How the 2005 Cast of Saturday Night Live Took Over TV in a Decade

10 Mid-Aught SNL-ers Who Rule the Small Screen

by | February 13, 2015 | Comments

Since its October 11, 1975 pilot with host George Carlin, Lorne Michaels’ beloved brainchild, Saturday Night Live, has been instigating laughter across the nation and shooting its ensemble cast to Hollywood stardom. As SNL celebrates its big 4-0 this Sunday, we take a look at one special cast in particular, season 31’s troupe of funny players, who have since become TV comedy’s elite. Featuring such talents as Kristen Wiig, Fred Armisen, Jason Sudeikis, Amy Poehler, and Tina Fey (not to mention Seth Meyers, who was a writer on SNL that year), the 2005-2006 season created some of TV’s biggest stars of the small screen.


Tina Fey


SNL Tenure: 1997 to 2006

Shining SNL Moments: You can’t talk Tina Fey’s SNL legacy without mention of 2008 Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Such a conversation will also lead to at least one person quipping, “I can see Russia from my house!” With her Palin impersonation, Fey — by that time a practiced Weekend Update anchor and tenured presence in the writers’ room — arguably had as much an impact from a PR standpoint on the 2008 election as Katie Couric did with her historic, Walter Cronkite Award-winning interview.

Post-SNL TV Domination: Fey’s most recent contribution to the small screen, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmitt starring Ellie Kemper, drops on Netflix Friday, Mar. 6. And then, of course, there’s 30 Rock. The decorated series never saw the ratings it deserved, but this Fey and Alec Baldwin-starrer goes down in history as one of the smartest, most meta jokes-by-the-second series this side of the millennium.


Fred Armisen


SNL Tenure: 2002 to 2013

Shining SNL Moments: Sure, he did an impeccable Barack Obama and a hilarious Prince, but Armisen’s strongest suit was turning his quirk dial to 11. His unadulterated commitment to absurdity shone brightest with “Garth and Kat” alongside Kristen Wiig. Together, they would improvise holiday-themed songs on Weekend Update, inevitably losing each other along the way and often breaking down in laughter by skit’s end. This ill-prepared but gratingly chipper singer-songwriter duo made for one of the segment’s more memorable guests.

Post-SNL TV Domination: Armisen’s absurdist tendencies eventually led him to co-creating cultish comedy series Portlandia with Carrie Brownstein. IFC’s sketch show, recently renewed for two more seasons, features the two comics portraying various Portland, OR dwellers in all their granola hipster glory. Armisen’s had equally silly guest spots on Broad City, Modern Family, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and nearly a dozen others.


Chris Parnell


SNL Tenure: 1998 to 2006

Shining SNL Moments: His weirdo characters were plenty (Merv “The Perv” Watson!), but Chris Parnell will be best remembered for his stand-out impressions of many celebrities including Eminem, Tom Brokaw, Charles Gibson, George W. Bush, Lance Bass, Simon Cowell, and Wolf Blitzer.

Post-SNL TV Domination: You can’t walk into a TV without hitting smack into Chris Parnell, who has made a career as one of comedy’s most prolific character actors since leaving SNL in 2006. With guest spots on Curb Your Enthusiasm, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Glee, and Garfunkel and Oates — never mind recurring roles on Archer, Suburgatory, and Drunk History — Chris Parnell is pretty much everywhere on the small screen.


Bill Hader


SNL Tenure: 2005 to 2014

Shining SNL Moments: Recurring characters don’t get much better than Weekend Update’s New York correspondent, Stefon. With an encyclopedic knowledge of the latest and greatest in Manhattan nightlife, Hader’s Stefon is the go-to millennial for a night on the town. Chatting about turn-ups by promoters like Nick Nolte & Gabbana and Tranderson Cooper, he promises a night you won’t soon forget…if it weren’t for the Ketamine-induced grogginess.

Post-SNL TV Domination: Hader’s been making a name for himself outside SNL for years as an honorary member of the Judd Apatow comedy club — Superbad, Pineapple Express, et al. — and he turned in a touching performance in last year’s The Skeleton Twins, but he’s also been flying under the radar on TV, providing his dynamic vocal talents to series like South Park, Bob’s Burgers, The Awesomes, and The Venture Bros. (Many people have no idea that Hader was a writer on 27 episodes of South Park). He also recently made an almost-unrecognizable cameo as Hitler in FXX’s new Certified Fresh comedy Man Seeking Woman.


