Wiig returns as SNL host for the first time Saturday since leaving the show last year, and we are pumped because we've been jonesing for a little bit of veteran talent. With the exception of SNL graybeards Bill Hader, Kenan Thompson, and Jason Sudeikis, the sketch-comedy show has been uneven this season. And with a war chest of characters, Wiig has freedom to pick her best weapons to get the show back on track. Here are five characters we hope she resurrects — and three she should most definitely avoid:
Characters We Want to See
1. Dooneese from The Lawrence Welk Show Dooneese is the black sheep in a singing sister act and sports a mega-sized forehead and tiny peg-like hands. She follows vaguely in the mold of Molly Shannon's Mary Katherine Gallagher from Superstar or Chevy Chase's Gerald Ford as a very slapstick character. Wiig does her best work with physical comedy, and Dooneese's oddball traits against the bizarro backdrop of the Lawrence Welk Show, is like stumbling into someone's jokey Branson, Mo., fantasyland.
2. Kris Jenner We know — enough Kardashians! Kris Jenner, though, is an impression that hasn't been performed to our satisfaction yet. Besides, we think Wiig could make it work. Just imagine her gaunt and heavily made-up face staring into the camera with Jenner's creepy, dead eyes. And with Kim Kardashian pregnant, this would be a prime opportunity for Wiig to spoof the mom-ager-turned-talk show host interviewing her own daughter.
3. Aunt Linda The cranky movie and pop culture critic is funny in a retro Mama's Family way and could be resurrected on "Weekend Update" with ease. We miss this endearing misanthrope who uses "Gaahs" as a unit of review and rolls her head with her mouth agape to emphasize a point. Maybe it's because she reminds us of one of our own family members?
4. Paula Deen Wiig makes this caricature of the Food Network star's public persona a big, sloppy mess of fun, especially when she's double-fisting a chicken drumstick and a stick of butter ... and then licks the butter as if it were an ice cream cone. And we hate to admit it, but we find it hilarious when she refers to Deen's condition, diabetes, as "the sugars." It's wrong, but oh-so sweet!
5. Tie: Kathie Lee Gifford/Drew Barrymore OK that's technically two roles, but they each showcase such diverse skills on Wiig's part that we had to cheat a little. Mouth movements go a long way in comedy, and Wiig brings that particular way that Barrymore talks from her side mouth to life. It's subtle, but still feels fresh. As for spoofing Kathie Lee, Wiig brings the comedic energy to her whole body and is all over the place, flinging herself up and down off the desk. She's a veritable Tasmanian devil next to the frozen Today co-host Hoda Kotb (played by the brilliant Nasim Pedrad). And of course, no homage to the fourth hour of Today is complete without frequent references to drinking.
Characters We Don't Want to See
1. Katharine Hepburn Playing the legendary Oscar winner has been done so many times, it has become as clichéd as imitating Jack Nicholson or Christopher Walken. And sadly, Wiig's impersonation doesn't add anything new, just the stereotypical over-the-top Hepburn trademarks: high-pitched squeals, elaborate arm movements and overstated arrogance. Besides, Wiig can't top Martin Short, who arguably created SNL's most bizarre and yet uncannily accurate take on the screen icon.
2. Tanning Mom Patricia Krentcil Not only is this character a mess to look at, but Wiig doesn't add to the personality or tics of the real New Jersey mother who brought her 5-year-old daughter to a salon to tan. She's just an ultra-bronzed woman who hacks uncontrollably every minute. Given that Tanning Mom is not as relevant as when Wiig was on SNL, we're hoping she's not coming back.
3. Gilly Sorry, everyone, but you can hate on this one. There isn't a whole lot to Gilly, the troublemaking student with an oversized, dark afro. After a lot of buildup, the comic payoff is really lame, usually Gilly saying, "Sorry!" The only way we would even consider another Gilly skit is if guest star Sofia Vergara has a part in it. The way the Modern Family star delivers an admonishing, "Gilly!" brings charm to an otherwise pointless bit.
We can't wait for Wiig's return to SNL, which airs Saturday at 11:30/10:30c on NBC. Break a leg, Kristen! Hopefully as Dooneese!
Who are your favorite and least favorite SNL Kristen Wiig characters? Will you tune in?