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Everyone has a preferred era of Saturday Night Live, which typically stems from whatever generation the viewer grew up in. For instance, if an SNL fan reached adolescence in the ‘90s, they probably have cherished memories of Adam Sandler, David Spade, or Mike Myers, to name a few, inventing some of the long-running sketch comedy series’ most iconic characters and moments.
Indeed, even after it had aired long enough to dangerously brush against saturation, the ‘90s proved to be kind to Saturday Night Live, and remains one of its more fondly remembered decades for sketches you immediately know by name. From “Schweddy Balls” to Saturday TV Funhouse’s “The Ambiguously Gay Duo,” it was truly a great time to be an SNL fan.
Unfortunately, some of our favorite ‘90s era cast members are no longer with us, such as Chris Farley, Jan Hooks, and Phil Hartman, but those who have survived are still leading career to make their fans, peers, and Lorne Michaels proud. This is what the following eleven ‘90s SNL veterans have been up to since their last Saturday night in Studio 8H.
Adam Sandler’s winning streak as a writer, actor, and producer since leaving SNL in 1995 is undeniable, despite some bumps (i.e. Pixels, for one). Sandman went from singing about holidays on “Weekend Update” to rapping about his pockets' contents on his Netflix special 100% Fresh, while creating iconic cinematic characters (Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, etc.) in between. Recently, Sandler received Oscar buzz (to no avail, unfortunately) for 2019 thriller Uncut Gems and has a couple of spooky features coming, including creepy Netflix comedy Hubie Halloween and a fourth installment of the animated Hotel Transylvania franchise, for which he is expected to reprise Count Dracula.
Following her sketch comedy debut on In Living Color, Molly Shannon became an SNL “superstar” from 1995 to 2001, especially as quirky Catholic school student Mary Katherine Gallagher, who earned her own 1999 movie. The comedian has since stolen scenes on many films and TV series (some that star fellow SNL vets), including Wet Hot American Summer and the Hotel Transylvania franchise, but has also taken a few dramatic turns, such as playing a terminally ill teenager’s mother in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and a co-worker of a mentally disturbed Alison Brie in 2019’s Horse Girl. Shannon will next be seen with SNL alum Vanessa Bayer for her upcoming TV pilot Big Deal.
In addition to playing a Total Bastard Airlines steward or Dick Clark’s insufferable receptionist, David Spade’s 1990-1996 SNL stint is probably remembered best for infamous ribbing (to put it lightly) at former cast member Eddie Murphy. Otherwise, co-starring with Chris Farley in Tommy Boy, voicing Kuzco in The Emperor’s New Groove, and even playing the title character of Joe Dirt are just some roles that have kept him a relevant voice in comedy. In addition to leading top-rated Netflix rom-com The Wrong Missy in 2020, taking shots at pop culture is still Spade’s bread and butter, which he still does as host of Comedy Central’s nightly discussion program Lights Out.
Ana Gasteyer's Martha Stewart impersonation may be the best in the show's history, which is why she has reprised it on SNL outside her 1996-2002 run and, among other sketches, is key to her welcomed presence in the various, eclectic roles she has landed in TV and movies since, from playing a judge on The Good Wife to an alien abductee on TBS' People of Earth. The year 2019 saw Gasteyer disguised as a tree on The Masked Singer, reunite with many other SNL alumni in Netflix's Wine Country, and release a Christmas music album called Sugar & Booze. Her forthcoming projects include satirical rom-com Happiest Season and animated series Magical Girlfriend Friendship Squad.
Despite lasting just three years, Chris Rock's satirical brilliance on SNL defined him as one of the most (literally) recognizable voices in comedy today, as further evident by his hit semi-autobiographical sitcom Everybody Hates Chris, voicing Marty the Zebra in the Madagascar series, his three feature-length directorial efforts thus far, and much more. However, it seems the stand-up icon is turning over a new leaf lately, playing a 1950s mafia leader in Fargo's fourth season, producing and starring in upcoming Saw reboot Spiral, and appearing in announced sports biopic I Am Maurice. Yet, one who is far from abandoning comedy is Rock, who will be seen in Robert Zemeckis' The Witches remake and was tapped to direct the pilot of Kenan Thompson's upcoming sitcom The Kenan Show.
