Saturday Night Live doesn’t hire slouches. If you’re lucky enough to grace that iconic stage, you know how to make people laugh. Simply put, anyone who’s been on SNL is a funny person. Yet, not every cast member from Lorne Michaels’s comedic institution has gone on to take the world by storm. Some remain relevant, popping up in numerous movies and shows and making us smile. Some aren’t as lucky and quietly fade away. They can’t all be Kristen Wiig or Will Ferrell.
There are many, many SNL performers who deserve more, whether on the show itself or outside of it. Let’s take a wander down (recent) memory lane and highlight some SNL stars who should be much, much bigger.
I’ll be making this argument until the end of time: Maya Rudolph is one of the greatest Saturday Night Live cast members of all time. No question. While Rudolph has gone on to co-star in several big hits (Bridesmaids anyone?) she hasn’t become the leading lady she should be. This is a woman who oozes comedy from every pore, she is never not funny. Better yet, she is a terrific dramatic actress too! There’s a silliness to Rudolph, she’s absolutely fearless when making a joke. But there’s also a realness with her that would serve a drama incredibly well.
Maya Rudolph will never go away, she’s always going to be making her presence known onscreen. But she deserves to be a star. She’s a leading lady, not just a supporting part.
Bayer is instantly likable. She has that wonderful, big smile and those bright, cheerful eyes. You can’t help but be drawn to her. She also knows her way around a sketch, has killer instincts and fantastic delivery.
Vanessa Bayer needs her own show or movie. She’s has one too! She stars in Sound Advice, the painfully funny web series from Above Average. In it, she gives awful musical ideas to numerous real-world acts. She plays her part as a loud, oblivious know-it-all perfectly. Seeing this character – or any other – in a longer format would be a joy. Bayer is an actress who you can easily see leading a show or movie.
Tim Meadows is one of the longest-serving members in SNL history and the show was lucky to have him. A comedy journeyman, Meadows deftly delivered in every sketch he was in. Whether he was the lead player or a supporting part, Meadows killed it every time.
He seems so well liked by the other members of the show too. That’s obvious when you see how many of them have included him in their projects. That’s no surprise because Tim Meadows is still terrifically funny. He has that ability to play a straight man or an absurd whacky character. Sometimes his line delivery will be dry, sometimes it’ll be absurd. Either way, it’s always wonderful.
Tim Meadows aimed for big screen success with the flop The Ladies Man. That wasn’t a great movie, sure, but Tim Meadows is most definitely a great performer. We need more of him.
Why aren’t we seeing much, much more of Nasim Pedrad? For awhile, it seemed like she was about to blow up in a big, big way. She was always a reliable, talented part of Saturday Night Live before she departed to co-star on the ill-fated (and bad) Mulaney on Fox. That show didn’t last long and left Pedrad out of the SNL loop. Since then she’s popped up on New Girl, Scream Queens and Old Navy commercials but not much else.
Pedrad is young and bright and quick-witted and would fit perfectly on any number of shows or movies. She also has a terrific voice and would do splendidly in animated films. There’s a number of ways to put Nasim Pedrad front-and-center. Take your pick, Hollywood!
The Good Neighbor Crew (Kyle Mooney, Beck Bennett, Dave McCary)
This one is a bit tricky because all of these guys are, like Bayer, still on SNL. Yet they’re not being utilized to their potential. Not yet.
Mooney, Bennett and McCary got their start in the fantastic comedy group Good Neighbor (along with former SNL writer Nick Rutherford). I was aware of their work several years before they splashed on SNL was very excited when they got the call to New York. Since then they have turned in strong work (McCary is a director) but they haven’t been giving us as many digital shorts as they should be.
These guys should be the new Lonely Island, turning in terrific and silly comedy shorts every week. I can understand why SNL is hesitant to try the same thing again. They don’t want to seem like they’re mimicking their own alumni. But if it’s funny, it’s funny. While Mooney, Bennett and McCary are a great addition to the current SNL line-up, the show could be using them in a better way. There’s a void on Saturday Night Live and these three guys could fill it easily.