International Women's Day

International Women’s Day: The Women of SNL

todayMarch 8, 2022 115 1

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By Hannah Brown
Web Content Contributor

When digging through 47 seasons’ worth of archives since 1975, it’s obvious that women-dominated sketches became more apparent in the mid-2000s. For many of these female comedians, their reign on the stage has already come to an end, and International Women’s Day is a perfect time to commemorate their performances and contributions to the late-night comedy showcase.

Saturday Night Live is known for having an ever-changing cast dynamic, churning out more recognizable names in the industry than any other medium. What was once just a dream of joining the SNL family, these women used their time in the spotlight to elevate their impressions and comedic skills before continuing on to other projects.

Known for her “Weekend Updates” and reoccurring impression of deemed lookalike Sarah Palin, Tina Fey’s nine-year duration with SNL cemented her as one of the top female cast members of all time.

She also became the first female lead writer on the show from 1999 until 2006. Shortly before her departure, she wrote Mean Girls in 2004. This came full circle in 2018 when she starred in a Mean Girl’s sketch on SNL, where her desire to star as a teenager in her own Broadway musical becomes overshadowed by Lin-Manuel Miranda adding her to the infamous Burn Book.

The Primetime Emmy and Golden Globe winner is also known for creating “30 Rock,” a sitcom loosely based on her SNL days. Since 2006, she has made several appearances on the show, most recently in February of this year.

On the other end of SNL’s well-loved duo, Amy Poehler became the only female to be promoted from a featured player to a full cast member during her first year on the show in 2001. For their 30th season in 2004, she was a part of the first all-female beginning team when she became a co-anchor for SNL’s “Weekend Update” sketch with Tina Fey.

And while many cast members look uncanny to who they’re impersonating, Amy’s looks always seemed to comically miss the mark, especially when acting as Hillary Clinton. After seven years, she would go on to play Leslie Knope in “Parks and Recreation” for seven seasons and act in several movies including “Baby Mama” alongside Tina Fey.

A current player this season, Kate McKinnon has gifted audiences with spot-on impressions and hilarious performances. Whether for her natural ability at making others laugh or her incredible talent in portraying real-life figures, she always manages to make her performances comedy-gold.

This makes it all the less surprising that she has been nominated close to ten times for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series during her time on SNL, winning the category in 2016 and 2017. Her frequent political portrayals of Hillary Clinton along with big names like Jane Lynch and Justin Bieber have led her to be involved in over 800 sketches so far, giving her the honorary title of being the queen of SNL.

Some of her sketches I would recommend are “Close Encounter” and “Another Close Encounter.”

Along with Kate, other female cast members in the show’s 47th season include Aidy Bryant with funny sketches like “Mattress Store” and Chloe Fineman, a recent regular addition.

Other alums include Rachel Dratch known for her fictional character Debbie Downer, Maya Rudolph for her Beyonce impressions and Kristen Wiig with her eclectic character impressions.

And while spaces in front of and behind the camera are male-dominated and widely responsible for the 926 episodes to date, there are continual shifts in cast members and writers, which give women a fair chance in the typically male-dominated industry.

Some women who have contributed from the writers’ room include Paula Pell who has written over three hundred episodes and Emily Spivey who has written close to two hundred sketches over twenty years. With its substantial number of episodes and sketches, of course SNL will constantly rotate through a number of different writers.

Tune in this Saturday, March 12th to see this week’s host, Zoe Kravitz. You can find Saturday Night Live on NBC at 10:30 CT or through streaming services like Peacock and Hulu +.

Featured Image by KTSW Multimedia

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