Molly Shannon Talks One SNL Character That Was Really Hard To Get On The Show

Molly Shannon as Mary Katherine Gallagher on SNL screenshot
(Image credit: NBC)

Saturday Night Live has been on the air for almost 50 years; that’s a whole lot of Saturdays filled with laughter and a whole lot of comedians making regular appearances on TV screens. There have been plenty of funny faces on SNL over the years, but some names really stick out and have iconic skits that still resonate with fans. Molly Shannon is one such standout performer who rocked the show for 16 years years with her hilariously cringe-worthy characters. Now Shannon looks back on her time with SNL and talks about one of her characters that was a really hard sell, and she had to fight for in order for the character to appear on the show. 

I’m definitely not talking about Molly Shannon’s iconic Mary Katherine Gallagher, because the awkward Catholic school girl is arguably one of the most impactful characters from SNL in the ‘90s. No, apparently one of Shannon’s less recognizable characters was the one she pitched twice to producers. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the comedic actress reveals that Jeannie Darcy, the incredibly unfunny stand-up comedian, was a character she pushed for even though she knew it wouldn’t get very many laughs. Here it is in her own words:

That was the hardest sell. I put it in the read-through. It did not get on. And you never ever put something through again. It’s embarrassing and you’re just not supposed to do it. But I think I asked Mike Shoemaker, and he was like, ‘Oh, well, all right.’ It got on, but that was really hard because people were just like, ‘What is this?’ That was my reaction to having to always get laughs.

In the same interview, Molly Shannon explains that the reason she really wanted Jeannie Darcy to make her SNL debut was actually for her fellow cast members. While she certainly gave fans plenty of laughs during her time on SNL, Jeannie Darcy was, interestingly enough, comedic material meant just for Will Ferrell and Jimmy Fallon. This is how Shannon explains it, exactly:

It was the end of when I was at SNL, and I wanted to do something really dull that got no laughs and just really play the realness of it. She’s just a girl who’s not talented who shouldn’t be in comedy, maybe on the spectrum, but she is driven and really sticking to it. I wanted to get no laughs except from Jimmy Fallon and Will Ferrell. It was just really for them.

Molly Shannon was active on SNL at the same time as Will Ferrell, and the two had a pretty close relationship as friends. Ferrell played in a lot of her Mary Katherine Gallagher skits as a priest, in fact, and the two have amazing on-screen chemistry and very similar comedy styles, so it’s no wonder that Shannon would fight so hard for an inside joke on SNL with Ferrell and Jimmy Fallon (who was also a part of the SNL cast at that time and basically laughed at everything anyway).

Even though Jeannie Darcy was a short lived character, some SNL fans still recognize one of her catch phrases: "Don't get me started." That's a feeling I can relate to, although in a different way – don’t even get me started about some of Molly Shannon’s other SNL characters and the feminine power that she brought to the world of comedy!

Molly Shannon’s time on SNL has long been over, but her comedy career is far from it. She’s remained pretty busy over the years, and has a number of projects coming up. You may recognize her voice on Bob’s Burgers as the ever-cringey Millie and you can look out for her in Spin Me Round and A Good Person, both of which are future films that she has roles in. Most recently, though, you can see her in HBO’s The White Lotus alongside some other faces with iconic comedy careers.

Carlie Hoke
Content Writer

Constantly thinking about books, coffee, and the existential dread I feel from Bo Burnham’s Inside.  While writing I’m also raising a chaotic toddler, who may or may not have picked up personality traits from watching one too many episodes of Trailer Park Boys.