charge. I'm sorta divided on the fact that no women are on your list though. Jan Hooks, Molly, Tina, Gilda, Maya (has grown on me) and Wiig (left too soon). I think I might take Jan or Gilda over Myers and MacDonald. I think Norm is brilliant and was ahead of his time for update, but sketch comedy for me weighs pretty heavy for SNL voting. Its not to say one is funnier or better than the other, but for SNL votes I might take at least one of those chicks (Fey?) over Mac.

the preference for sketch over update is what keeps fey out for me (as well as dennis miller who, despite his later insanity was great on update). norm is the exception to the rule just because i think he was so completely transcendent as the update anchor. and believe me, i was conscious of the absence of females from the top ten (though as noted radner is an occasional alternate).

jan is funny, but honestly doesn't beat any of those mentioned above for me. maya is possible - she's hilarious. amy poehler, though i think she is fantastic, didn't kill me on SNL. that's partly because i had almost tuned the show out during her prime, though. ditto with wiig as to my tuning the show out as a whole.
 

Chippy McChiperson

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I couldn't stop at ten, there are far too many great cast members. here is my Top 20.
1. Eddie Murphy
2. John Belushi
3. Bill Murray
4. Mike Myers
5. Will Farrell
6. Adam Sandler
7. Phil Hartman
8. Chris Rock
9. Dana Carvey
10. Chevy Chase
11. Norm MacDonald
12. Tina Fey
13. Chris Farley
14. Dan Aykroyd
15. Darrell Hammond
16. Andy Samberg
17. Jason Sudeikis
18. Gilda Radner
19. Maya Rudolph
t20. Jimmy Fallon / Amy Poehler
 
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I think the show lost its luster after the "Not ready for Prime Time Players" all left. But then again, that shows my age. ;) There are many great comics like Farley, Carvey, etc. but the whole cast is a lot weaker than it was in the past.
 

Mr Tree

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Eddie Murphy has to be my number one. When he was on SNL he was the funniest man on the planet.
 

Junior24xx

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Kevin nealon and Jon Lovitz are 2 personal favs. I know they don't crack the top 10 but I have nothing but fond memories of tha era.
tonto frankenstein and Tarzan Christmas anyone?
 

ovo

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yes, those two with Phil Hartman, that was a great skit... fire bad
 

snooptodd

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This wasn't on SNL, obviously, but this was probably the greatest Norm McD moment of all time. The reactions of the athletes in attendance are priceless, especially Ken Griffey Jr., early on and at the very end.

 

jbutler

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okay, norm at the ESPYs was great so imma let him finished, but norm roasting clinton at the 1997 white house correspondents dinner was the greatest of all time.


what makes the whole thing almost doubly hilarious is that the monotone c-span introduction ("the event took place...") was a super common trope of SNL pieces of the 90s, so it lends this additional facade of sketch too the speech even though it was an actual speech given at a huge event. if not for colbert's, this would be the best correspondents speech ever imo.

- - - - - - - - - Updated - - - - - - - - -

just to add on, norm's episode of WTF was fantastic:


as was his interview on the 2+2 pokercast:


i can't remember which has which gambling stories (he has some amazing ones including one about throwing tens of thousands of dollars off the boardwalk outside of the Taj in AC when he realized he had a gambling addiction), but they're both super interesting listens imo and you obv get more SNL content on WTF.
 

jbutler

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Kevin nealon and Jon Lovitz are 2 personal favs. I know they don't crack the top 10 but I have nothing but fond memories of tha era.
tonto frankenstein and Tarzan Christmas anyone?

yeah i try to be objective, but i have real soft spots for a lot of that era's cast. i never understood why lovitz couldn't get a bigger hold in comedy outside of SNL. at least nealon had weeds (has? is it still on?). lovitz was hilarious in Happiness and the (much too short-lived) Critic, but he rarely gets his due. i'd also add tim meadows, julia sweeney, al franken (good cast member, but MUCH larger impact as writer obv), and the already-mentioned jan hooks to that list.

i also have some nostalgia for the cast immediately following that one with the highlights being jim breuer, tracy morgan, molly shannon, chris parnell, darrell hammond, and the also-already-mentioned maya rudolph.

i was really only barely hanging on during that era (2000-01 season) and really checked out after that, so i missed what seems to be the widely-acclaimed fey/poehler/fallon/samberg cast. i liked many of them (never fallon, though - still don't like him) in later iterations and even in near-contemporaneous appearances outside of SNL (baby mama with fey and poehler).

i'm sure there are quality writers and cast members currently at SNL, but i'm just not interested enough to take the time to watch. when i have tuned in (extremely sparingly) over the past decade, it's been to catch the last 15 or 20 minutes of the show since it's in those slots that they put the most out-there sketches i'm looking to see anyway. they've been alright - occasionally hilarious, often mediocre, sometimes cringeworthy (in a bad way).
 
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