It’s said that whenever someone auditions for Saturday Night Live, they must prepare a series of comic impressions. There’s a reason for that – it’s an easy thing to fall back on for laughs. Some performers are incredibly gifted at impressions. Bill Hader. Dana Carvey. Phil Hartman. They’re all great, but perhaps no one on SNL disappeared so completely into an impression as Darrell Hammond. Within this chameleon’s repertoire are Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Clinton, Regis Philbin, Richard Dreyfuss, Donald Trump, James Gandolfini, and a brilliant Sean Connery among many, many others. Here’s a brief look at his greatness (plus a really amazing French Stewart by Jimmy Fallon).
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The French Chef
Much like Chevy Chase’s Gerald Ford impression, Dan Ackroyd’s Julia Child doesn’t really exist in the same impression universe as Meryl Streep’s Julia Child. That’s not the point though. Ackroyd’s brilliance in the role comes in the (then) unexpected blood spurting from the self-inflicted knife wound. It’s a trick widely used before and many times since, but the effect here is a shattering of the proper Julia Child imagery with gallons and gallons of fake blood.
Baba Wawa At Home
Way back in Season 2, the great Gilda Radner built a name for herself with wacky characters, driving her to become SNL‘s first breakout female performer. One of her greatest achievements is her impression of famed news reporter Barbara Walters, a frequent target of SNL‘s satiric eye (later, memorably portrayed by Cheri Oteri). Here is “Baba Wawa.”
Bein’ Quirky With Zooey Deschanel
The modern era of SNL continues to rely heavily on impressions, some more successful than others. There are hundreds of high profile examples, but one of our favorites is a lesser known skit performed only a handful of times: “Bein’ Quirky with Zooey Deschanel.” Here, Noelle Wells takes on Deschanel with Deschanel herself guest starring as Mary Kate Olsen joined by the brilliant Taran Killam as Michael Cera and Kristen Wiig as Bjork. It’s a mouthful to describe but pure joy to behold.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
SNL is, of course, an ensemble show, and their ensemble take on Charlie Brown is one of the more amazing recent skits. Led by Bill Hader’s classic Al Pacino as Charlie Brown performance, the piece imagines heavyweight dramatic actors in a must-see holiday show, “You’re a Rat Bastard, Charlie Brown.” You must see it right now.