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

E! DC Universe ViacomCBS TCM fast and furious TCA 2017 WarnerMedia 72 Emmy Awards video Food Network Photos Infographic Trailer DirecTV Reality Competition rt labs book movie FOX A&E comics foreign Marvel Studios comic Thanksgiving USA Pop Mary poppins period drama TV Land spider-man PlayStation Awards telelvision scene in color rotten cancelled tv talk historical drama Star Trek king arthur Rocketman AMC Plus BBC One king kong VH1 Family green book festival casting Awards Tour Film dc MCU Cartoon Network Tarantino Polls and Games politics worst movies disaster Paramount facebook Fox Searchlight Disney streaming service australia laika political drama Ellie Kemper psycho National Geographic Hear Us Out Action Spectrum Originals The CW ratings cinemax quibi kong LGBT serial killer Election Tomatazos critics crossover mcc trailers spinoff nature docudrama miniseries APB Amazon Studios cartoon Rock documentary comic book movie independent ghosts Anna Paquin thriller emmy awards Schedule WGN classics dragons TruTV free movies Christmas zombie 007 Crunchyroll American Society of Cinematographers NYCC Reality Showtime IFC Films TNT PBS Captain marvel new star wars movies canceled TV shows blaxploitation cooking cats reboot name the review Film Festival movies archives Nickelodeon reviews Funimation what to watch die hard TCA Awards finale art house Nat Geo Song of Ice and Fire teaser Ghostbusters mission: impossible Broadway dexter satire criterion Comedy El Rey 45 Apple true crime feel good franchise transformers doctor who Best and Worst Character Guide award winner DC streaming service parents anthology hispanic heritage month Teen canceled binge concert legend suspense Pet Sematary Quiz Ovation hollywood YouTube Premium Watching Series crime thriller cults spanish CNN 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards CBS Acorn TV gangster Netflix Christmas movies richard e. Grant discovery biography Emmys CBS All Access Mystery HBO Go Apple TV+ scorecard Disney+ Disney Plus Black Mirror Chilling Adventures of Sabrina San Diego Comic-Con spain Spike TLC police drama indiana jones ABC OneApp TV movies posters Superheroes versus Valentine's Day Television Academy universal monsters comiccon films book adaptation Disney Certified Fresh President twilight VOD comic book movies genre Arrowverse sag awards The Walt Disney Company screen actors guild marvel comics Podcast obituary action-comedy 1990s Biopics toronto renewed TV shows Sundance rt archives robots christmas movies batman vampires stoner fresh television blockbusters Logo festivals game of thrones First Reviews debate Cannes GoT Fox News Fantasy saw composers dogs Legendary royal family 2020 Exclusive Video Travel Channel Lucasfilm MSNBC remakes Instagram Live sitcom slasher Universal Pictures harry potter heist movie 2015 Countdown 24 frames women FX ID 90s cars Star Wars documentaries unscripted toy story Interview DGA Crackle basketball TCA kaiju adenture Cosplay aliens 21st Century Fox romantic comedy james bond a nightmare on elm street LGBTQ Sundance Now jamie lee curtis TV renewals 2016 HBO children's TV Pixar DC Comics Wes Anderson Spring TV RT History Netflix Britbox space dreamworks The Academy black comedy BET war godzilla Winners romance Fall TV spy thriller 2021 rom-coms GLAAD NBC 71st Emmy Awards Baby Yoda dceu Mudbound Marvel Television razzies venice cancelled TV series Pride Month Grammys sequel Tokyo Olympics YouTube Red SundanceTV comic books Super Bowl Pacific Islander game show CW Seed Holidays best Music Alien theme song Sci-Fi chucky TCA Winter 2020 IFC boxoffice werewolf Hallmark live action based on movie Epix pirates of the caribbean hispanic justice league ESPN italian Starz superhero Tumblr Video Games sopranos young adult Warner Bros. Avengers Turner Classic Movies NBA PaleyFest Western Box Office Musicals rt labs critics edition ABC Signature joker Calendar japanese kids monster movies Binge Guide cancelled TV shows Stephen King Lifetime Christmas movies 4/20 breaking bad Bravo vs. asian-american Comic-Con@Home 2021 CMT YouTube comedies dramedy stop motion golden globe awards FXX know your critic Shudder Red Carpet RT21 MTV rotten movies we love E3 See It Skip It slashers supernatural witnail Set visit The Purge crime drama Masterpiece 73rd Emmy Awards Discovery Channel Academy Awards black Television Critics Association History diversity scary movies cancelled television Comic Book Horror high school A24 sequels Drama AMC all-time TIFF Freeform zombies Mary Tyler Moore psychological thriller football ITV 93rd Oscars boxing Hallmark Christmas movies child's play adventure ABC Family indie docuseries X-Men Amazon FX on Hulu south america Tubi Premiere Dates prank Disney Plus Extras The Witch Rocky spanish language BBC 2018 Endgame Sundance TV 99% New York Comic Con news biopic series Holiday GIFs YA Peacock Oscars video on demand animated Women's History Month USA Network Turner natural history superman Mary Poppins Returns Rom-Com Walt Disney Pictures wonder woman live event golden globes mockumentary Animation TBS travel Sony Pictures Trivia blockbuster spider-verse sports new zealand SDCC Pirates Chernobyl Opinion Pop TV Columbia Pictures Marvel streaming movies Apple TV Plus singing competition Mindy Kaling nfl revenge Adult Swim halloween tv french strong female leads Esquire Amazon Prime international streaming Lifetime directors jurassic park Toys dark Black History Month HBO Max halloween Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Musical new york critic resources Hulu Paramount Plus Emmy Nominations Sneak Peek Neflix scary latino mob Dark Horse Comics cops Marathons 2019 The Arrangement Brie Larson 20th Century Fox Image Comics BAFTA Universal nbcuniversal Creative Arts Emmys adaptation TV Superheroe Vudu Shondaland IMDb TV Classic Film BET Awards Winter TV deadpool Year in Review elevated horror technology The Walking Dead zero dark thirty mutant Syfy Amazon Prime Video lord of the rings japan Trophy Talk Heroines Martial Arts Elton John popular marvel cinematic universe target OWN TV One olympics worst Country anime Kids & Family First Look BBC America aapi Writers Guild of America medical drama hidden camera SXSW Disney Channel crime social media talk show screenings Summer Comedy Central 2017 hist stand-up comedy Comics on TV Nominations science fiction Lionsgate VICE Paramount Network