Tonight, NBC is breaking out the special The Women of SNL decicated to the hilarious chicks who have graced the Studio 8H stage inside 30 Rock. And that got us thinking (always a dangerous prospect): in the 35 years of Not Ready for Primetime Players, who stands out among all the funny ladies?
Victoria Jackson? Julia Louis-Dreyfus? Janeane Garofalo? Kristen Wiig? All very funny, but not quite up to the level of our Top 5...
1. Tina Fey: She does a better Sarah Palin than Sarah Palin herself. Fey became a writer on the show in 1997, was promoted to head writer just two years later and was the first female to hold the position. After that, she was added to the cast to perform in sketches. She coanchored Weekend Update, went on to write Mean Girls and create the Emmy-winning 30 Rock and still finds time to return to SNL as a guest host.
2. Gilda Radner: This O.G. SNL leading lady spent five years on the show—in fact, she was the first castmember officially signed on. We love her for her most famous character, Roseanne Rosannadanna, a frizzy-haired gossip who would yap about the private habits of Hollywood stars in that voice. She also did a spot-on Barbara Walters impression, calling herself Baba Wawa. Radner, who married actor Gene Wilder in 1984, sadly died at age 42 from ovarian cancer.
3. Amy Poehler: This platinum-haired goofball was a castmember for seven seasons of SNL, from 2001 until 2008. She is close pals with Fey, and coanchored Weekend Update with her for a season. Poehler, married to Will Arnett, left the show to have a baby and now stars in NBC's Parks and Recreation. We love her for her dead-on, uptight Hillary Clinton and her loony character Amber, the one-legged hypoglycemic.
4. Molly Shannon: Will forever be worshipped for this line: "Sometimes, when I get nervous, I put my fingers under my arms then smell them..." Ahhh, her Mary Katherine Gallagher was a sketch standard during Shannon's 1995-2001 run, along with her NPR parodying Delicious Dish, with deadpan double entendres about food recipes were genius. After some cinematic misstemps, Shannon resurfaced last year on Glee.
5. Jane Curtin: Another original SNL castmember, Curtin held her own opposite John Belushi, Dan Akroyd and Bill Murray and anchored Weekend Update, but is best known for her Conehead character. After her 1975-80 tenure, she went on to star as Allie in the '80s hit Kate & Allie then went on to act on Broadway and occasional TV appearances.