‘Saturday Night Live’ Impressionists, Ranked

Which funny person is best at being other funny people?
‘Saturday Night Live’ Impressionists, Ranked

While Saturday Night Live has rotated through hundreds of cast members, each group has certain comic archetypes represented. There are the Glue types, the Wild Things, the Arrested Adolescents and the Smart Asses. And in every iteration of the show, there’s the Impressionist. No wonder u/MixedMushroomSoup hopped on the r/LiveFromNewYork subreddit this week to ask, “Who’s been the most talented impressionist on the show? Of all time, starting from the beginning.” Here are the top answers, ranked by number of upvotes. (And a note: Despite the “starting from the beginning” caveat, there were few votes to be found for early SNL impressionists Dan Aykroyd, Joe Piscopo and even Phil Hartman. Those fellas likely deserve a spot somewhere on the list.)

Click right here to get the best of Cracked sent to your inbox.

Dana Carvey


Carvey’s nomination generated a surprising amount of debate. On the one hand, “he basically invented the Arnold impression,” said u/KhalidaOfTheSands, “and EVERYONE was doing it after.”

“No way,” disagreed u/dkinmn. “The secret of Carvey's impressions is that they aren't particularly great and everyone can do them. He's a great sketch impressionist, but not a great impressionist as its own skill.”

Chloe Fineman


“Chloe should be in the conversation,” offered u/TheShipEliza. Need proof? u/bioalley reminds us that “Chloe convinced Benedryl Cucumberpatch that the multiverse was real.”

James Austin Johnson


“JAJ is on his way there,” says u/ScubaDawg97. “His Trump voice is spot on.”

u/KnowYourSecret co-signs: “He’s seemingly the only one not winking to the camera that he’s doing an impersonation.”

Cecily Strong


Here’s a surprise, if only because most of the others on this list are mainly known for their mimic abilities. That’s not the case with Strong, but she definitely has her fans. “She gets the voice, the linguistics and the mannerisms 100% right,” raves u/elanaesther. “Like here — she sounds EXACTLY like a Colombian lady who lived on my street when I was younger. Or her now-famous Serial sketch where she channels Sarah Koenig. Or this one which was criminally cut for time where natives in the comments praise her accent. (And she’s doing a British person trying to play an American… I mean, come on.)”

Jay Pharoah


“I thought Pharaoh was a spectacular impressionist,” says u/_Pill-Cosby_. “Maybe even my pick for the best.”

But some users had their reservations. “Jay Pharoah was the best of you wanted someone exactly like the celebrity,” explains u/BigMax. “But he missed that it’s supposed to also be funny, not a pure impression but a caricature of the person. So Pharaoh was “better” but not for SNL.”

Darrell Hammond


There’s a big leap in upvotes by the time we get to all-time impressionist Hammond. In fact, one might make the argument that Hammond actually tops this list, as he turns up in 19 separate comments. “Darrell Hammond rarely missed,” opined u/DooOboes. 

And despite the show leaning on Alec Baldwin in the 2010s, “don’t sleep on Darrell Hammond’s Trump from the late 90’s & early to mid 2000s,” cautions u/infinestyle.

Bill Hader


The king of the impressions that no one else does, from Alan Alda to Vincent Price. “I think Bill Hader was the best,” says u/BigMax, “accurate enough while still being hilarious.”

“Agree completely,” says u/under-secretary4war. “If you consider an impression to be near perfect mimicry, he was amazing.”

“Bill Hader,” confirmed u/SLXPZ3RO, “without a doubt.”

Scroll down for the next article
Forgot Password?