Amy Poehler


SNL Tenure: 2001 to 2010

Shining SNL Moments: Poehler is cited today as the first SNL cast member to be nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series at the 2008 Emmys. She lost to Samantha Who?‘s Jean Smart. She lost again in 2009 to Pushing Daisies‘ Kristin Chenoweth, but being the first of her kind is no small feat! The nomination came largely due to her work as Weekend Update co-anchor, first with Tina Fey through 2006, then with Seth Meyers. But the character she’s perhaps most remembered for is her crotchety version of Hilary Clinton.

Post-SNL TV Domination: Oh, Parks and Recreation: how we love thee. The Office-style NBC comedy from Greg Daniels and Michael Schur has only gotten better with age, and its ensemble cast of Poehler, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, and more is a complete knockout. Poehler took home the Golden Globe in 2014 — while hosting the awards show with Tina Fey, mind you — for her portrayal of Pawnee-lover and dedicated public official Leslie Knope. She’s also currently executive producer of Comedy Central’s Certified Fresh series Broad City.


Will Forte


SNL Tenure: 2002 to 2010

Shining SNL Moments: Will Forte brought a unique brand of funny weirdness to SNL with characters Jon Bovi and The Falconer. And how can you talk about this era of SNL without mentioning MacGruber, the MacGyver-like character who went on to star in his own cult hit comedy film?

Post-SNL TV Domination: With dozen of guest spots since leaving SNL in 2010, most notably on Conan and 30 Rock, Forte has finally landed a leading role, starring in the upcoming The Last Man on Earth, Fox’s new futuristic comedy premiering March 1.


Andy Samberg


SNL Tenure: 2000 to 2007

Shining SNL Moments: Another comic with a knack for impersonations, Samberg’s Nicolas Cage and Rick Santorum always brought the laughs. But it was his SNL shorts with The Lonely Island — most all of which went viral on arrival — that he’s remembered for today. To quote Kanye West here, his Justin Timberlake collab, “Dick in a Box,” is one of the best videos of all time!

Post-SNL TV Domination: Samberg’s work on Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine, an action comedy series set in a Brooklyn precinct, scored him a Golden Globe win in 2014 for best actor in a television series musical or comedy — and it was Certified Fresh!


Jason Sudeikis


SNL Tenure: 2005 to 2013

Shining SNL Moments: Besides being his run’s token hottie (sorry, Fred Armisen), Sudeikis also laid the laughs on thick. A fan-favorite is his take on Vice President Joe Biden. The VP himself has approved the actor’s impersonation as “Big Daddy Joe” — a raucous, aloof man’s man who is “monkey strong, brother!” His 2012 Vice Presidential debate with Taran Killam’s Paul Ryan is pure gold.

Post-SNL TV Domination: Like many of these talents, Sudeikis has found sizeable success both on the silver and small screens with Fox’s The Cleveland Show, HBO’s Eastbound and Down, and feature films like We’re the Millers and the Horrible Bosses franchise.


Kristen Wiig


SNL Tenure: 2005 to 2013

Shining SNL Moments: It was a sad day when Wiig left SNL for a bigger Hollywood pond. Her eight years on the series showcased her as one of the best silly women working today. Her ability to improv and impersonate is the SNL gold standard. A particular standout is her drunken take on the wine-guzzling Kathy Lee Gifford. As far as SNL originals, look no further than her spotlight-hungry “don?t-make-me-sing” party host or her deformed Maharelle sister of Lawrence Welk Show fame.

Post-SNL TV Domination: Wiig knows a good thing when she sees it. Since SNL, she joined Michael Bluth and co. for Arrested Development‘s fourth installment as a young Lucille. She also starred alongside Tobey Maguire and Will Ferrell in 2014’s Certified Fresh miniseries, The Spoils of Babylon.


