Saturday, January 23, 2021

Lois and Clark: The Adventures of Superman, Kryptonie, Screwball Comedies, and Old-Timey Newspaper Tropes

 How can you make an invincible character work dramatically? A walking dues-ex-machina like Superman is much less dynamic then, say, the X-Men who have various strengths and weaknesses.

Ahh, but kryptonite, there’s the rub. So if correctly employed in a script, Superman would either be completely on or completely off. Still kind of clunky, no?

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That concern was on my mind when I decided to revisit Lois and Clark. The 1990s Superman reboot that focused on the budding romance between Superman and reporter Lois Lane was notable for one of my first celebrity crushes in Teri Hatcher and, I can’t remember much else, unfortunately.

What I found was a show in the very conscious mold of a screwball comedy. The genre solidified on stage and on screen during the Great Depression with a society reeling from the loss in wealth and class status. Status is key to the genre as both parts of the romantic coupling have a mix of higher and lower social statuses in relation to the other that must be bridged to make a more perfect union. For instance, in Bringing Up Baby, Katherine Hepburn’s character has the assets of having more inner confidence and being more fun than Cary Grant’s character while having the disadvantage of being a woman and having less of an actual job (she appears idle rich). In Ball of Fire, Barbara Stanwyck’s character has the assets of confidence, sexual experience, street smarts and quite possibly greater material wealth (she’s the sweetheart of a mobster), while her counterpart (Gary Cooper) has the assets of stability (he has a house which she needs), and a different sort of cultural status as a member of an academic aristocracy of sorts.

In Lois and Clark, Lois Lane is a whip-smart and well-connected reporter thriving in a man’s world. She’s literally the boss of Clark which is the clearest difference of status attainable. So what does Clark bring in return? Secret super powers! It also helps that their career as muckraking reporters (which almost involves more muckraking than would be permissible by modern standards) get them into a lot of trouble so that Clark can come in handy. Thus, Clark’s struggles as a man trying to create a life for himself often comes down to the decision over whether to use his super powers and how to do it subtly.

Like the most famous screwball comedy about reporters, His Girl Friday (or the play The Front Page from which it drew its inspiration), Lois and Clark also harkens to an earlier era of the newspaper industry.

Let’s talk about how Lois and Clark treats newspapers:

In this version of the Daily Herald newsroom, the boss, Perry White, has a hard-nosed management style might come across as cruel by modern day standards. His biggest concern is getting the scoop and he fosters a hyper-competitive environment dedicated to that aim. Reporters seem to be demotes or promotes reporters based on their ability to get him juicy information.

In a modern day newsroom, an editor would assign beats to reporters and work on building an audience across multiple platforms. He or she would have a team dedicated to what’s known as long-form journalism to take on big-issue stories such as government corruption or (in this universe) the dastardly deeds of super-villains. They wouldn’t switch reporters to whatever story is hot at the moment, because the editor would want to build brands. This would involve building a following among the the community for their crime reporter or reporter for the mayor’s office.

The function is different here for obvious logistical reasons. Lois Lane needs to be in every story, so she has to be covering every beat and be at the center or else the episodes are 1% as interesting. Additionally, Lane needs to have powers that are comparable to super powers in her ability to scoop out a story.

But more importantly, in the days of Hecht and MacArthur, scooping was everything. Rival newspapers in most major cities were fighting enormous circulation wars and newspapers would print two editions a day so that readers could be apprised of the latest news immediately. Think of it as the twelve-hour news cycle. In other words, customers made their choice between competing products twice a day and a big pay day could await if one newspaper if they could feature details about a story that another paper didn’t have.

Despite what this show wants you to think, life or death doesn’t depend on a news story being released so waiting on a story long enough to ensure accuracy or quality is generally a better thing.

Saturday, January 09, 2021

25 Best Characters on TV in 2020

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  1. Linda Cardinelli as Judy Hale, Dead to Me-A wet ball of emotion caught in the center of an accidental murder in this dark comedy, Judy is magnetic in her endless positivity, empathy, and hope. She deservedly wins over the cynic Jen Harding and her family and when the two break down crying, it’s worth all the feels. The character is also cleverly dressed in bright colors and cute outfits to radiate her persona and even in times of distress, she remains resolved to make lemonade out of lemons.
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2. Mahershala Ali as Sheikh Malik, Ramy- Ali is the first Muslim to win an Academy Award in acting and he reportedly jumped at the chance to be in the most mainstream piece of pop culture portraying American Muslims to date. His character oozes wisdom and authority and there’s a lot to be said about the way Ali pauses in conversations to show that he doesn’t take even basic human interaction lightly.

