When you start thinking about the best Saturday Night Live cast members, some famous names come up in the conversation. Some of today’s best comedic artists got their national start on this improv show, including some you might have forgotten about in recent years.
Although every list is subjective, here are some of the best performers who are part of the SNL alumni.
1. Eddie Murphy
Murphy should be given credit for saving SNL. He arrived when the show had its worst reviews and ratings in history. The character sketches he delivered made viewers care about it again, and he was even hosting while still a regular. Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood might be one of the best ideas ever to reach American TV sets.
2. Will Ferrell
Ferrell is one of the comedic performers who communicates humor non-verbally as much as he does when he speaks. Although his impressions were typically funny and over the top, it’s the swagger he brought to each performance that leaves a positive mark.
3. Phil Hartman
Hartman is SNL’s consummate professional. He was almost 40 when he joined the cast in 1986, but his experience at that time led to SNL having one of its best casts during that era. You could say that he was the best actor that gets counted as alumni.
4. John Belushi
We often talk about Belushi’s death more than his talent, and it is time to shift the conversation. His crazy performances established his talent, but his dialed-back spots delivered well for SNL.
5. Chris Farley
Farley did an excellent job with his physical comedy, especially with the Matt Foley character. Although some of the stuff was over-the-top on purpose, you could tell there was a sensible foundation behind each bit. How can anyone stifle a laugh at his Chippendales audition?
Additional SNL cast members that have made a lasting impact on comedy include Chevy Chase, Dan Akroyd, Tina Fey, Gilda Radner, and Bill Murray.