Kristen Wiig Brings The Funny With Her Best SNL Characters and Impersonations [VIDEOS]
For Kristen Wiig’s 40th birthday (Aug 22) we look back at her top four characters and top four impersonations from her seven year run on Saturday Night Live.
Wiig departed from SNL in 2012 after the end of the 37th season and returned to host the program on May 11, 2013. Wiig had a variety of characters and impersonations we will miss until she returns to host again (we hope!) and brings a few good ones back with her.
Check out Kristen Wiig's best SNL Characters and Impersonations:
Top 4 Characters
One of Wiig's earliest recurring characters feels like something that came right from her time improvising with The Groundlings. Playing a wacky Target employee who's way too enthusiastic about her job and would constantly leave her register to take advantage of a deal, Wiig's performance amounted to a funny voice and facial expression. There's a kernel of an idea in the character -- we've all been to stores where the employees seemed a bit overenthusiastic -- but most of that was obliterated by the cartoonish nature of the sketch.
Another of the characters that put Wiig at the top of the SNL cast is Penelope. She would show up at a party and top any story or anecdote with one of her own, often going to totally nonsensical places. The punchline was always the same -- Penelope was really telling the truth about her outlandish life all along -- and that took some steam out of what was actually a really observant skewering of a very specific kind of person that exists in real life.
So much of what could be considered wrong with Kristen Wiig's recurring characters -- and even the institution of Saturday Night Live -- is best summarized by "Gilly." Wiig plays an odd elementary school student who wears a giant wig and hurts other students in class; when called out on it, she only says "Sorry." It's a single joke over and over, and a particularly lazy one at that; the sketch seems to want to coast by on the visual of Wiig in a big afro wig doing a silly dance. Like a lot of SNL's repeat sketches, there's an appeal to going back to it over and over again because it has a recognizable character, a theme song and a built-in structure. Wiig herself promised to retire the character at one point (but went back on her word).
The female half of “Two A-Holes”
Although Wiig’s female A-Hole would not be as funny without her jerk of a significant other, played by Jason Sudeikis, the recurring couple was one we loved to hate. Whether it was Wiig’s blatant disregard for what was happening around her or the way Sudeikis defended his ditzy girlfriend and called her “Babe,” these two reminded all of us of that certain someone we can’t stand and for some reason it was hilarious.
Top 4 Impersonations
Wiig is not the first SNL cast member to tackle impersonating a political figure, and she certainly will not be the last, but her impression of Nancy Pelosi was one to remember. Wiig’s impression usually had Pelosi being cutting, snarky and rude to people, and sometimes secretly having a wild side. Wiig’s wild eyes and crazy looks at the camera were slightly frightening, but also hysterically funny.
After the very public divorce of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries, SNL cast members impersonated all three Kardashian sisters, NBA star Kris Humphries, and stepfather Bruce Jenner, and Wiig impersonated self-absorbed Kardashian mother Kris Jenner. Wiig nails every mannerism of Jenner’s, from her constant head bobbing to her need to seek attention and take advantage of her daughters’ fame.
Wiig’s impersonation of one of The View’s hosts, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, is another example of how Wiig is better at creating her own characters than impersonating real people, Wiig hits this nail on the head nevertheless. Using subtle things about Hasselbeck, Wiig creates a ditzier version of Hasselbeck that is too funny. Wiig drops her jaw at anything and everything throughout the sketch. She also repeats herself, which the real Hasselbeck does do on The View quite a lot.
Kathie Lee Gifford
A recurring sketch that took shape after NBC added a fourth hour of its flagship morning show The Today Show found Wiig playing TV icon Kathie Lee Gifford, opposite her co-host, Hoda Kotb (first played by Michaela Watkins, then Nasim Pedrad). Wiig's approach to Gifford was smart: rather than just doing a straight impersonation, she found the things that were funny about the talk show host -- namely, her laugh, her penchant for saying inappropriate things and her love of drinking wine on air. The result is something that, like Will Ferrell's George W. Bush or Darrell Hammond's Sean Connery, less resembled Gifford then became its own character entirely.
Author Bio: Blake Meredith is an entertainment blogger for Direct-Ticket.net and an avid SNL fan. Currently residing in Chicago, Blake enjoys catching the latest Second City productions and longboarding around the Windy City.