Steve Martin once claimed, “Comedy isn’t pretty,” and as one of the experts of the genre, you’d think he would have some idea of what he was talking about. As it would turn out, Martin was actually way off base with that quote, as hundreds of gorgeous and hilarious women would go on to prove again and again. Steve Martin, himself, should have known this, too (and probably did—most of what he said was tongue-in-cheek), as many of those women started their comedy careers on Saturday Night Live, the same show Martin hosted dozens of times while building his reputation as a comedy legend. As with the male cast members of SNL, the women hired on the show need to be pretty funny in order to keep their jobs, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t look fantastic while making us laugh.
Saturday Night Live has had its ups and downs throughout the years, and these funny beauties represent both the peaks and troughs of the comedy world. Of course, that’s not the main idea behind this list, as we’re more focused on their sex appeal. It’s telling, however, that these women often played characters in scenes where their beauty played a role. It would be pigeonholing them to pretend that this was all they were, though, so we would be remiss if we didn’t point out that many of these women are brilliant actresses, writers, directors, and so forth, in addition to their great looks. If you don’t care about any of that and just care about matters of the flesh, keep reading to discover the 15 hottest female cast members in the history of SNL.
15. Jenny Slate
Jenny Slate was instantly memorable during her one season on SNL from 2009 to 2010, and became the talk of the comedy world as early as when her first episode aired. This isn’t an overwhelming success story though, as Slate’s notoriety was the result of a flub some feel is responsible for her tenure being so short in the first place. In a sketch entitled “Biker Chick Chat,” Slate was playing one of the titular biker chicks, with a running gag being that she would say the word “flipping” practically every sentence. To have her say the word so many times was practically tempting fate, and in a mistake almost anyone would have eventually made, Slate said a certain other f-word that would coincidentally make censors flip out.
Slate didn’t actually lose her job over the incident, as she stayed on the show the rest of the season. NBC decided not to renew her contract, though, and many feel her flub may have been a contributing figure in that decision. Slate has since become well known on her own through the success of Marcel the Shell With Shoes On, a character she co-created and voiced. Slate also starred in the film Obvious Child, which earned her a nomination for an Independent Spirit Award.
14. Kristen Wiig
Special SNL cast members are given bombastic send-offs for their final episodes and with a 7 season tenure from 2005-2012, Kristen Wiig was definitely deserving of the honor. It is perhaps both surprising and completely understandable that instead of going out with a big laugh or making a silly face, that Wiig instead was given her send-off in the form of a song and dance routine set to The Rolling Stones song, “She’s A Rainbow.” Wiig occasionally played some ugly characters like her recurring role of Gilly, but she always had an underlying grace and beauty to her every scene, and it continues to shine through her film career.
Wiig is one of the bigger success stories to come out of SNL, and in fact, her star power started to skyrocket while she was still on the show. Wiig co-wrote and starred in Bridesmaids in 2011, and her writing would make her the second female cast member of SNL to be nominated for an Academy Award, and the first cast member of either gender to be nominated for writing. Wiig may not have won that award, but she continues to star in independent films such as The Skeleton Twins and mainstream blockbusters like Ghostbusters and Sausage Party, earning rave reviews while she does so.
13. Cecily Strong
Cecily Strong might be “The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party,” but plenty of guys are going to try and start that conversation anyway. Strong’s career with SNL was off to a rocky start when she was hired in 2012, as a stint co-hosting “Weekend Update” with Colin Jost ended with Jost looking for a new co-anchor. Strong managed to keep her job as a regular cast member, though, and remains on the show today four seasons later. Despite her lack of skills reading the fake news, Strong manages to shine in sketches where she can play bizarre and often beautiful characters, including that “Girl at the Party,” amongst plenty of others.
Strong’s career is still in its early stages, and she has already made several film and TV appearances outside of Studio 8H. Strong had minor roles in major films like The Boss and Ghostbusters, and has been featured in guest roles on Angie Tribeca and Superstore. Despite her lack of success on “Weekend Update,” Strong still has a significant resume as a political comedian, as well, as she was hired to be the featured entertainer at the 2015 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.
12. Jan Hooks
Jan Hooks was a highlight of Saturday Night Live for the five seasons she spent on the show, from 1986 to 1991. In general, the ‘80s aren’t the most fondly remembered time of the show, outside of a few standout stars. Although Hooks may not have been as successful as an Eddie Murphy or Dana Carvey, she definitely stood out on the show itself, thanks to her considerable comedic talents. Hooks left SNL in 1991 due to an offer to become a regular on the sitcom Designing Women, and also in part because of the stress related to performing a weekly live show.
Hooks only made a handful of film appearances throughout her career, managing to steal her scene in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and playing a small role in Batman Returns, amongst a few others. Her true calling was television, as she held memorable recurring roles on popular sitcoms including 3rd Rock From the Sun, 30 Rock, and The Simpsons. Hooks passed away in 2014 as a result of throat cancer.
