Top 10 Stars You Forgot Were on SNL

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Top 10 Stars You Forgot Were on SNL

VOICE OVER: Samantha Clinch WRITTEN BY: Taryn Crankshaw
How did we forget these stars were on "SNL?" For this list, we'll be looking at celebrities who you might not have remembered made their big show biz debut on the legendary sketch series. Our countdown includes Ben Stiller, Jenny Slate, Martin Short, and more!
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Top 10 Stars You Forgot Were on SNL


Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Stars You Forgot Were On SNL.

For this list, we’ll be looking at celebrities who you might not have remembered made their big show biz debut on the legendary sketch series.

After the video, let us know who your favorite “SNL” cast member of all time is.

#10: Julia Louis-Dreyfus


Before she was Elaine Benes on “Seinfeld,” Julia Louis-Dreyfus cut her comedic teeth on “Saturday Night Live.” Joining the show when she was just 21 years old made her the youngest woman ever cast on the series at the time. Decades after her run ended, the “Veep” star publicly stated that behind the scenes the studio was overwrought with toxicity, including sexism and drug abuse. She credited the experience with giving her the push to be more selective and cautious with future projects. Although her “SNL” journey was short and not always sweet, we think she did alright for herself in the long run.

#9: Joan Cusack


1985 was an interesting time at “SNL.” During its 11th season, low ratings plagued the legendary sketch show and caused a massive layoff of most of its cast. One of those cast members in question was Joan Cusack. The actress appeared for the doomed season along with Randy Quaid, Dennis Miller, and Anthony Michael Hall. Coming back after a break from the program, creator Lorne Michaels shook things up on the show and Joan did not return for the 12th season. However, only a few years later, she earned her first Oscar nom for “Working Girl,” proving that the layoff was a blessing in disguise.

#8: Martin Short


Known for his impressive impressions and uproarious characters, Martin Short is a master of comedy. Earning his stripes on programs like “SCTV,” Short made the jump to Studio 8H in 1984. He created famous characters like Ed Grimley and is credited with helping revive the show. However, the intense schedule wore the “Only Murders in the Building” star out and he bid adieu to the show after only one season. Returning for hosting duties and cameos years later, it’s clear that although he didn’t remain with the show for long, his presence was impactful.

#7: Jenny Slate


With an unmistakable voice and impeccable timing, it’s no surprise that Jenny Slate earned a coveted spot on “SNL” in 2009. However, her time on the show got off to a rocky start. During her first-ever sketch, Slate accidentally dropped an f-bomb during the live show. The little slip-up sparked rumors as the reason why she was later fired. However, Slate cleared the air by saying that she simply “didn’t belong there.” Based on her post- “SNL” incredible achievements it looks like Jenny landed right where she was supposed to.

#6: Laurie Metcalf



Long before “Roseanne,” Broadway, and “Lady Bird,” Laurie Metcalf was a theatre school grad charting the choppy waters of show business. Landing a spot as a featured player on “SNL” seemed like it might be a big break for the budding actress. However, she only received credit for appearing in a single episode, making her stint the shortest in the history of the show behind Emily Prager. Blink and you might miss her, she appeared in a sketch alongside Catherine O’Hara and soon after carried on building what has become an illustrious career.

#5: Chris Rock


One of the biggest names in comedy, Chris Rock started his career off on “Live” at 25. Mentored by former “SNL” alumni Eddie Murphy, Rock was a skilled stand-up comic. Although he was on for three seasons, he never really hit his stride in the sketch comedy department and even stated post-“SNL” that playing characters wasn’t his thing. Unfortunately, his time on the show didn’t highlight his strengths but did make him a household name. Returning for host duties a few times, Chris has gone on to become one of the show's most famous graduates.

#4: Damon Wayans


After joining “Saturday” as a featured player, it soon became clear that Damon Wayans was underutilized. Feeling frustrated over his lack of involvement, Wayans took matters into his own hands and played a sketch entirely different than what was done in rehearsal. Creator Lorne Michaels soon let go of the comedian. In a turn of good fortune, Damon found his own success when he co-conceived another legendary sketch series, “In Living Color.” He also returned to host “SNL” in 1995, making it clear that he and Lorne eventually made up and everything turned out for the best.

#3: Sarah Silverman


Splitting duties as a writer and a cast member, Sarah Silverman joined “Saturday” in 1993. At the age of 22, her budding stand-up career earned her a seat at Studio 8H but unfortunately, her sketches never made it to air. She did, however, appear in a notable “Weekend Update” segment showing off her acting chops. Only a short 18 weeks later did the “Wreck-It Ralph” star get the boot. Although she admitted that it was a blow to her confidence, she persisted and built herself a career that a younger Silverman would be proud of.

#2: Ben Stiller


From “Zoolander” to “There’s Something About Mary,” Ben Stiller has become one of Hollywood’s go-to comedians. The son of the late Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, comedy is part of his DNA and joining “SNL” in the late 80s seemed like a natural fit. Lasting only one season, Stiller left the program halfway through the season in order to forge his own path. You may not remember his time on the series, but he definitely left quite an impression in 2019 when he returned to parody Donald Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Casey Wilson
The Comedic Actress Was Making Laughs Long Before Joining “SNL” & Afterwards Too

Billy Crystal
Before He Was Playing Oscar Host, He Was Playing Characters on “SNL” for One Season

David Koechner
Long Before Playing “The Office”’s Todd Packer, He Was a Cast Member

Michaela Watkins
A Cast Member in 2008, But Was Cut Loose After One Season

Nasim Pedrad
Cast Member from 2009-14 & Became Known for Her Kim Kardashian Impression

#1: Robert Downey Jr.


Sure, Tony Stark is quick-witted and clever, but sketch comedy isn’t the first thing you would associate with Oscar nominee Robert Downey Jr. With a flair for the dramatic, it’s surprising to remember that at 20, Downey was a cast member on “SNL.” For a hot second, the “Chaplin” star appeared between 1985-86. Starring in a handful of sketches, the future leading man was eventually let go from the ensemble after failing to make a lasting impression. Since then he’s gone on to join one of the biggest movie franchises ever, making his short “SNL” stint just a blip on his radar.
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