Greatest Saturday Night Live Characters Of All Time

Studio 8H inside 30 Rockefeller Center has a seating capacity of 246. And there are an estimated 70,000 people from around the world that apply to go see the world-class sketch comedy show each week.


or people who hate math, we apologize, and suggest just moving onto learning about the Chewing Gum Wars of 1939, where famous New Yorkers eat or the history of the Comedy Cellar, otherwise, the first person to correctly email with the percentage chance of being awarded a pass to see Saturday Night Live will be provided with a complimentary hotel room for one night in New York City along with dinner for two at a restaurant near 30 Rock…maybe on a Saturday night. Now, while the mathematicians are distracted, we would like to share the results from a long-running internal debate of who the most legendary SNL characters of all-time might be. Feel free to review the following rigorously researched and assiduously fact checked list of several characters who placed their mark in The Saturday Night Live Hall of Fame, at least according to Whalebone.

Live from New York

Gene Frenkle

  • WHO: Professional cowbell player (portrayed by Will Ferrell who wrote the sketch with playwright Donnell Campbell) whose overzealous playing annoys his bandmates but pleases producer Bruce Dickinson
  • WHEN: Originally aired April 8, 2000 and was referenced on several episodes for years to come, including instances of Ferrell making reappearances as Frenkle playing cowbell alongside musical guests Queens of the Stone Age and Green Day
  • GUESTS: Perhaps as equally notorious as Frenkle is Christopher Walken’s portrayal of band producer Bruce Dickinson
  • FAMOUS LINE: “More cowbell!”
  • CURRENTLY: Continues to play freelance cowbell wherever he can, making appearances on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, in the 2011 video for “Make Some Noise” by the Beastie Boys, and an episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Watch the original skit here… because apparently, NBC won’t let us share this gem.


  • WHO: One of the four Maharelle sisters from the Finger Lakes, who perform on The Lawrence Welk Show (a musical variety show from the ’50s–’70s) played by Kristen Wiig. Sketch features Dooneese and her three attractive and flirtatious sisters (unlike Dooneese, who has an extremely large forehead, tiny hands like Trump, and an odd canine tooth). Each sister takes a turn to sing, Dooneese last, and her contribution is always weird or inappropriate, making advances on men in the show
  • WHEN: Originally aired October 4, 2008, but made appearances every year until 2013
  • FAMOUS LINE: “Is that bad?” and “And I’m Dooneese”
  • GUESTS: Frequently takes the stage with other guests such as James Franco, Betty White and Will Ferrell
  • CURRENTLY: Largely inactive since 2013, perhaps hiding from the public eye due to her inappropriate comments during performances

Wayne and Garth

  • WHO: Two TV anchors/rockers (Mike Myers and Dana Carvey) who host a local public-access television program in Aurora, Illinois, filmed in Wayne’s parents’ basement—also where he lives. Exploits included discussions of their love of hard rock bands and babes and tricking their guests into saying vulgar words or going over lists of “females with whom Wayne would like to have sexual intercourse”
  • WHEN: The first instance appeared in the 13th Saturday Night Live episode of 1988/1989 and then ended in ’94, until resurfacing on two episodes since, including the 40th Anniversary of SNL
  • GUESTS: Guests included an interview and jam session with their idols, Aerosmith, performing an extended version of the “Wayne’s World” theme, and Tom Hanks played Garth’s cousin who was an Aerosmith roadie
  • LINE: “Party on, Wayne. Party on, Garth.” and “Schwing!”
  • CURRENTLY: After their original debut on SNL, spawned two successful movies (Wayne’s World 1 and 2, 1992 and 1993) and also hosted the 2008 MTV Movie Awards

Barb Kelner

  • WHO: Melissa McCarthy plays Barb Kelner, a woman who’s interested in acquiring a bank loan for an upstart pizza-eating business, meaning that she wants to make a career out of eating people’s leftover pizza or “The Pizza Eater”
  • WHEN: Originally aired April 6, 2013
  • GUESTS: Featured alongside her in the skit, Jason Sudeikis portrays the banker whom Barb wants a loan from and later, Fred Armisen as the co-worker
  • LINE: “I’m Barb Kelner and I’m the Pizza Eater.” and “I legitimately love eating pizza.”
  • CURRENTLY: Though things weren’t looking good for Kelner’s business initially during the skit, when Fred Armisen walked in and said, “I wish there was a better way for getting rid of old pizza,” Kelner returned, proving that there was a demand for her business. Shortly after, Sudeikis saw the error of his ways and promptly granted her a small business loan for $1 million. Since then, Kelner has gone on to run NYC’s most successful pizza-eating business and is even a frequent guest host on Shark Tank, due to her genius for developing successful business strategies

Matt Foley

  • WHO: Matt Foley was the opposite of a good motivational speaker, appearing down on his luck, harsh and clumsy. The character (portrayed by Chris Farley) was named after one of his Marquette University rugby union teammates of the same name (currently serving in the Army). Foley was created by Bob Odenkirk, although Farley used the character in other comedy groups before being a member on the show. Sketches included Foley giving terrible advice, making exaggerated gestures and destroying furniture or injuring himself. This first began by accident when Farley fell on a coffee table that was part of the set (not a breakaway table mind you) obliterating it.
  • WHEN: Originally aired May 8, 1993, and featured multiple times a year until 1997, a film version with David Spade was planned in the last months of Farley’s life, but the character would never resurface (due to his death) until the 40th anniversary of SNL, played by Melissa McCarthy
  • LINE: “Well, la-dee-freakin’-da!” and “… in a van down by the river!”
  • GUESTS: David Spade and Christina Applegate played the teens in need of his help, seen frequently covering their own real laughter due to Foley’s antics
  • CURRENTLY: Foley now lives on as one of the greatest characters and skits of SNL’s entire history, living on in memory… 35 years old, thrice divorced and living in a van down by the river.