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Who Scored Big in Week 1 of SNL's Relevancy Poll?

by Mike Ryan, posted Sep 26th 2011 1:20PM
Kristen WiigThe first week of 'Saturday Night Live' is in the books, which means it's once again time to go to the Relevancy Poll to see who's getting the most out of their airtime. (The final results of last year's poll are over here.) Host Alec Baldwin dominated the smaller sketches, and with a plethora of ensemble sketches (three in all), at least so far, it's hard to get a true gage on how things will play out in the cast. Though we did get a sense that Kristen Wiig seems to be back in full force -- after what could be considered a year off to finish and promote 'Bridesmaids'-- and that Jay Pharoah is still in the doghouse. Off to the poll:

Kristen Wiig1. Kristen Wiig (Last Season: 5) The best thing to happen to Kristen Wiig was 'Bridesmaids.' And I don't mean that in a "the movie was successful" type of way. What 'Bridesmaids' provided Wiig, as far as 'SNL' is concerned, was basically a season not as the front and center performer. To be honest, Wiig's characters like Gilly and Penelope were getting pretty stale (and it's not a surprise that she has retired those characters). So it was almost shocking to see her, again, as the focus of the show -- but pleasantly shocking. She seems quite rejuvenated with her Michelle Bachman and playing the lead in both "Red Flag" and "Satellite Delay."

Bill Hader2. Bill Hader (Last Season: 1) If not for Kristen Wiig's surge to claim back top dog status at 'SNL' (at least in the first week), Hader has pretty much picked up right where he left off from last season. Here's Bill Hader's little trick: Even though it feels like Hader was a huge part of the show, his screen time was actually fairly limited (at least for Hader) -- but his Alan Alda in "Top Gun 25th Anniversary DVD" and his game show host in "Who's on Top?" still stand out enough for Hader to claim the number two spot.

Taran Killam3. Taran Killam (Last Season: 10) Killam's sketch, "Dying Wish," has stayed with me the most since watching the live show on Saturday. Also, he won the part of John Huntsman (which may not be that long of a role), was featured heavily in "Red Flag" and did an... odd impression of Tom Hanks in "Top Gun.'

Nasim Pedrad4: Nasim Pedrad (Last Season: 9) Pedrad was promoted to a full time cast member this season, which boosts her up a bit on the list, regardless of airtime. Her big sketch was "Child Psychologist" which was, at times, annoying, but was also at times funny. Regardless, just to have a starring sketch in this crowded week was quite the coup on its own.

Jason Sudekis5. Jason Sudeikis (Last Season: 6) Here's a fun game to play this season: Has Jason Sudeikis checked out? It's going to be no surprise when Sudeikis leaves 'SNL' now that his film career is blossoming -- but will he check out on 'SNL' before he's gone? There were shades of this last season! (And his often-partner Forte leaving before last season didn't help.) So far, I'm going with, "No, Jason Sudeikis hasn't checked out." Though it was funny to see him check himself out of "Who's on Top?" (Also, landing the role of Mitt Romney will most likely keep Sudeikis focused.)

Andy Samberg6. Andy Samberg (Last Season: 2) Quiet-ish week for Samberg. It was surprising there wasn't a digital short considering that they should have had time to film one during the last few weeks. Samberg got some play in "Red Flag" and (I think) reprised his role as One Take Tony in "All My Children." It has to be One Take Tony, right? He backs out of the room in the exact same way as One Take Tony!

Vanessa Bayer7. Vanessa Bayer (Last Season: 12) Solid night for Bayer's second season debut. Her Susan Lucci will not win her any "Best Susan Lucci Impression" awards, but she will still the focus of the 'All My Children' sketch. Plus she was runner-up during "Who's on Top?" and put up with a bowl of tapioca pudding being dumped on her in "Child Psychologist."

Fred Armisen8. Fred Armisen (Last Season: 3) Armisen seemed like the odd man out this week as far as veteran cast members are concerned. He was around for the ensemble stuff -- and he had some good lines as Tony Danza and his Prince is always funny -- but no featured sketches this week. (Is it too late to start a "Free Nicholas Fehn" rally?)

Paul Brittain9. Paul Brittain (Last Season: 14) Good start for Brittain -- especially when you consider how little screen time he had last season. His Ron Paul (via the ghost of Will Forte) stole the show during "GOP Debate." Unfortunately, his Johnny Depp was cut from "Top Gun."

Abby Elliott10. Abby Elliott (Last Season: 13) All things considered, especially when you take a look back at Elliott's hellacious last season, not a terrible night. She had some memorable lines in "All My Children" and played the co-anchor in "Satellite Delay."

