- Dennis Miller– Might be a douchebag, but is the gold standard for this job. His ascerbic style and arcane references brought a new type of intelligence to topical humor. The Daily Show was built off of the blueprint left by Miller. Plus, A. Whitney Brown was a commentator during Miller time. Makes you wonder why SNL doesn’t hire some political comic to bring some intelligence to the Update today.
- Norm Macdonald– During his peak was the funniest anchor in SNL history. I can’t think of a more polarizing figure in comedy, as you either love or hate his deadpan delivery and eclectic material. Frank Stallone and David Hasselhoff were beautiful names in Macdonald’s world, while CRACKWHORE turned out to be the funniest punchline to any joke. His jokes on O.J. Simpson were enough to put him 2nd of this list. "O.J. Simpson did not spend Mothers Day with his children. When asked about it he replied, ‘Duh! Because I killed their mother!"
- Dan Akroyd and Jane Curtin– The best parody of a actual local television newscast, only if the anchors were smart. The dislike that they portrayed towards each other was brilliant, especially during their point/counterpoint segments.
- Bill Murray and Jane Curtin– Murray took over the gig and by 1979 was basically carrying the show, much like Eddie Murphy and Will Ferrell did later on. It was here that the true Murray personality came out for the first time on television. A who gives a shit attitude done with impeccable timing.
- Chevy Chase– If he would have done the show longer than 1 year, he might have moved up here, but still his goofy charm really cemented the Weekend Update segment as a permanent part of the show. While he played like he was stupid, what Chase said was much smarter than what it appeared like on the surface.
- Kevin Nealon– His sarcastic tone can be hard to get into sometime, but the Updates were generally good when he was doing them, partially because of great guest segments by Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, and Chris Rock.
- Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers– I think Meyers has brought a much needed realism to the show, as under Tina Fey SNL was often too high concept for my liking. When Poehler finishes up, her Best of Saturday Night Live DVD will be the top compliation by any female cast member during the show’s history.
- Tina Fey and Amy Poehler– Fey has that sexy librarian charm that makes all the boys who like Suicidegirls go crazy. She and Poehler were very good together, but as a man I will admit I need a little male perspective in my politcal comedy. The segments seemed too Liberal in their targets.
- Charles Rocket– The show was terrible during the season of 1980-1981, but I can remember thinking Rocket was good. He ended up saying Fuck during one sketch, which got him booted from the show. His post-SNL career was spotty, but was very good playing Bruce Willis’ brother on Moonlighting.
- Colin Quinn– New York comic friend’s of mine were raving about Quinn since the mid-90’s, telling me how great of a stand-up he was. I’ve never quite understood why they were such big fans, but I do think Quinn is a smart, funny guy. He was pretty bad as a SNL anchor, as he seems to have a hard time stringing a few sentences together without stammering. I think Quinn is at his best when he is a guest on a radio show, not hosting a show. If Greg Giraldo would have been hosting Tough Crowd on Comedy Central, it might still be on. Speaking of Giraldo, he would be a great host for Weekend Update.
Those Not Ranked
I really don’t remember the tenures of Brian Doyle-Murray or Brad Hall, but I do know they never annoyed me. Of everyone on this list, the only person that has ever sat in the SNL anchor chair who came off like the job was intellectually above them was Jimmy Fallon. When you are most worried about getting teenage girls to make your advertisers happy, Fallon seems like an inspired choice. Considering the storied history of the segment, I think the show should strive for more than this, though. I think the current team of Meyers and Poehler are the best the Weekend Update segment has been during the past 10 years.