5. Barbara DeDrew
Whiskers R We may have a rotating staff that doubles as DeDrew’s many turtlenecked lovers, but McKinnon has the sketch’s mainstay on lock. The cat-obsessed senior DeDrew revels in puns as much as she does pussies, and when she isn’t giggling about her latest quip, she’s trying her darndest to keep her co-worker’s hands off her while still promoting the temperamental cats available for adoption. The sketch is ripe for play in all forms, and funniest of all is watching McKinnon trying to keep things going while the episode’s host does her best to knock things off track.
4. Debette Goldry
Women in Hollywood have made immense strides from where they started at the industry’s birth, but senior actress Debette Goldry appears on roundtables and talk shows alike to remind everyone how things used to be. Delivered in McKinnon’s matter-of-fact style, which makes the outrageous seem normal and therefore somehow more outrageous, Goldry outlines all the horrible ways Hollywood and its powerful men treated her. By downplaying what she’s experienced—from being give drugs to wake up to being treated similar to a monkey—Goldry lands her criticism more sharply than she would if it she recognized and understood all she’d been through.
3. Hillary Clinton
McKinnon had serious shoes to fill when she took over playing Clinton from Amy Poehler, who had been handling the political figure during her time on the show. McKinnon could have gone big, exaggerating Clinton’s features to a cartoonish degree, but instead she inhabited her quietly and with the kind of composure that won big laughs by playing opposite Larry David as Bernie Sanders and Alec Baldwin as Trump. Following the 2016 presidential election, McKinnon provided a somber, telling moment at the piano that dove past easy laughs and instead played straight for the heart, showcasing her ability to inject empathy into any character.
2. Sheila Sovage
Sovage can be found at any local watering hole in the dark hours between dusk and dawn when decisions never seem their strongest. As the representative barstool denizen for the pathetic, Sovage has appeared in several sketches where she woos (if one can call it that) an equally bizarre character played by hosts like Vince Vaughn, Louis C.K. and Dave Chappelle. The seductive and sketchy dance Sovage does with her potential one-night lovers leaves an indelible mark on any viewers’ brain that feels as though it’ll take an acid bath to remove.
1. Kellyanne Conway
As the talking head that spent much of Donald Trump’s campaign defending his actions, his speech, his policies and more, Conway doesn’t exactly come across as a redeeming figure in the political landscape. But McKinnon plays Trump’s right hand woman with an air of self-deprecation and regret, adding a layer that—while it doesn’t seem to exist in real life—ends up reflecting how much of SNL’s viewers feel at the thought of his presidency. Her staid, almost quietly mundane, delivery picks up on Conway’s essence and twists it into a new perspective that shines a light on the behind-the-scenes horror many would like to imagine took place in her meetings with Trump.
Amanda Wicks is a freelance journalist specializing in comedy and music. Follow her on Twitter @aawicks.