9 Reasons Kate McKinnon Will Go Down As A Saturday Night Live GOAT

She Is The First Openly Gay Female Cast Member On 'SNL'

Saturday Night Live has been an institution of late-night weekend watching for more than 40 years, and it seems that each generation of cast members has one or two standouts who make or break their respective seasons. Ever since she joined the cast in 2012, one of those standouts has been the great and inimitable Kate McKinnon. Unlike anyone else on the series, McKinnon has grown and developed her craft and has become the one female comedian everyone tunes in to see. Looking at her career, it’s easy to understand why.

McKinnon has made a career of impersonating other celebrities. She does it so well she’s become an institution of her own having gone so far as to become Hillary Clinton on stage, which is one of McKinnon’s best impressions. With her work on SNL, McKinnon has managed to create a successful voice-acting, feature film-leading, book reading, and everything else in Hollywood career that few current and former cast members could hope to emulate.

What makes this New York native such an amazing entertainer who is easily one of the best SNL cast members ever? Looking back through her time on the show and what led up to it, it’s no wonder Kate McKinnon became one of the greatest all-time comedians on Saturday Night Live.

1. She Is The First Openly Gay Female Cast Member On ‘SNL’

She Is The First Openly Gay Female Cast Member On 'SNL'

Kate McKinnon is the first openly gay woman to star on SNL, and that title has a lot to do with her youth and television. Around the same time she was introduced to SNL at the age of 12, she watched Gillian Anderson on The X-Files, which gave her a “physiological reaction” helping her understand her sexuality. Years later, she would go on to appear alongside Anderson in the film The Spy Who Shagged Me.

McKinnon has never been shy about her sexuality, and was well-known in the LGBTQ+ community long before making her way to SNL. She appeared in 23 episodes of The Big Gay Sketch Show between 2007 and 2010 before achieving her dream and becoming a cast member on SNL. While she is the first openly gay female cast member, she isn’t the first to star on the series. Though they weren’t as open as McKinnon, both Terry Sweeney and Danitra Vance predated McKinnon in that capacity on SNL.

2. Bill Hader Was Kicked Out Of Her Audition For Laughing So Hard

Bill Hader Was Kicked Out Of Her Audition For Laughing So Hard

Bill Hader has been one of SNL‘s primary players for years, which made him one of the people McKinnon had to impress when she auditioned for the show’s 38th season. Lorne Michaels has a standing rule that nobody is allowed to laugh during a prospective cast member’s audition, but Hader famously broke that rule while McKinnon was performing.

When he was interviewed on The Ellen Show, Hader explained that during McKinnon’s audition, “I started laughing so hard they were like, get the hell out of here!” Hader was kicked out of room, which must have been a good sign for up and coming star McKinnon at the time.

3. She Has Won Two Emmys For Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series

She Has Won Two Emmys For Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series

Like any talented actor or actress who works hard in the industry, McKinnon has been awarded numerous times for her entertaining portrayals of various people and characters. Throughout her stay on SNL, she has been honored twice with the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. While this is an amazing achievement, it didn’t come without controversy.

When McKinnon was awarded the Emmy in 2017, her acceptance speech was cut off before she could finished. The orchestra kicked in just as she said, “Being part of this season of Saturday Night Live is the most meaningful thing I will ever do. Congratulations to our incredible cast…”

The break came as she was just about to name Hillary Clinton, the woman who inspired her most famous impersonation. Despite this acceptance speech snag, her win was an incredible achievement and her second Emmy two years in a row.

4. Hillary Clinton Mentions McKinnon In Her Memoir ‘What Happened?’

Hillary Clinton Mentions McKinnon In Her Memoir 'What Happened?'

Despite being the front-runner for most of the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump, and a short time after the election ended, Clinton published a book titled, What Happened?Just after the election came to an end, SNL did its thing and McKinnon reprised her role as Clinton once more to sing the song “Hallelujah” during the show’s election week cold open.

Clinton then commented on that performance in her book writing:

On the Saturday after the election, I turned on Saturday Night Live and watched Kate McKinnon open the show with her impression of me one more time. She sat at a grand piano and played ‘Hallelujah,’ the hauntingly beautiful song by Leonard Cohen, who had died days before. As she sang, it seemed like she was fighting back tears. Listening, so was I.

