Slaphappy superstars among SNL graduates
“Saturday Night Live (SNL),” which just celebrated its 40th anniversary with a three-hour comedy special, has been justifiably lauded for doing more for TV-film comedy than any other production, what with its stellar crop of multi-generational “graduates.” The long-running show’s products are an embarrassment of riches, including slap-happy superstars who have even launched popular film franchises of their own.
Our favorite is Billy Crystal, who was a writer and a cast member in the 1980s. On SNL, he “slayed” viewers with his spot-on comedic impersonations of Prince and Fernando Lamas.
On the big screen, Crystal’s successes include “When Harry Met Sally” and “The Princess Bride.” The over-achieving star has also had a hit on Broadway by way of his one-man show, and is regarded as one of the best hosts ever of the Academy Awards.
Man next door
Talk about film franchise originators, Adam Sandler has become a veritable one-man cottage industry as far as his characteristically “man-next-door” movie comedies are concerned. On SNL, he began his involvement as a writer, before realizing that he could be a good on-cam comic, as well.
On point of stature and significant achievement, Eddie Murphy can’t be beat. Not only is he one of the most popular black TV-film stars around; he’s also made the transition from comedy to drama, and was even nominated for an Oscar for his performance in “Dreamgirls.”
Downey was here
Unknown to many, Robert Downey Jr. was also an SNL discovery before he moved on to other pursuits and challenges. After his SNL stint in 1985-86, he starred in more than two dozen movies and TV shows.
Even when he does drama, his comedic bent is “ironically” evident—not an easy combination to pull off!
Another luminary who moved on from TV to film stardom is Bill Murray, with hit productions like “Ghostbusters” and “Tootsie” to his name. Of late, Murray’s performances have taken a dark and even mordant tone, making him one of the most versatile “maturing” players around.
Representing the younger generation of SNL finds is Jimmy Fallon, who first delighted viewers with his rogues’ gallery of spot-on impersonations, which even included singing exactly like some famous crooners.
Fallon’s latest triumph is his current stellar stint as host of the iconic “Tonight” show, which he successfully made his very own.
Fallon’s female counterpart is Tina Fey, with whom he co-anchored the “Weekend Update” segment on SNL. Her 2004 film, “Mean Girls,” made her a star on the big screen as well, and other successes followed, including TV hit series like “30 Rock.”
Of late, Fey has also clicked with viewers as an awards show host, serving notice that, when it comes to revealing even more facets to her stellar persona, she’s only just begun!
More stellar finds
Other SNL stellar finds include Fey’s “sidekick” Amy Poehler, Chevy Chase, the late John Belushi, Will Ferrell, Dan Aykroyd, Kristen Wiig, Chris Rock, Mike Myers, David Spade and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Thanks to producer Lorne Michaels’ unerring eye and ear for stellar comedic talent, they have collectively given us a whole lot to laugh about—and be grateful for!
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