The Funniest Jenny Slate Moments for the Comedy Hall of Fame
Most artists will try to stay in their own lane. Thankfully, Jenny Slate isn’t like most artists. Live-action? Check. Animation? Check. Sketch comedy? Check. Drama— we’re actually going to stop because it would be easier to check off the smaller list of things that she can’t do. (Run a two-minute drill? Fix the housing crisis?)
Over the span of her 18-year career, Slate has grown as an artist on multiple levels. Whether it’s making us bust a gut by being the “wooooorst” twin sister in Pawnee, Indiana, or clutch at our heartstrings with just her voice giving life to a shell with shoes, Slate’s presence is always an addition, never a subtraction.
Some of the very best examples…
‘Saturday Night Live’
Though she only lasted one season on the show, SNL is what first put Slate on the map.
Unfortunately, her most attention-grabbing moment involved her making SNL history by becoming the fifth cast member to accidentally drop an F-bomb live on air.
But contrary to rumors (and her “I’m so fired” face after saying it), Slate has stated that it wasn’t the reason behind her dismissal at the end of the season.
Slate played Maria Bamford’s “life coach,” Karen Grisham, for four episodes on Netflix’s criminally short-lived show.
Her nonchalant delivery of the soul-crushing, “Yeah, because you’re bipolar and incredibly hard to stay friends with. I mean, people are really just gonna fall by the wayside,” continues to live in our head, rent-free.
Between voicing a white Pomeranian in The Secret Life of Pets and her role as Assistant Mayor Bellwether in Zootopia, Slate’s voice work entered what we’re calling a “floof period” in 2016.
This little sheep character takes a twisting turn in the third act, and the subtleties in Slate’s voice work that play up the character’s awkwardness for laughs the first time slowly clue us in on the hints of deviousness during repeat viewings.
One of many collaborations between Slate and pal Nick Kroll, the PubLIZity sketches were one of the Kroll Show’s most consistently hilarious segments.
For all 13 seasons of the show (including the movie), Slate has been the voice of Tammy Larson, the spoiled brat with an unfortunate farting problem.
‘The Great North’
Again teaming up with Bob’s Burgers writers for The Great North, Slate voices Judy, the Tubin family’s middle child, who frequently receives advice from her imaginary friend, Alanis Morissette.
Eat it, Mufasa.
Slate’s starring role as the lead in this rom-com was endearingly earnest and was critical in grounding the human element of the film’s abortion-driven plot.
‘The Lego Batman Movie’
It’s tough for your work voicing a villain to stand out in an animated movie that tried to shoehorn in every villain in the DC vault, but Slate’s turn as Harley Quinn was definitely one of the “Wait, whose voice was that?” portrayals that make you want to pause and check IMDb.
‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’
She has a brief but memorable role in the recent Best Picture winner, playing Debbie the Dog Mom. This fight scene must’ve been a bit cathartic for Slate after having to voice a Pomeranian for two Secret Life of Pets films.
After getting nice and plastered (because it’s not called Sober History, duh), Slate decided to give a complete medical update on the status of both her and her dog’s genitals. She then regaled us with the story of two scientists who detected a mysterious sound from deep space.
More of a one-woman monologue than stand-up, Slate’s Netflix special was all about her life and family, with each one giving greater insight into the other. In lesser hands, Stage Fright could have come off as self-indulgent; instead, it’s hysterical and vulnerable.
‘Marcel the Shell With Shoes On’
Beginning as a series of three stop-motion shorts on YouTube, which she co-created and wrote with then-husband Dean Fleischer-Camp, Slate voices Marcel, the titular anthropomorphic seashell with a little googly-eye and bright pink sneakers. The pair adapted the character for a full-length feature, which was nominated for Best Animated Film at the Oscars this year.
‘Parks and Recreation’
In possibly the greatest casting of non-siblings as siblings, Slate plays Parks and Recreation’s Mona-Lisa Saperstein, the klepto/nympho/pyro twin sister of Tom Haverford’s frequent side-hustle collaborator Jean-Ralphio.
Matching the obnoxious, chaotic energy that Ben Schwartz can squeeze out of Jean-Ralphio seems like an impossible task, but Slate did it so effortlessly that it’s hard to believe that the pair have not been hatching schemes together since emerging from the womb.