11. Laraine Newman
The original “Not Ready For Prime Time Players” may have been intentionally sloppy in their presentation, but that didn’t mean they didn’t look good while they were goofing off. Laraine Newman was the best-looking of the bunch, and held that status the entire first five seasons of the show, until she left in 1980. She also had perhaps the best resume thus far out of any of her initial co-stars, already earning comedic cred as a founding member of The Groundlings. Playing to her good looks, one of Newman’s best known SNL characters was called Sheri the Valley Girl, although she would also prove her range by going against this type as a member of the Conehead family.
As with many of the other original cast members, post-SNL, Newman has had a wide and varied career spanning all throughout the comedy world. She has appeared in dozens, if not hundreds of films and TV shows. She also became a regular contributor to a variety of newspapers and journals, including the LA Times, McSweeney’s, and the Huffington Post.
10. Sasheer Zamata
Despite once holding a reputation as the beacon of alternative comedy, SNL has always bucked towards mainstream America in one way—there have been very few people of color amongst their casts, especially on the female side of the spectrum. In fact, Sasheer Zamata was only the sixth black female to be hired in the show’s nearly 40-year history. Zamata has been on the show since 2014, and is now in her third season as a cast member.
Prior to SNL, Zamata was a regular performer at New York City’s Upright Citizen’s Brigade, and made regular appearances in a variety of MTV, Comedy Central, and YouTube series. Not only does she look good herself, but she uses her looks to impersonate some of the hottest women in entertainment as well, including Beyoncé, Tyra Banks, Rihanna, and Nicki Minaj. In addition to being one of the hottest women on the show today, Zamata is also one of the youngest, and still has a long career ahead of her.
9. Abby Elliott
Abby Elliott is a special case of the apple not falling far from the tree, while also looking nothing like the tree whatsoever. Abby is the daughter of Chris Elliott, and in 2008 she became the first child of a former SNL cast member to become a member of the cast themselves. Abby stayed on the show for four seasons, until 2012, while her father only lasted for one season, from 1994-1995. The Elliott family tree stretches back even further within SNL, as grandfather Bob Elliott appeared on an episode in 1978 as a member of “Bob & Ray.” Abby is also noteworthy for being the youngest female cast member in the history of the show, as she was only 21 when she was initially hired.
Abby’s career continues to blossom outside of her relatives’ shadows, as she has made dozens of appearances on TV shows. Abby was featured in shows like How I Met Your Mother, Inside Amy Schumer, and Happy Endings; and portrays a regular character on the Bravo series, Odd Mom Out. Despite these successes, Abby is still one of the youngest women on this list, and could continue to impress fans and look good while doing so for years to come.
8. Janeane Garofalo
Janeane Garofalo can be a somewhat controversial figure in pop culture, and her tenure with SNL was no different. Garofalo didn’t even spend an entire year on the show, quitting the middle of the 1994-95 season due to creative differences. Garofalo’s comedy, not to mention her personal style, veers toward the alternative, which could help explain why she didn’t feel at home in the more mainstream halls of Studio 8H. Garofalo was more successful as a stand-up comedian, a trade she has practiced for decades, as well as in her film career, which has seen her make appearances in dozens of popular movies.
Fans of Garofalo may be saddened to find out that she defines herself as asexual. She has regularly been critical of films she’s appeared in for contributing to attitudes that she defines as homophobic, sexist, and juvenile; using all of those words specifically to describe her time at SNL. Garofalo is fair to be critical of her time on the show, as SNL never truly recognized her talents, instead, forcing her into side roles as “secondary wives and girlfriends,” a large part of what made her leave in the middle of her one season.
7. Victoria Jackson
More so than perhaps any other former SNL cast member, Victoria Jackson has gone completely off the rails in recent years. It wouldn’t be fair to condemn the energetic young comedienne she once was for the actions of the Tea Party supporting ultra-conservative Jackson would become because she was both adorable and hilarious from 1986 to 1992 during her six seasons as one of the standout female cast members of the New York sketch institution. Jackson’s career more or less took a nosedive once she left SNL, perhaps due to her strong personal and political beliefs that permeated throughout the rest of her career.
Jackson took place in her fair share of political sketches during her tenure on SNL, but chances are that her funniest bit of political commentary has been claiming President Barack Obama is an “Islamic Jihadist.” Jackson is devoutly Christian, which influences her conservative views, and might be enough to bump her off the list entirely for some guys out there. Of course, those sorts of qualifications are extremely attractive to some other people out there, so we’ll split the difference and let her stay.
6. Nasim Pedrad
Nasim Pedrad made history as the first Middle-Eastern cast member of SNL when she was hired in 2009, and remained on the show for five seasons, until 2014. SNL has long been criticized for a lack of diversity, and as a woman born in Tehran, Iran, it obviously took a great deal of talent for Lorne Michaels and his staff to give Pedrad a chance on the show. It didn’t hurt that she looked gorgeous as well, or that she had already performed with The Groundlings and Upright Citizens Brigade, and made an appearance on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Pedrad left SNL in order to star in the sitcom Mulaney, which was in turn canceled after only one season. Not one to let the failure of the sitcom stop her burgeoning career, Pedrad has moved on to making regular guest appearances on a variety of other television shows, including New Girl and Scream Queens. Although some people criticized her choice to leave SNL for a failed sitcom, it’s clear her talents and beauty are overcoming that minor career misstep.
