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The 10 Funniest Women in 'Saturday Night Live' History

by Kim Potts, posted Mar 18th 2011 1:00PM

Before Women's History Month ends, we at TV Squad want to add to our countdowns of the 100 most memorable female characters in TV history and the 16 most accomplished real women currently on the tube by giving a shout out to the funniest women of 'Saturday Night Live.'

A note: these are the funniest women of 'SNL' -- while they were on 'SNL.' We agree that Laurie Metcalf, Sarah Silverman and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, all 'SNL' alums, are indeed very funny ladies, but, save one hilariously icky skit in which JLD and Gary Kroeger played an incestuous Donny and Marie Osmond, their days on the sketch comedy classic were rather forgettable.

Not so with the women on our list, however ...

10. Ana Gasteyer
Cast years: 1996-2002
Memorable characters: Bobbi Mohan-Culp, one half of a singing duet with Will Ferrell's Marty, and Margaret Jo McCullin, co-host of 'The Delicious Dish'
Best 'Live' moment: Trying to contain her love of Season's Eatings bakery owner Pete (Alec Baldwin) Schweddy's Schweddy Balls on the holiday edition of NPR's 'Delicious Dish.' "My mouth's watering just thinking about those Balls," Margaret Jo said. Good times, indeed.

9. Maya Rudolph
Cast years: 2000-07
Memorable characters: Donatella Versace, Christina Aguilera, Oprah, Jodi Deitz of 'Bronx Beat' and Megan of 'Wake Up Wakefield!'
Best 'Live' moment: The 'Versace Oscar Fashion Preview,' when Donatella literally gives Christina Aguilera (the real Aguilera) the dress off her back ... and reveals some shockingly unfashionable granny panties.

8. Cheri Oteri
Cast years: 1995-2000
Memorable characters: Cheerleader Arianna, 'Morning Latte' co-host Cass Van Rye, crabby neighbor Rita DelVecchio and Barbara Walters
Best 'Live' moment: Many of Oteri's best moments came with co-star Will Ferrell, as in the 1996 Spartan cheerleaders skit where her Arianna and Ferrell's male cheerleading pal Craig worked out their rah rahs to support the chess team. "Bobby Fischer, where is he? I don't know, I don't know ..."

7. Jane Curtin
Cast years: 1975-80
Memorable characters: 'Weekend Update' anchor, Prymaat Conehead and Enid Loopner
Best 'Live' moment: One of the original Not Ready For Primetime Players, future Emmy winner Curtin was mama Conehead and the first female anchor of 'Weekend Update,' where she had to deal with her sexist 'Point/Counterpoint' partner Dan Ackroyd. In the clip below, she had to prove to viewers that she was just as sexy as former 'Update' host Chevy Chase.

6. Rachel Dratch
Cast years: 1999-2006
Memorable characters: Boston teen makeout queen Zazu, Will Ferrell's "lovah" Virginia in 'The Lovers' skit and Debbie Downer
Best 'Live' moment: While playing ultimate glass-half-empty gal Debbie Downer in the very first installment with host Lindsay Lohan in 2004, Dratch and her co-stars couldn't stop breaking character and cracking up, even when she was dispensing her biggest Downers.

5. Kristen Wiig
Cast years: 2005-present
Memorable characters: The Target Lady, Dooneese, the a-hole couple wife, one-upping Penelope, Gilly, Suze Orman and MacGruber's pal Vicki
Best 'Live' moment: Her impression of financial advising TV star Suze Orman was an instant classic, as Wiig perfectly captured everything from Orman's cadence to her pet names for viewers, and, of course, her love of jackets: "Not many people know this, but I've got a tattoo of decorative buttons going down my chest, so, no matter what, I always look like I'm wearing a jacket."

4. Molly Shannon
Cast years: 1995-2001
Memorable characters: Mary Katherine Gallagher, 'Delicious Dish' co-host Mary Rialto, Sally O'Malley and "joyologist" Helen Madden
Best 'Live' moment: She's totally silly, but we could never watch Sally, the red polyester-clothed dancer who was extremely proud of being 50 (and her unfortunate camel toe), without feeling the need to imitate her kicks and her catchphrase: "I like to kick, stretch and kick ... I'm 50, 50 years old!"

