Though Saturday Night Live has experienced both countless iconic moments and growing pains throughout the years, one constant has been Weekend Update. The longest-running segment on the beloved sketch comedy series has introduced audiences to some of the most hilarious and endearing fake newscast anchors, serving up memorable and noteworthy performances. Notorious SNL alum Chevy Chase created the satirical news program with writer Herb Sargent, and in doing so set a distinguished precedent for future Update hosts that many have attempted to reach but a select few have achieved.
Whether they’re flying solo or teaming up with another fellow comedian, only the best of the best cast members get promoted to sit behind the famous newscast desk. Some of SNL‘s most adored characters have appeared in the acclaimed segment, and it’s up to the anchor to keep the momentum of the show going and audiences laughing. From the grounded Jane Curtin to goofball Jimmy Fallon, raunchy Norm Macdonald to devilish Tina Fey, Weekend Update has without-a-doubt had its fair share of colorful and captivating anchors. These are the best Weekend Update Saturday Night Live hosts.
9 Dennis Miller
Funnyman Dennis Miller was a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1985 to 1991 after having been discovered by Lorne Michaels at the Comedy Store. The performer later recalled that after his two separate auditions with Michaels: “He looked at me and goes, ‘Would you like to do my newscast?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I would.’ and he said, ‘See you tomorrow.’ And then I walked out and remember thinking ‘My life has just changed.’ ”
Miller succeeded Christopher Guest as the Weekend Update anchor, and was known for his sardonic delivery and despite not being particularly political, found that finding headlines to build a new act around was easy. His biting commentary and on stage persona was intentional, as he believed people who tried to do the segment as nice guys did not last long on the show. Fans of SNL enjoyed Miller’s high-pitched giggle, masterfully primped hair, and snarky demeanor that served him well during his six-year tenure with the series.
8 Kevin Nealon
With Dennis Miller’s departure as the Weekend Update anchor in 1991, the famous chair was turned over to Kevin Nealonwho had been a cast member on the show since 1986. Saturday Night Live had recruited Dana Carvey to join the show that same year, and Carvey then recommended his friend Nealon to sign on alongside him. Nealon delivered the hard-hitting headlines for the Weekend Update like a bewildered newsman, playing the straight man to the various off-the-wall Update characters like Tim Meadows’ Ike Turner and Adam Sandler’s Opera Man.
The beauty of Nealon’s dry wit delivery was that he allowed the other characters to shine and never tried to shift the attention back to him, providing a safe space for these oddball personas to thrive. The comedian was with the show for nine years, departing in 1995 after feeling as if he’d been creatively fulfilled; he recently revealed to The Daily Beast podcast, “I had been there for a while, they saw all my tricks. And I got it. I really did not want to stay any longer. I had my fill of it. ”
7 Jimmy Fallon
By the time Jimmy Fallon became a co-host for Weekend Update alongside Tina Fey, he had already been a high-profile cast member since his season twenty-four debut in 1998. The comedian had become famous for his popular impressions of Robert De Niro, Robert Stern and Jerry Seinfeld as well as original characters like IT support nerd Nick Burns and Boston Teen Pat “Sully” Sullivan. He had even auditioned for the series with head writer Tina Fey in the room, who later said, “He’s one of two people I’ve ever seen who was completely ready to be on the show. Kristen Wiig is the other one… And Jimmy was ready – like, if there had been a show to do that night. ”
Fallon’s charisma and chemistry with Fey was on full display for fans of the show, and when he broke character (which he was infamous for doing) it worked with the setup of the news segment. The dynamic duo brought fun and a lightheartedness to Weekend Update, with the two playing well off one another and developing an endearing bond that audiences loved. Fallon and Fey worked together as anchors from 2001 to 2004, with the former signing off after the conclusion of SNL‘s 29th season.
6 Jane Curtin
One of the original Not Ready For Prime Time Players of Saturday Night Live in 1975, Jane Curtin was famous for portraying straight-woman characters, often serving as a foil to the more zany Gilda Radner and John Belushi. Curtin anchored the show’s Weekend Update solely from 1976 to 1977, before being paired with Dan Aykroyd and later Bill Murray. Her deadpan delivery and flexible role as a news anchor proved fruitful for the comedian, especially in the sidesplitting Point / Counterpoint debate segments she did with Aykroyd; the 60 Minutes parody was highlighted by the pair’s banter and Aykroyd’s “Jane, you ignorant slut” opening barrage.
Curtin was very grounded both on-stage and off, and greatly disliked the drug culture that much of the cast participated in. Show writer Al Franken stated that she “was so steady. Had a really strong moral center, and as such was disgusted by much of the show and people around it. ” Sitting behind the desk for Weekend Update was the perfect place for the performer’s dry sense of humor and brand of comedy; Curtin departed the show in 1980 after five years.
