Not ready for prime time

The 20 best and 20 worst performances from SNL alumni
By RYAN STEWART  |  April 13, 2006

NUMBER ONE: I mean, was there really any doubt?With the release of yet another film starring former Saturday Night Live stars trying in vain to recapture the glories of their Lorne Michaels days - that would be The Benchwarmers starring David Spade and Rob Schneider - we figured now is as good a time as any to determine which SNLers did the best after leaving the NBC womb (or while they were still on the show), which ones fared the worst, and which ones have reached both ends of the spectrum. Below, our (purely subjective) findings. Don't agree? Leave a comment below.

20 best:

1. Bill Murray, Ghostbusters – Murray plays Dr. Peter Venkman – back off, he's a scientist – who, along with his fellow ghostbusting cohorts, saves the city from the return of Gozer. But it's his effortless deadpan sarcasm that makes him the easy choice for the top of this pile.

2. Eddie Murphy, Beverly Hills Cop - Axel Foley might be the funniest, smartest cop in the history of funny, smart cops. Nobody else in any other year could have done that better than Eddie Murphy in 1984.

3.  John Belushi, Animal House – Belushi plays the future Senator Blutarsky and permanently cements his place in film history with one great speech. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

4. Will Ferrell, Anchorman - “I don't know how to put this, but . . . I'm kind of a big deal”

5. Christopher Guest, Waiting For Guffman – Guest plays Corky St. Clair, the community theater director responsible for, among other things, a stirring stage adaptation of Backdraft. This Is Spinal Tap predates his SNL work, so it doesn't qualify here. . .

6. Harry Shearer, This Is Spinal Tap – But it does count for Shearer, who was on SNL in Lorne Michaels's last season before quitting in 1980. Shearer left, too, and came back with Guest in the Ebersol years after Tap performed on the show. They did not do "Stonehenge."

7. Dan Aykroyd, Dragnet – Underrated film that actually casts Aykroyd as the straight-laced Joe Friday with Tom Hanks (not yet the drama powerhouse he is these days) as his slovenly sidekick. I actually enjoyed this one more than Blues Brothers. There, I said it.

8. Chevy Chase, National Lampoon's Vacation - “This is crazy . . . this is crazy . . .” Stiff competition here from Funny Farm and Caddyshack.

9. Mike Myers, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery – Myers's tribute to English spy classics saw him interpreting James Coburn and Michael Caine as the film's titular protag and, though he denied it when asked in Live From New York, Dr. Evil is basically a Lorne Michaels imitation.

10. Dana Carvey, Wayne's World – Carvey's awkward second banana Garth is funnier than Myers's leading man, Wayne. Unfortunately, this discrepancy was not reflected in their subsequent film careers.

11. Phil Hartman, So I Married an Axe Murderer – The late, great Hartman only has a small role as a tour guide at Alcatraz, but damn if it isn't a doozy: “They took turns pissing into the bitch's eyes . . . this way to the cafeteria!”

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Related: The Benchwarmers, The Love Guru, Review: Grown Ups, More more >
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