12 of the Best & Funniest Women of 'SNL' (PHOTOS)

Damarys Ocaña Perez | Oct 21, 2015 TV
12 of the Best & Funniest Women of 'SNL' (PHOTOS)

Women have always been a big part of Saturday Night Live. In fact the first person ever cast for the show was a woman, Gilda Radner. Since then some of its most successful performers have had boobs, including Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler, to name just a few of SNL's most memorable comediennes.

Here are the 12 best female SNL cast members to ever don a wig, cheerleader outfit, or pair of frame-less glasses and make us ROTFL.


Image via NBC

  • Tina Fey (1998-2006)



    Duh. She was the show's first female head writer and her 2008 impersonation of Sarah Palin is enough to land her on this list. But her stint as Weekend Update anchor was also one of the best ever, a mix of razor-sharp commentary and laughs. She would have been right at home hosting The Daily Show.

  • Kristen Wiig (2005-2012)


    Image via NBC

    Some SNL cast members are adept at impressions, others, like Kristen Wiig, specialize in recurring characters, and hers were doozies: that Midwestern wonder of optimism, Target Lady; Dooneese, she of the high forehead and creepy doll hands; and deluded actress Mindy Gracin. 

  • Maya Rudolph (2000-2007)


    Image via NBC

    She had a seven-year run on SNL and there was plenty to love, from her dour, bat-birth-loving Donatella Versace — an instant classic — to her work with Amy Poehler on Bronx Beat as a disaffected mom who nevertheless hosts a talk show. If she doesn't hold a series record for most impressions, she's probably pretty close. She did virtually every non-white female character portrayed on the show during her stint.

  • Amy Poehler (2001-2008)


    Image via NBC

    Her uptight Hillary Clinton was on point, but Poehler had lots more to give, and was eerily convincing as both Michael Jackson and Christopher Walken. In her last season with the show, she became the only SNLcast member ever to receive an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. 


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  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus (1982-1985)


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    Surprise! The future Elaine (Seinfeld) and Veep (Veep) got her start on SNL, becoming the youngest female performer ever cast, at 21. She hated the cutthroat competition among cast members and lasted only three years, but she had some serious highlights during her run, including a skit making fun of Brooke Shields' notorious Calvin Klein ads.

  • Cheri Oteri (1995-2000)


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    The most enjoyable aspect of Cheri Oteri's SNL work was her level of commitment to insanity, which involved everything from crazy eyes to tense smile to how tight she wound her body. Her signature character, of course, was Arianna, the uber-excited member of the two-person Spartan cheerleading team. 

  • Ana Gasteyer (1996-2002)


    Image via NBC

    Her Martha Stewart impression was so viciously on-point that in 2014 Ana Gasteyer apologized to the domestic maven on Late Night With Seth Meyers — tongue firmly in cheek, of course, since Stewart was there to trade funny barbs. Gasteyer's other memorable characters included Margaret Jo from Delicious Dish (think Schweddy Balls) and Cinder Calhoun, a feminist singer and activist.

  • Rachel Dratch (1999-2006)


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    Debbie Downer was definitely an upper — one of Rachel Dratch's funniest SNL creations. Dratch had no fear or ego in her quest to get laughs, including often playing boys and men. There was an oversexed Harry Potter, Sheldon from Wake Up Wakefield! and Abe Scheinwald. As the female half of the couple known as the Luvahs, college professors with lots of icky PDA and little sexual shame, she was downright hysterical. 

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  • Molly Shannon (1995-2001)


    Image via NBC

    One name: Mary Katherine Gallagher. SNL fans are as divided on Molly Shannon's overeager Catholic schoolgirl as they are about Shannon herself. But all is forgiven whenever "Delicious Dish" is mentioned. As half of the soft-spoken NPR show, Shannon was excellent.

  • Gilda Radner (1975-1980)


    Image via NBC

    She's synonymous with SNL's early years, she was the first to be cast on the show, and she delivered classic characters, such as the irritating advice expert Roseanne Roseannadanna; Baba Wawa, a take on Barbara Walters; and Lisa Loopner of the "Nerds of Seduction" skits. She won an Emmy for Supporting Actress in a Variety Show in 1977. 

  • Jane Curtin (1975-1980)


    Image via NBC

    Speaking of kickass Weekend Update anchors, the first woman to have the gig was Jane Curtin, who also preceded Tina Fey in her incisive commentary about women. She was one of the original "Not Ready for Prime Time Players" and often called the "Queen of Deadpan." She stole the show in skits with John Belushi, Chevy Chase, and Dan Aykroyd, and her girl-next-door looks belied an acid tongue. 

  • Jan Hooks (1986-1991)


    Image via NBC

    An impressions artist, she played everyone from Bette Davis to Nancy Reagan to Sinead O'Connor, and a particularly memorable skit as Kathie Lee Gifford singing "I Didn't Evolve from You" to a monkey. She also used her singing talent on what is perhaps her most beloved character: the pathos-filled Candy Sweeney of the singing Sweeney Sisters.

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