5 Amy Poehler
Arguably one of the most successful and adored Saturday Night Live alumni, Amy Poehler joined the cast of the series at the start of the 2001-2002 after Tina Fey had continuously attempted to recruit her. After capturing audiences with her hilarious characters like the hyperactive 10-year-old Kaitlyn and Bronx Beat talk show co-host Betty Caruso, Poehler was promoted to being a full cast member during her debut season, becoming the first woman to do so. In 2004, she became one half of Updates first all-female anchor pairing alongside close friend Tina Fey, where they beautifully bounced off one another and showcased their dynamite chemistry.
For the segment, Poehler was able to showcase her extraordinary impressions and colorful commentary brilliantly. When Fey left SNL in 2006, she was joined by Seth Myers at the Weekend Update anchor desk and unsurprisingly continued to dominate with jokes and laughter until she left in 2008 to have an incredible career on Parks and Recalong with making movies such as Wine Country and a recent documentary about Lucille Ball.
4 Seth Meyers
Before nabbing his own successful late-night talk show, Seth Meyers joined Saturday Night Live as both a cast member and writer for the show’s twenty-seventh season in 2001. He became a co-head writer alongside Tina Fey and Andrew Steele in 2006, and that same year he became a Weekend Update co-anchor with Amy Poehler following Fey’s departure. Meyers excelled at playing the straight-man and letting quirky characters shine, and seemed to effortlessly and humorously banter with the special guests of the segment.
Meyers and Poehler had a popular recurring bit, “Really!?! With Seth and Amy ”that quickly became a fan favorite, and showcased the two mocking people in the news. He was granted the ultimate compliment when he became the sole host of Weekend Update in 2008, truly making the portion of the show his own. His endearing relationship with New York City correspondent Stefon (portrayed by the lovable Bill Hader) became beloved by audiences and the character even helped give Meyers his send-off in 2014.
3 Chevy Chase
One of Saturday Night Live’s most notorious alumni, Chevy Chase starred as one of the Not Ready For Prime Time Players in 1975 and created the famous Weekend Update segment with writer Herb Sargent. Chase helped lay the groundwork for what the sketch would be and would start off each bit by talking on the phone and greeting viewers with his catchphrase “I’m Chevy Chase, and you’re not.” The funnyman was skilled at physical comedy and brought a certain type of dry wit that would become synonymous with the performer.
Though he only stayed on SNL for a year, his contributions to the sketch comedy show were monumental, and he served as a beacon to future Update anchors. In Rolling Stone’s 2015 appraisal of all the cast members to date, Chase was ranked tenth overall for importance, with the publication declaring, “Strange as it sounds, Chase might be the most under-rated SNL player. It took him only one season to define the franchise… without that deadpan arrogance, the whole SNL style would fall flat. ”
2 Norm Macdonald
The late and great legendary performer Norm Macdonald was revered for his deadpan humor and spot-on impressions of celebrities like Burt Reynolds, Larry King, and Bob Dole. The comedian joined the cast of SNL in 1993 and the following year he solely anchored Weekend Update, keeping audiences hooked with his flat delivery and innate gift at making viewers wonder if he was telling a joke or being completely serious.
While his tenure as anchor was controversial and left fans deeply divided, there is no doubt that Norm Macdonald was fearless in molding the segment to his raunchy brand of comedy. He would frequently deliver the news with his handy tape recorder and was not afraid to spout references regarding “crack whores” and the Germans’ unwavering love for Baywatch star David Hasselhoff. Macdonald was demoted from news anchor in 1998 due to claims of low ratings, but the funnyman believed the true reason for his dismissal was his series of OJ Simpson jokes in which he repeatedly called him a murderer. He left the show later that year.
1 Tina Fey
Saturday Night Live‘s first female head writer Tina Fey joined the juggernaut program in 1997, initially working behind the camera before performing in sketches in 2000. She and Jimmy Fallon teamed up as co-anchors for Weekend Update, and not only wrote her clever jokes but also delivered them with zest and precise comedic timing. Her role behind the news desk and hilariously well executed joke telling was well received by critics, with Entertainment Weekly writing: “Fey delivers such blow darts – poison filled jokes written in long, precisely parsed sentences unprecedented in Weekend Update history – with such a bright, sunny countenance makes her all the more devilishly delightful. ”
Fey dazzled audiences with her unflappable demeanor, and the lively lady only got better when she was paired with Amy Poehler; their banter and quick-fire jokes were equally effective and uproarious. Fey is without a doubt one of the greatest talents to come from SNLand she used her experience to create 30 Rockone of the best sitcoms of its decade
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