The Women of SNL: Their Top 10 Characters


Tonight’s two-hour retrospective, The Women of SNL, looks back at some of the show’s funniest female cast members, and from what we hear Molly Shannon, Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey, Nora Dunn, Ana Gasteyer, Rachel Dratch, Cheri Oteri, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Laraine Newman, Amy Poehler, and Kristen Wiig will all be in attendance. But who would be invited if this was a reunion of their funniest characters? We’ll countdown our 10 favorites after the jump.

Roseanne Roseannadanna – Gilda Radner (1975-1980)

The wild-haired Roseanne Roseannadanna appeared in the Weekend Update segments, responding to recurring letters from Richard Fader of Fort Lee, New Jersey and grossing out the audience with her stories filled with graphic details about bodily functions. Her hilariously unaware catchphrase: “What are ya tryin’ to do, make me sick?!”

Prymaat Conehead – Jane Curtin (1975-1980)

While Jane Curtin was known for her deadpan delivery as an anchor on Weekend Update, we loved her even more as the monotone mother of the Conehead clan.

Pat – Julia Sweeney (1990 – 1994)

It was impossible to determine Pat’s gender, but that never stopped people from trying to guess, and surprisingly, the rather simple punchline never got old.

Mary Katherine Gallagher – Molly Shannon (1994 – 2001)

Mary Katherine Gallagher was a nerdy Catholic school girl who would stick her hands in her armpits and then smell them when she was nervous. Which was most of the time. She was often fond of flashing her underwear while doing spastic splits and cartwheels.

Arianna, The Spartan Cheerleaders – Cheri Oteri (1995 – 2000)

Cheerleaders aren’t usually that funny. But The Spartans were different. Arianna and Craig (Will Ferrell) were a pair of cheerleaders who didn’t make their school’s squad, so they started their own — and stuck to C-list sporting events, like chess tournaments and swim meets.

Margaret Jo McCullen – Ana Gasteyer (1996 – 2002)

Margaret-Jo McCullen was always our favorite half of The Delicious Dish team, and as it turns out, the soft-spoken character was one that Ana Gasteyer created with fellow comedienne Leslie Newton back when she was a member of The Groundlings.

Debbie Downer – Rachel Dratch (1999 – 2006)

In Rachel Dratch’s Debbie we found an unlikely hero: someone who was brave enough to give a face to the feline AIDS crisis.

Whitney Houston – Maya Rudolph (2000-2007)

During her seven-season run on SNL, Maya Rudolph was the master of celebrity impersonations — from Oprah to Beyonce to Donatella Versace — but our favorite has to be her over-the-top take on poor, cracked out Whitney Houston.

Dakota Fanning – Amy Poehler (2001-2010)

Amy Poehler was the first female cast member promoted from featured player to full cast member in her first season on the show. Her Dakota Fanning series was an instant classic, perfectly encapsulating the precocious weirdness of the young Hollywood actress.

Gov. Sarah Palin – Tina Fey (2000 – 2006)

Tina Fey won an Emmy for best guest performance in a comedy series last year thanks to her freakishly spot-on imitation of Sarah Palin; her repeated appearances on the show helped jump start sluggish ratings and the sketch above became’s most-watched viral video ever.