3. Amy Poehler
Cast years: 2001-08
Memorable characters: Rambunctious tween Kaitlin, 'Bronx Beat' co-host Betty Caruso, one-legged Amber, Nancy Grace, Hillary Clinton, Sharon Osbourne and 'Weekend Update' co-host
Best 'Live' moment: Poehler, who joined the show during 'SNL's' memorable first post-9/11 episode, and co-star Tina Fey were a powerhouse duo, whether they were co-hosting 'Weekend Update' or standing at podium as Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton. But our favorite Poehler moment came with her other 'Update' co-host, Seth Myers, during the hilarious inaugural 'Really!?! With Seth & Amy' segment in which they chastised Michael Vick for his lack of forethought about transporting his recreational substances.

Bonus Poehler moment: Her Sarah Palin rap, while very pregnant, on 'Weekend Update.' Another instant classic.

2. Gilda Radner
Cast years: 1975-80
Memorable characters: Baba Wawa, Emily Litella, Lisa Loopner and Roseanne Roseannadanna
Best 'Live' moment: Another original member of the Not Ready For Primetime Players, Radner earned an Emmy for her 'SNL' work, which was so popular that she was eventually offered her own primetime show on NBC. One reason: Roseanne Roseannadanna, one of the most iconic characters in 'SNL' history. Here, Roseanne, the wild-haired, crass 'Weekend Update' editorialist, goes off on one of her trademark digressive rants while ostensibly addressing the issue of smoking.

1. Tina Fey
Cast years: 1997-2006
Memorable characters: Sarah Palin and 'Weekend Update' co-host
Best 'Live' moment: As the first female 'SNL' head writer, Fey won both Emmy and Writers Guild awards. It's her combo of writing and performing skills that earns her the numero uno spot on our list of 'SNL' funny women. In terms of on-camera action, her Sarah Palin impression killed, but we'll always love her most for her pithy take on women's issues during her 'Weekend Update Women's News' spots. She opined on everything from Hillary Clinton's presidential bid to how Britney Spears should enjoy her "cherry bomb" booty, and, below, how nice girls everywhere have to battle the Bombshell McGees of the world.

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Jan Hooks! Jan Hooks! Jan Hooks!
Great, great, great!

December 08 2012 at 11:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Cheri Oteri's "Simma down now" cajun-y character deserves mention, I think, and my favorite character of hers, Collette Reardon. "Good kid, good kid".

March 21 2011 at 1:26 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Cheri oteri? generic at best. and amy pohler is awful and steals most of her ideas (someone please tell her playing everything OTT is not the same as being funny). and leaving off Jan Hooks, for shame!

March 21 2011 at 11:16 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

I would put Rachel Dratch higher on this list at # 3, and Jane Curtin to #4, with Amy at 5. I would delete Cheri Oteri and Molly Shannon and add Jan Hooks and Julia Louise-Dreyfus.

The top ten men (in random order): Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray, John Belushi, Mike Meyers, Adam Sandler, Martin Short, Dana Carvey, Billy Crystal, Will Ferrell and Phil Hartman.

Honorable mention: Chevy Chase, Dennis Miller, John Lovitz, Andy Samburg, Jason Sudekis, Seth Meyers, A. Whitney Brown, Dan Akyroyd, Jimmy Fallon, Al Franken, Darrell Hammond, Norm MacDonald, Chris Farley and David Spade.

A note: This list is of people who were funny on the show. There are several people not mentioned, like Chris Rock, Damon Wayans and Sarah Silverman who are really funny but did not get enough good air time.

March 20 2011 at 7:09 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Lorraine Newman.

March 20 2011 at 6:20 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

and best voice - Victoria Jackson

March 20 2011 at 6:15 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

what? Jan Hooks! Nora Dunn! are missing

March 20 2011 at 6:13 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Jan Hooks, Nora Dunn, Michaela Watkins.

March 20 2011 at 2:07 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
The Mutt

Replace Wiig with Jan Hooks and you're good.

March 20 2011 at 2:01 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Fey (#1) and Poehler (#3) . . . really? And I imagine your judges (all born post-1980?) might also choose Fergie and Taylor Swift ahead of the Beatles and Led Zepplin in their "all time best musical groups" . . . what a waste of 3 minutes of my life.

March 19 2011 at 8:47 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to palmhearts's comment

My thoughts exactly. To know the original SNL actors & actresses was to know the BEST.

March 19 2011 at 10:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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