McKinnon told Jimmy Fallon that she was listening to Clinton’s audiobook and freaked out as she heard herself mentioned.

5. She Has A Knack For Making Everyone Around Her ‘Break’

She Has A Knack For Making Everyone Around Her 'Break'

On a live show like SNL, there’s a term called “breaking,” which refers to an actor laughing at what’s going on during a scene. Cast members actively work to stay in character, but since the show is a comedy, such a feat is not always possible. Nearly everyone has broken at one time or another, including McKinnon, but more often than not, she is the one causing everyone else to crack at her antics.

Just like Bill Hader during her audition, nearly every person who has sat in on one of her sketches has cracked a smile once or twice. That being said, a particular sketch involving her character, Ms. Rafferty, has led to every single guest host breaking. It happens most often during the “Paranormal Encounter” sketches, and the host isn’t the only one to slip up. Aidy Bryant often loses her composure during these sketches, but it’s easy to see why. McKinnon offers a deadpan, yet hilarious explanation of her often sexual and odd encounters with the paranormal.

6. She’s A Beautiful Woman, But Routinely Plays Old Creepy Men Perfectly

She's A Beautiful Woman, But Routinely Plays Old Creepy Men Perfectly

There aren’t many people who would look at a woman like McKinnon and think she would make for a good and convincing old man. Fortunately, there are a few people working over at SNL who saw beyond the attractive young comedian, and the show became all the better for it. As the antics of the Trump White house continued to become embroiled in legal controversy and speculation of wrongdoing, nearly every week saw McKinnon playing a new central figure, and nearly all of them were older men.

Sure, she played Kellyann Conway, but for every blonde woman she portrayed, there was an old white guy waiting in the shadows. Throughout her time on SNL, McKinnon has portrayed Jeff Sessions, Robert Mueller, Lindsey Graham, and Rudy Guiliani. She plays these men so well odds are she will continue to do so for the next election season.

7. She’s The Longest Serving Female Cast Member

She's The Longest Serving Female Cast Member

SNL has had its fair share of talented women in the cast, but Kate McKinnon holds a distinction. After Vanessa Bayer left in 2017, McKinnon became the longest-serving female cast member in the show’s history. She debuted on the series as a featured player in April 2012, and as the series ended its 44th season in early 2019, she had been on the show for more than seven years.

Kenan Thompson is the longest serving cast member in the shows history, closing out season 44 with 16 years. McKinnon has a ways to go to catch up to him, but she’s left all the other female players in her dust.

8. She Became An ‘SNL’ Fan In 1996 Because Of Her Father

She Became An 'SNL' Fan In 1996 Because Of Her Father

For most young Americans growing up, it’s not easy to sneak a viewing of SNL since it doesn’t air until 11:30 pm (EST), long after most kids have gone to bed. For McKinnon, it was actually her father who prompted her to watch the series back in 1996 when she was only 12-years-old.

It was her father’s love for the show that brought it to her attention, and she explained in an interview with Glamour that it is also part of what prompted her to pursue a career as a comedian.

9. She Played Hillary Clinton For The First Time In 2013

She Played Hillary Clinton For The First Time In 2013

Hillary Clinton has been an important figure in politics for decades thanks to her role as First Lady, US Senator, Secretary of State, and two-time Presidential candidate. Like all politicians, this means she was fodder for the writers and comedians of SNL, and over the years, a total of nine women have portrayed her. The likes of Jan Hooks, Janeane Garogffalo, Vanessa Bayer, Ana Gasteyer, Amy Poehler, Drew Barrymore, Rachel Dratch, and even Miley Cyrus have put on a pantsuit and pretended to be Clinton at one time or another, but perhaps the most notable of all performers has been Kate McKinnon.

Not only has she been a hilariously convincing Hillary Clinton since she first began portraying her in 2013, she even had the opportunity to appear alongside her muse in a sketch on the show. During the 2016 Presidential Campaign, Clinton stopped by the set at 30 Rock to appear with McKinnon in character. The politician took a few jabs at herself, and the sketch was well received, but it was perhaps more important to McKinnon than anyone else. In an interview with Rolling Stone, McKinnon described meeting Clinton before the sketch:

Here’s a person who’s effecting change on a worldwide stage, and my job is doing voices. Why are we in the same room? This doesn’t seem right, but there we were. She was just so grand, but also so warm and sincere. And her timing was great.