Kristen Wiig Refuses to Play Her ‘SNL’ Hits — And That’s A Good Thing

Wiig left nearly all of her old characters in the past where they belong
Kristen Wiig Refuses to Play Her ‘SNL’ Hits — And That’s A Good Thing

I saw a Saturday Night Fan site on Instagram yesterday pondering which of Kristen Wiig’s many recurring characters she’d bring back when she hosted the show last night. Could we see Doonese? Gilly? The Target Lady? How about Penelope, Judy Grimes or Mindy Elise Grayson? I’d like to personally thank Wiig for choosing (almost) none of the above as she hosted SNL for a milestone fifth go-round. 

There are many good reasons to put the increasingly tired Five-Timers Club thing to bed for good. Last night reminded me of another one — even when SNL has a host like Wiig who’s more than capable of delivering a killer monologue, Five-Timers sketches often rope in a bunch of lazy cameos that deliver more recognition applause than actual laughs. Why take time away from Wiig to wave hello to Paul Rudd, Paula Pell, Jon Hamm, Fred Armisen, Will Forte, Martin Short, Matt Damon and Ryan Gosling? We get it, Lorne, you have an impressive Contacts folder. But can you save it for the 50th-anniversary show?

The good news: Wiig brought it last night by refusing to recycle more played-out bits like Five-Timers Club. If she were still a cast member, the characters she introduced could make up a whole new menagerie of recurring weirdos, including Nina, a woman who won’t play board games for fear of being Jumanji’d…

An ominous mom who has to break some bad news to the kids right after they finish riding the Go-Karts…

And Tipi Tornade, the French whirling dervish who dominates the swingin’ 1970s scene at La Maison du Bang. Mon dieu!

Last night’s show was a good reminder of Wiig’s Carol Burnett-inspired gift for physical comedy. In addition to Tipi Tornade’s gyrations, Wiig terrified in a horror parody about a Pilates instructor who calls everyone “Mama,” then seamlessly slid into a sketch featuring one of Heidi Gardner’s old characters. As the Tootie to Gardner’s Trudy, Wiig pulled off screwball comedy rapid-fire dialogue while damn near willing a desk to collapse beneath her. The original sketch didn’t inspire nearly as many laughs, but Gardner and Wiig tag-teamed this one to victory. 

One old favorite did swing by the Weekend Update desk, but if I’d held a straw poll to determine which of Wiig’s characters would return, I doubt movie critic Aunt Linda would have landed among the top five vote-getters. Turns out the old gal still has something left in the tank, pouring gasoline over two movies she hated last year: Barbie and Oppenheimer

Guest hosts are usually asked early in the week if they have anything special they want to do on the show and Wiig clearly said, “Something new please.” Once the show got its clumsy guest spots out of the way, “something new” was exactly what SNL allowed Wiig to do. The result was one of the strongest shows of Season 49. 


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