May 16, 2014 at 7:42 AM ET
When Andy Samberg takes the “Saturday Night Live” stage this weekend to wrap up the show’s historic 39th season, his very presence will be proof of what an awesome comedy farm team the show has become.
Samberg, who left the show in 2012, now heads up a hit TV show, "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," and even won a Golden Globe for it in January. And he's not the only recent "SNL" grad to break big.
Kings of late night: Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers
"SNL" runs: Fallon (1998-2004); Meyers (2001-14)
From “Weekend Update” desk duty to ruling NBC’s late night airwaves, Fallon and Meyers proved they can step outside the comedy sketch box and into fully grown-up (if still kind of sophomoric when they choose) roles in the wee hours. Fallon’s genial good humor has done him well in late night’s most prestigious spot, a worthy successor to Johnny Carson and Jay Leno who also injected “Tonight” with a unique brand of musical satire. Meanwhile, Meyers is a sharp-edged, winking New Millennium guy who fits right into the slot Fallon vacated at “Late Night.”
Best bits: “Weekend Update” anchors, in both cases.
Queens of sit-comedy: Amy Poehler and Tina Fey
"SNL" runs: Poehler (2001-08); Fey (1997-2006)
Fallon and Meyers may now own late night’s turf, but Poehler and Fey have ruled primetime for years. Fey’s “30 Rock” not only was a terrific way to show off NBC’s legendary NYC headquarters, it also won three comedy series Emmys over its seven season run. Meanwhile, Poehler’s “Parks and Recreation” series was just renewed for its seventh season and has its own clutch of Emmy nominations. On top of all that, both ladies have made Golden Globes night 100 percent funnier and better as hosts for the past two years.
Best bits: Hillary Clinton (Poehler) and Sarah Palin (Fey). The standard by which all other dynamic duos must be compared.
Guy most likely to: Jason Sudeikis
"SNL" run: 2005-2013
He’ll be replacing fellow “SNL” grad Chevy Chase as Fletch in the upcoming “Fletch Won,” along with a clutch of other feature films including “Horrible Bosses 2,” but these days fans are equally as likely to hear Sudeikis mentioned as the fiancé of super-hot actress Olivia Wilde (with whom he just had a baby).
Best bit: “The Devil,” a red satin clad embodiment of evil.
Oscar bait: Will Forte
"SNL" run: 2002-10
Forte’s surreal humor and equally offbeat good looks landed him right in the middle of Academy Awards season with one of his first starring roles in a feature film: “Nebraska,” for which he received a supporting actor nomination.
Best bit: “MacGruber.” OK, the 2010 film didn’t do so hot, but his parody of action heroes was spot-on every time.
Most versatile: Kristin Wiig
"SNL" run: 2005-12
The “Bridesmaids” writer, producer, and actress can do it all, and proved it with her 2011 comedy, which earned her an Oscar writing nomination. She can be rude and crude with the best of them, but has a subtle, softer side (last year’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”?)
Best bit: “Target Lady,” the super-talkative checkout cashier who was so awesome that stock boy Daniel Radcliffe fell for her.
Local hero: Fred Armisen
"SNL" run: 2002-13
Armisen’s IFC series “Portlandia,” with co-star Carrie Brownstein, is chugging along strong after four seasons skewering the super-hip lifestyle in the Beaver State.
Best bit: “Prince.” Master of imitations Armisen could play just about anyone, but his Purple One was truly worthy of royal mention.
“Saturday Night Live” wraps up the season on May 17 at 11:35 p.m. on NBC.
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