Tag Cloud

Cartoon Network television Drama latino social media Shudder versus TIFF Pirates Cannes GLAAD ESPN Freeform quibi Classic Film Red Carpet TCA 2017 christmas movies Awards Tour supernatural Paramount Network Amazon Prime Video technology ghosts dramedy jamie lee curtis comiccon justice league sitcom casting GoT Video Games Mary poppins Pop Crackle breaking bad Oscars Star Wars Dark Horse Comics Sneak Peek IFC Films game of thrones Set visit Horror SXSW golden globes Rocketman Grammys universal monsters Avengers BBC Reality dceu cancelled TV shows Brie Larson singing competition witnail Anna Paquin Marvel Studios YA Nominations Mary Tyler Moore Music serial killer foreign CNN Mystery Showtime X-Men Britbox Apple TV Plus Black Mirror crime drama OneApp Tomatazos DC streaming service romantic comedy Ellie Kemper San Diego Comic-Con Disney+ Disney Plus south america Mudbound mockumentary Stephen King Country spanish language Superheroe Election adaptation Hallmark Christmas movies Rocky Chilling Adventures of Sabrina cars BET cults Black History Month Hallmark Tarantino green book TCA aliens Emmys kids cartoon Netflix Christmas movies LGBT FOX Esquire series Pixar boxoffice Amazon Studios Polls and Games Western Awards A&E Warner Bros. cancelled TV series medical drama binge crossover zero dark thirty Travel Channel Reality Competition Sundance doctor who YouTube Red composers Cosplay Acorn TV ratings Extras anthology science fiction Logo SDCC Marvel President directors docudrama screenings History Calendar Disney streaming service Musicals Binge Guide Sundance Now Mary Poppins Returns elevated horror National Geographic Women's History Month zombies TNT Trivia 2016 tv talk documentary Ghostbusters Holiday GIFs sequel renewed TV shows Toys award winner DC Universe DGA Fox News Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt cops police drama Winter TV book Elton John El Rey robots blaxploitation cancelled television Apple TV+ YouTube Premium Interview Mindy Kaling E3 Writers Guild of America Disney Channel what to watch Emmy Nominations sports Ovation VH1 The Purge YouTube historical drama First Look VICE CW Seed Discovery Channel theme song free movies Superheroes PaleyFest political drama war FXX Food Network facebook See It Skip It Comedy Central Sundance TV Turner Tubi 2018 007 reviews Pride Month CBS All Access 71st Emmy Awards NYCC AMC USA ABC Family halloween Trailer nature WarnerMedia Watching Series animated politics space SundanceTV 2017 Turner Classic Movies NBC American Society of Cinematographers spinoff TV renewals 2019 Creative Arts Emmys Holidays WGN TV Netflix Comic Book CBS Amazon Fall TV diversity true crime Character Guide Pop TV ABC Lionsgate Nickelodeon cats Sony Pictures zombie Amazon Prime unscripted 2015 Action Paramount adventure MSNBC slashers hist The Witch First Reviews dragons Funimation Podcast Marathons Infographic Super Bowl travel sag awards Summer E! TruTV Chernobyl Vudu FX on Hulu game show The Arrangement festivals LGBTQ Kids & Family video FX Film Festival 45 IFC romance TCA Winter 2020 Syfy strong female leads Arrowverse indie mutant Best and Worst Endgame Rom-Com Countdown rotten movies we love teaser ITV Walt Disney Pictures 20th Century Fox scary movies Lifetime Christmas movies Tumblr TCM OWN Bravo Family comics vampires Starz toy story independent HBO cooking Year in Review period drama Captain marvel Valentine's Day reboot crime TV Land 2020 Rock TLC natural history spain CMT miniseries Adult Swim hispanic TBS 21st Century Fox talk show Television Academy comic anime streaming Nat Geo MCU biography psycho Song of Ice and Fire Shondaland dogs cancelled Spike Teen Film screen actors guild Spectrum Originals franchise Heroines Sci-Fi RT21 Christmas Fantasy blockbuster batman joker RT History harry potter based on movie Opinion Hulu Marvel Television movie spy thriller discovery spider-man MTV Comedy Spring TV Disney Plus Quiz Musical Biopics stand-up comedy New York Comic Con Masterpiece Premiere Dates The Walking Dead DC Comics Trophy Talk richard e. Grant HBO Max children's TV Peacock movies Baby Yoda dc 24 frames Universal Apple disaster A24 transformers Comics on TV thriller Academy Awards BBC America Disney PBS Certified Fresh name the review Pet Sematary Photos Animation canceled werewolf DirecTV Martial Arts Columbia Pictures APB Winners Lucasfilm cinemax revenge Star Trek Thanksgiving Crunchyroll canceled TV shows USA Network psychological thriller Box Office finale crime thriller Epix The CW Lifetime Schedule