Bobby Moynihan11. Bobby Moynihan: (Last Season: 8) Limited airtime for Moynihan in the first show of his fourth season. Pretty decent laughs as Newt Gingrich in "GOP Debate," and was a part of the excellent "Dying Wish." And no one does a better Natalie from 'Facts of Life.' (Sadly, Moynihan's' role as Captain Lou Albano in the second part -- or alternative part -- of "Top Gun" was cut from the live broadcast.)

Keenan Thompson12. Keenan Thompson: (Last Season: 7) Sadly, Keenan was an afterthought in the season opener. He made appearances in the ensemble sketches "GOP Debate" and "All My Children," but that was it.

Seth Meyers13. Seth Meyers (Last Season: 4) Hard to blame Meyers for a slow start on "Update." It will take a couple of weeks for the gears to start turning at full speed and, unfortunately, Meyers' greatest strength of interaction with his "Update" guests was squandered when Baldwin was pretty much left alone to riff as Tony Bennett.

Jay Pharoah14. Jay Pharoah (Last Season: 11) The curious case of Jay Pharoah continues. At the end of last season, if you had made me place money on Pharoah's return, I would have been inclined to bet on "not returning." But! Here he is! Sort of. I mean, we saw him in the background during the good nights. And he makes a quick appearance in the "Top Gun" segment that was cut from the live show -- and of course, even in that, he was doing an impression. (I fear another entire season of harping on Pharoah for not being able to do anything on the show other than impressions might be upon us.) I mean, it's almost as if Lorne dislikes Pharoah so much that he brought him back just so that he could make him sit on the bench the entire season. I hope this changes.

All photos via NBC

You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.

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October 24 2011 at 2:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My week one rankings are as follows
1 Bill Hader
2 Taran Killam
T3 Kristen Wiig
T3 Jason Sudeikis
4 Fred Armisen
5 Andy Samberg
6 Paul Brittain
7 Kenan Thompson
8 Bobby Moynihan
T9 Vanessa Bayer
T9 Nasim Pedrad
T10 Seth Meyers
T10 Abby Elliott
11 Jay Pharaoh
Also my system does not make it so that Seth can actually be near the top so thats why hes always towards the bottom. The most he can get it 10 points which most cast member get past. However I did fine this weeks WU not to par with the usual Seth WU

October 12 2011 at 10:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I also do rankings like this, but with a point system and funniness counts. I had the same top 3 but with Hader first, then Taran then Kristen. Also why do you have Nasim so high. All she did was a lame Paula Abdul, her junky raqual chracter and one of the soap opera people. She should be behind Fred who did 2 impressions in the Top Gun Screen Takes skit and a few supporting roles. Also I think you short changed Paul. He was great as Ron Paul and as the soap opera person he did. Also I thought that in her supporting roles Vanessa can be really annoying and while she was fine in the Power skit, in Who's On Top the way she talked was just kind of annoying. Also I dont think that was one take tony. While Andy had a few roles he wasn't really funny. His best moment was the soap opera skit which was good but the Crispin Glover and the Rick Santorum were both eh. He also got out acted by Taran and Jason in Red Flag.

October 12 2011 at 9:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I forgot you moved Mike; I've been looking for this!

September 26 2011 at 5:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mims's comment
Mike Ryan

Hey, glad you found it!

September 26 2011 at 6:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yeah, I through Brittain and Elliot would go higher on the list. Well, thems the breaks when almost everyone is having a good week. Everyone but poor Jay Pharoah. I hope this season will be better than his first.

September 26 2011 at 2:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to lordz86's comment
Mike Ryan

Yeah, until we see more, there is some carryover from last season considering it's the same cast. Poor Jay Pharoah, indeed.

September 26 2011 at 3:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with just about everything, except I would switch Brittain and Samberg. Even though I am a diehard SNL fan, I felt like I finally MET Paul Brittain on Saturday night. I think we finally saw who he is as a performer, and where he'll fit in on the show (which is most likely taking over for Forte as the resident weirdo, but I love it). His Ron Paul was a standout performance for me in the opener, and then his delivery on "Or was I pushed?" in the All My Children Wrap Party was solid, too.

Oppositely, I feel like I've forgotten who Andy Samberg is. With both Jorma and Akiva no longer working at the show, I feel like this is the first time Andy's only had himself to fall back on, and he appears to have lost himself in the fray. Of all of the cast members, he seems like the most checked out to me (the absence of a Digital Short being the most obvious statement he made). It seems like he's struggling now that he's finally having to finally create characters that extend beyond his charisma. We'll see.

Oh. and #FreeJayPharoah. I'm hoping the reason the show hid him is because they're unveiling him as Obama for episode 2.

September 26 2011 at 2:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Talia's comment
Mike Ryan

See, I feel like I met Brittain during "Sex" Ed Vincent last year. I can't *believe* we haven't seen that character back yet. Also, very valid points about Samberg.

September 26 2011 at 2:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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