Saturday Night Live could be considered the most influential comedy series in history. Under Lorne Michaels, the show has launched the careers of the some of the greatest comedians of our time and each decade SNL has provides us with comedy movie stars. To create the ultimate cast, host and musical guest, I picked which cast members would work best together to allow for funniest comedy possible. We all know that Saturday Night Live needs at least one impressionist on the show, but who one do you choose after 41 years worth of impressionists. Below is the greatest cast list of actors that I believe compliment each other the best. But you can’t have the ultimate SNL show without the ultimate host and musical guest. So lets find out who it is. Now, Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!
You can’t have an ultimate cast list and not feature who arguably could be considered the greatest cast member of all time. Belushi embodied the Saturday Night Live in the 1970s, with both the highs and the lows. His range allowed him to play any type. From original character to celebrity impression, Belushi knocked it out of the park. His Joe Cocker impression remains one of the most memorable parodies in the show’s history. Whether he was playing a politician, athlete, or quirky guy, Belushi also had the uncanny ability to the make the make the crowd laugh by just saying a single word.
Will Ferrell was the cast member that the writers loved to write for and other cast members loved to act with. Like Belushi, Ferrell was fearless on-stage. He was never afraid to embarrass himself or put himself in awkward situations. Ferrell also embodied a weird kind of innocence and could be considered the ultimate man-child. Ferrell could play either end of the spectrum. He could be the ridiculous character with a shirt too-small in the “Cowbell” sketch, but he could also hold an entire sketch together as the straight man, as he did countless times in “Celebrity Jeopardy,” giving structure, hope, and hilarious comedy to those sketches. He brought that range during his entire run on the show.
Eddie Murphy could be considered the most popular and most successful cast member to ever be on SNL. During the weird 5-year stint without Lorne Michaels, the show received terrible reviews and was nearly canceled. It was the young Eddie Murphy who single-handedly saved the show. He was so popular that he hosted the show while he was still a cast member. Buckwheat, Little Richard Simmons, James Brown — Murphy’s characters started and ended with Murphy. No one could pick up the mantle after he left, making his place as the star of the show unique, on a show that has primarily been an ensemble.
If anyone would be the captain of this ultimate-SNL ship, it would be Phil Hartman. Not only did he have incredible range, he had a calm demeanor that would keep a star-studded cast in check. Adam Sandler called Hartman “The Glue,” because he held the SNL staff together. Lorne Michaels agreed. For eight seasons, Hartman showed a range of impressions, earning national recognition for his Bill Clinton impression. He even won an Emmy while on the show. His versatility alone means that he could vibe with and play off any other cast member in the show’s history.
There was perhaps no woman cast member who was as beloved as Gilda Radner was while on SNL. Though small, she could be a live wire and ultimately a certain prototype for later cast members like Kristin Wiig and Molly Shannon. She can play any age and character as well – from old to young, nerdy to sexy – Gilda could do it all.
Farley makes the list for the same reason that Will Farrell and John Belushi. He was more comfortable doing live sketch comedy than most people are in any situation. He was unafraid to throw his huge, but surprisingly nimble, body around on camera and his grotesque figure allowed him to play any goofy role. He had an endearing, lovable quality about him that made him sweet and engaging, as loud and bold as he was. Every SNL cast in history needs the lovable oaf and Chris Farley was the great oaf in the show’s history.
Bill Murray was the first “new guy” for SNL and that makes his appeal invaluable. He could jump in to an existing situation and immerse himself perfectly. Any audience can connect with Murray, an everyman while on the show. Someone you could see yourself grabbing a beer with which every SNL cast in history needed. Bill Murray is a superstar, but he did not have to be the center of every scene. He could take a backseat and defer to other cast members, then could step up within the same scene and carry the load. He could kill it in a leading or supporting role.
No one else on this list could do what Dan Aykroyd did. He is one of the most influential cast members in the history of SNL. His intelligence and ability to combine serious and wacky is a skill that has been copied by later cast members for decades. Aykroyd could also steal a scene by just standing on camera. The sketch where he plays Jimmy Carter talking down a kid on a bad acid-trip alone earns him a spot on the show’s ultimate cast list.
Tina Fey is probably the most influential woman, and one of the funniest period, to ever be on Saturday Night Live. Though she is a talent sketch performer, the real reason she makes this list is for her brilliant writing. She worked as head writer of SNL for years, the first female head writer that the show has ever had. This cast would need a Weekend Update host and Fey is that person. Her political one-liners and steady hand make her the choice. In addition, Fey’s role in tearing down Sarah Palin with her dead-on impression cement her place on this Dream Team.
You can never have enough really funny women as member of the SNL cast. Amy Poehler is not only smart, talent and versatile, she could also be considered one of the most successful improvisers in Saturday Night Live history. She could host Weekend Update with Tina Fey — a chemistry that can’t be topped. She squared off with Hillary Clinton in an impression so accurate that even Hillary had to laugh at it and was able to be a broad sketch performer doing a crazy celebrity impression, but also deliver a killer straight-laced joke at the “Update” desk.
Alec Baldwin would be the clear host of the ultimate SNL show, for good reason. He has hosted the show more than anyone in history — a record 16 times! He already has established characters and has proven that he can hang with the funniest, fastest minds in comedy. He is also the kind of host that doesn’t need a gimmick. For his monologue, he would not need the cast members to come on-stage and save him — he could carry that portion with his own comedy chops and charm. He knows the tone of the show, how to step up, and how to defer to other cast members. For those reasons, he would host on this night.
Dave Grohl has appeared as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live a record 11 times between his two bands, Nirvana and Foo Fighters. The dude is a major rock star and would put on an amazingly memorable performance for the Saturday Night Live Ultimate Show, no matter who he is playing with. Lorne Michaels trusts him, Letterman loves him, why shouldn’t we?