If you didn't realize Julia Sweeney played Pat on SNL, the 1990-1994 cast member would probably be happy to know that as the ambiguity of her most famous character's gender was the joke. You might more easily recognize the actress and author as a teacher from Stuart Little's orphanage, her 2019 appearance on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, or from Sweeney's award-winning 1998 documentary God Said, "Ha!", chronicling her and her brother's struggles with cancer, which her Pulp Fiction director Quentin Tarantino helped produce. Currently, Sweeney can be seen on fellow SNL lady Aidy Bryant's Hulu comedy Shrill and comedian Abby McEnany's Showtime series Work in Progress, which Sweeney also produces.
Another great post-SNL success story is that of Mike Myers, who popularized "schwing" with "Wayne's World" and its two cinematic spin-offs years before popularizing "swing" with his Austin Powers trilogy, but the success of either is nothing compared to the four Shrek movies in which he voiced the titular ogre. The Vancouver native's film and TV appearances grew increasingly mysterious, from his unrecognizable cameo in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds to hosting the 2017 Gong Show revival under heavy makeup as Tommy Maitland. However, he looks to be returning to more familiar territory by playing multiple characters in a recently announced Netflix series and there has been talk about bringing back Dr. Evil for a spin-off movie.
We cannot mention "Wayne's World" without Garth, played by Dana Carvey, who has made a recent return SNL for no other reason than to bask in his flawless skills of impersonation and bring back his most famous characters, especially The Church Lady. Carvey's 1986-1993 run might be the peak of his career, however, considering his following efforts include variety program The Dana Carvey Show, whose abrupt failure was the subject of a 2017 documentary, or the 2002 Razzie-nominee The Master of Disguise. Still, nowadays, every brief moment the comedian is back into the mainstream, such as for his 2016 Netflix stand-up special or voicing a dog in The Secret Life of Pets movies, it is always met with celebration.
If you don't remember Cheri Oteri by name, you might as one-half of an enthusiastic cheerleading duo with Will Ferrell or for her spot-on Barbara Walters impression during her 1995-2000 SNL. Additionally, you might recognize her as Gail Hailstorm in Scary Movie, the voice of Sleeping Beauty in Shrek the Third, or from her 2016 Scream Queens appearance. Among her forthcoming roles from in front of the camera or within the recording studio, Oteri is part of a voice cast including Katherine McNamara and Steve Gutenberg for The Adventures of Bunny Bravo and will share the screen with Jeremy Piven and Taryn Manning in the indie comedy Crabs in a Bucket.
An incomparably dry, shamelessly blunt delivery made Norm MacDonald one of the most brilliantly savage "Weekend Update" anchors in SNL's history. The celebrated comedian got his own self-titled sitcom a year after his firing from the sketch comedy, but it would be the first of several short-lived attempts at his own series, including 2011's non-scripted Sports Show on Comedy Central, which would later pave the way for his popular interview podcast Norm MacDonald Live which was picked up after four years as Netflix series Norm MacDonald Has a Show in 2018, but only lasted one season. His most recent successes have been in voice work, such as a recurring role as a gelatinous alien on The Orville and a starring role as a talking pigeon on Adult Swim's Mike Tyson Mysteries.
Norm MacDonald has the struggle to lead a successful TV show in common with fellow '90s-era SNL veteran Rob Schneider, who showed much promise with his impressive variety of characters, most famously the nickname-spewing office employee Richard Laymer. The father of rock star Elle King also proved to be an effective comic relief in 1993's futuristic Sylvester Stallone thriller Demolition Man, but as a leading man, his most notable roles include a desperate male prostitute, a half-man, half-animal, a thief who switches bodies with Rachel McAdams, and himself in two self-titled, short-lived sitcoms. However, it is always a treat to see him show-up for his obligatory cameo in just about all of his buddy Adam Sandler's movies.
What do you think? Do these 12 funny people prove that the ‘90s had the best cast on Saturday Night Live, or are you still faithful to the Not-Ready-for-Primetime Players? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back for more updates on your favorite SNL veterans, or alumni of other movies and TV shows and their current whereabouts, here on CinemaBlend.
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.