SNL has been a launching pad for a lot of stars in comedy (whether you knew it or not), but what about the non-stars, the joe lunch pail comedic performers, who still went on to have perfectly good and respectable careers? Well brother, it’s time they got their due! Here are the former SNL cast members who are still working, even though they didn’t blow up:
I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the expression “It’s show BUSINESS, not show FRIENDS”, but it’s used as an excuse for when people behave very terribly in the entertainment industry in the interests of making money. You can tell it’s a load of crap, because Rob Schneider continues to be given opportunities despite the fact that everything he has ever been involved with has been an astounding failure, and the reason he keeps getting those chances are because he is friends with Adam Sandler.
Julia Sweeney found post-SNL success as both a big voice over artists, as well as by doing lots of *dramatic music* LIVE THEATER! Her one-woman show about battling cancer, God Said Ha!, was such a success that Miramax released a filmed version and This American Life played portions of it on one of its episodes. Sweeny’s had two more one-woman shows since, one of which (Letting Go of God) became a minor hit with a lot of American atheists.
Putting Robert Smigel on this list feels strange, because in comedy writing circles he is incredibly well known, having written some of the most well-known and beloved sketches from SNL’s early ’90s rebirth, even though his actual appearances on the show as a featured player were pretty limited. Smigel created the TV Funhouse segments, which were a sort of precursor to SNL’s current era of digital shorts. Oh, right, and he’s also the voice/puppeteer of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, maybe the most famous non-racist puppet for adults in America.
Nora Dunn notoriously has… less than fond memories of her time on SNL. If you go back and look at her body of work on the show, however, she was an incredibly talented utility player who also had a few popular characters of her own. But she kept working after leaving the show the way most talented performers who never break big do; guest spots on TV shows, ad campaigns, maybe a lead performance on a sequel that gets cancelled too soon. She ended up with one long ass IMDb page.
Gone too soon! Jan Hooks actually left SNL to join Designing Women, a show that already had a solid fan base. She actually came back to SNL for a half dozen episodes a few years later, playing Hillary Clinton (boy; a lot of people have played Hillary Clinton). Other than that, it seemed like Hooks was pretty selective in what she did: an episode of fellow SNL-alum Martin Short’s show Jiminy Glick, The Simpsons, and 3rd Rock From The Sun — all high quality stuff.
SNL is a weird blip on Colin Quinn’s resume, since he’s an incredibly highly regarded New York stand-up comic who had a one man show directed by Jerry Seinfeld (they’re friends). Quinn had a beloved-by-fans panel show for comedians on Comedy Central called Tough Crowd, and still regularly tours. In addition, he picks up small acting jobs here and there that are almost always given to him by another NY comic.
Molly Shannon rules and has had small roles in tons of stuff, frequently being the best part of whatever she is involved with. Her one lead role in a sitcom was the American remake of Kath and Kim, which was… not the best idea. In the end, Molly Shannon’s lack of enormous, mainstream stardom is a failure on the part of the entire American entertainment industry.
I can’t believe people are still giving work to Rob Schneider. It’s nuts. Do you think he deserves work? Let me know on Twitter!