5. Noël Wells
Noël Wells only lasted one season on Saturday Night Live, from 2013-2014, but fans that witnessed her one season no doubt were aware of the youthful beauty she was bringing to each of her characters. Prior to SNL, Wells was a member of the Upright Citizens Brigade, joining the show with fellow UCB improvisers Kyle Mooney, Beck Bennett, and John Milhiser. Mooney and Bennett lasted longer than Wells (or Milhiser), but her career managed to take off in a different direction when she was hired as the female lead for the Netflix comedy series, Master of None.
On Master of None, Wells portrays the love interest of Aziz Ansari, and has been garnering rave reviews for the role. Certain critics have described it as star-making, largely due to her personal charisma and the chemistry she and Ansari share on screen. Wells and a partner are also rumored to be developing a sitcom for Comedy Central, as well as having worked on an animated series based on the Dr. Seuss classic, “Green Eggs and Ham.”
4. Sarah Silverman
Sarah Silverman is bound to show up near the top of any list of the sexiest comedians, so it’s no surprise she should end up on this list, as well. The only unexpected thing about it would be how short her tenure as a cast member on SNL was, as Silverman only spent one season in Studio 8H, from 1993-1994. While Silverman isn’t the only future star to play a minor role on SNL, the extent to which she was underutilized on the show is jarring, as she claims only one sketch she wrote even survived to dress rehearsal, and none aired. Despite her apparent failure on SNL, Silverman went on to have an incredibly successful career as a stand-up comedian, as well as starring in a variety of films and TV series of her own.
Silverman quickly got over her lack of success at SNL, parodying the experience on The Larry Sanders Show. She also became a writer on a different sketch show, Mr. Show with Bob and David, and later starred in The Sarah Silverman Program on Comedy Central for three seasons. Silverman moved on to a film career to star in titles like Take This Waltz and I Smile Back, as well as beginning to make noise as a political activist for a variety of liberal causes.
3. Tina Fey
Tina Fey is one of the names most vitally linked with Saturday Night Live, but she actually only spent six seasons as a regular cast member on the show. Fey was also a writer during her time on the show, actually getting hired solely to write in 1997. She was promoted to head writer in 1999, becoming the first female to hold that position, prior to also becoming a regular cast member in 2000. Fey didn’t appear in very many sketches, preferring to stay behind the camera, but she did show up onscreen at least once per episode to co-host “Weekend Update” with Jimmy Fallon. After leaving SNL in 2006, Fey returned to host enough times to become a member of the legendary Five Timers Club.
The reason Tina Fey will forever be linked to SNL has less to do with her groundbreaking time as the first female head writer or even her long tenure as the host of “Weekend Update,” but rather the fact that she was also the creator and star of 30 Rock. Once 30 Rock ended its seven-season run, Fey continued to control the comedy world by co-creating the Netflix series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Fey has also starred in plenty of films of her own, and most importantly as far as this list is concerned, she continues to look great while she does so.
2. Amy Poehler
Amy Poehler joined SNL in 2001 already a veteran of sketch comedy, poised to go down in improv history. Poehler was one of the founders of the Upright Citizens Brigade, and as a result, starred in the Comedy Central sketch show based around that troupe’s initial members. Comedy Central canceled the show after three seasons, though UCB continues as a theater and comedy school to this day, and Poehler almost immediately looked past the cancellation to become one of the longest tenured female performers in SNL history. Amy joined the show in 2001, lasting eight seasons until 2008. She joined Tina Fey as the co-host of “Weekend Update” in 2004, the first time it was hosted by two females, and has reprised that role and others multiple times through her two stints returning as a host.
Amy Poehler continued to set the standard for women in the comedy world after leaving SNL by starring for seven seasons on Parks & Recreation as spirited local politician Leslie Knope. Poehler has also made dozens of film appearances, starring in titles including Baby Mama and Inside Out. In 2014, Poehler won the Golden Globe for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her work as Leslie Knope.
1. Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Arguably the most successful actress to spend time on SNL is also the hottest. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is best known for her starring stints on The New Adventures of Old Christine and Veep, not to mention for portraying Elaine Benes on Seinfeld. Her entertainment career began at Saturday Night Live in 1982, at which point she was the youngest female cast member in the history of the show. Louis-Dreyfus spent 3 seasons at SNL before moving on to bigger and better things, and though she rarely stood out on the show, her early achievements set the tone for her future professional career.
Anyone who owns a television knows what Julia was up to after leaving the show. In addition to starring on her own sitcoms, she has returned to SNL as a host three times, and has won seven Emmy awards for her acting. At the start of her career, Louis-Dreyfus was a gorgeous knockout, ready to take on the world. Yet, even in her 50s, she still manages to turn heads today. Unfortunately for all the interested guys out there, Julia has been married to fellow SNL alum, Brad Hall, since 1987.
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