Melanie Hutsell’s Jan Brady Character Got Her Cast on ‘Saturday Night Live’

Melanie Hutsell’s Jan Brady Character Got Her Cast on ‘Saturday Night Live’

Jan Brady played a huge role in the comedic life of 1990s Saturday Night Live cast member Melanie Hutsell right from the start. The character with the middle-child complex was Hutsell’s first comedy gig, performing in The Real Live Brady Bunch Show with the Annoyance Theater in Chicago. (That’s unknowns Jane Lynch and Andy Richter as Melanie’s TV parents, Mike and Carol Brady.)

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With a Brady super-fan as one of the show’s producers, Jan was Hutsell’s vehicle to getting cast on SNL. “Marci Klein was absolutely obsessed with the Brady Bunch so I had that going in my favor,” Hutsell recently told Dana Carvey and David Spade on the Fly on the Wall podcast. But doing a world-class Jan Brady impression is a double-edged sword. When Susan Dey, star of fellow Brady Bunch-era sitcom The Partridge Family, was invited to host the show, Klein put a lot of pressure on the newly cast Hutsell to deliver the goods. “I remember Marci Klein showed up in the hall way, like at some weird moment she just appeared,” Hutsell remembered. “And she was like, ‘Melanie, as you know Susan Dey is our host this week. We're expecting a lot, and you need to get it done.”

“Jesus,” replied Spade. 

Hutsell, like lots of comics of her era, grew up with Brady Bunch and Partridge Family reruns after school. In her fantasies, she explained, the two families lived on the same block. And that’s exactly how it played out in Hutsell’s sketch: “At first, it was going to be some kind of dream sequence. And then it just went from there and became the battle of the bands.”


It’s always a home run when you can use the entire cast, Spade noted, and by populating two TV families with Carvey, Mike Myers, Adam Sandler and the gang, she did just that. Special shout-out to Chris Farley as Ruben Kincaid, who answers the Bradys’ “you have no daddy” taunts with a wicked kiss for Shirley Partridge (Julia Sweeney). As creator of the sketch, Hutsell not only wrote but acted as director and choreographer as well, building confidence for the young cast member. 

The experience was far from her theater Jan days, however. “Coming from the Annoyance Theater to Saturday Night Live, the biggest difference I learned that week is guess what? Not a lot of rehearsal!” she told Carvey and Spade. “From the background that I had come from, for a performance like that, we would rehearse for weeks and weeks and weeks.” She compared the SNL experience to “live theater on drugs.”

Jan Brady became a Hutsell go-to character on SNL, a plug-and-play laugh machine who could appear in a sketch or deliver social commentary on Weekend Update.

But where did Jan end and Melanie begin? “I had the Jan Brady wig, but the little ringlet curls in the front, that was my actual hair. So me doing those curls myself was always a huge sort of crossover from Melanie Hutsell to Jan Brady,” she explained. “It’s like the weirdest thing ever.”

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