3. Awkwafina as Nora, Awkwafina is Nora from Queens-Awkwafina broke out in Crazy Rich Asians and has had a number of notable roles on screen in an astonishingly short time but if you want to see her unleashed in her full comic glory, you have to watch Nora from Queens. The character is a developmentally stunted late twenty-something with minimal job credentials who lives at home and completely owns her mediocrity in all its glory. Awkwafina works the character’s baseless positivity through physical comedy, voice inflections, and facial tics and it’s a master class.

4. Jack Quaid as Hughie, The Boys-The closest equivalent modern television has to a Hitchcockian hero a la North by Northwest or The 39 Steps. Jack is constantly over his head and never asked to be on the wrong end of a global conspiracy but he has gradually grown into the role and is a great one to root for.

5. Belinda Bromilow as Auntie Elizabeth, The Great-Cautious enablers of autocrats might not necessarily be in vogue right now, but the beauty of a period piece is it enables us to look at characters from a distance. Rather than looking at Elizabeth as a proverbial Ivanka to an 18th century Donald Trump, we can simply take her as an interesting character on her own merits and that she is. She’s firmly old money but is quite sharp for a woman in a pre-feminist era and is never out of the loop of court intrigue.

6. Chris Rock as Loy Cannon, Fargo-Rock has been ill-served by a filmography that couldn’t successfully harness his comic gifts or speech cadences. If Chris Rock were to ever fit into a dramatic role, this would be it. It channels his observational prowess, punctuated line delivery and adds a hint of world weariness.

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7. Hank Azaria as Jim Brockmire, Brockmire-Alcoholic characters are a dime a dozen but Brockmire is a truly unique brand of mess. Predicated on a Funny-or-Die sketch in which a baseball broadcaster can’t stop tourets-ing about his personal demons on air, Brockmire has been a hilarious character for four seasons whether he’s winning or losing at life. The show’s final season saw the character closing out his own life out on a win. Considering how impossible this seemed from the outset, it was nothing short of inspiring.

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8. Jo Firestone as Sarah, Joe Pera Talks to You-In this sweet subplot of two oddballs connecting romantically, Sarah has some lovely quirks. She compliments Joe nicely through her social awkwardness as she is afraid of crowds and has moments of frustration that hint at something deeper. She’s never not animated whereas he is more reserved. The biggest bombshell about Sarah, however, is that she casually believes in an imminent apocalypse like it ain’t no thing. Bring on the brimstone.

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9. Ramy Yousef as Ramy, Ramy-How refreshing is it that a male TV show protagonist isn’t about trying to get laid but trying to avoid the perils of sexual temptation? Whatever your thoughts are about religion or Ramy’s particular religion, watching Ramy struggle on his journey is rarely devoid of insight.

10. Wynn Everett as Ellen Johnson, Teenage Bounty Hunters-The guidance counselor every high schooler wish they had. She’s the kind of side character that hints at a richer back story you’d want to see more episodes of.

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11. Jessie Buckley as Oraetta Maylower, Fargo-Every season of Fargo has an off-beat character who treats murder with the same gravity as watering their hydrangeas and that’s Oraetta Mayflower in a nutshell. Only this time, it’s baking pies.

12. Bette Middler as Haddasah Gold, The Politician-Hadassah manages to remain endearing (to the audience, at least) while remaining brash, unfiltered, and ruthless.

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13. Laura Haddock as Zoe, White Lines-The psychotropic paradise-set noir had a lead protagonist that was pushy, and sometimes foolish but never devoid of passion or charisma.

14. Jillian Bell voicing Violet Heart, Bless the Hearts-The deadpan goth daughter (think a more thoughtful version of Aubrey Plaza navigating high school) stepped into the spotlight quite a bit this season with episodes showing her having a wide range of emotions and puncturing a couple of holes through her veneer.

15. Matthew Berry as Jackie Daytona (AKA Laszlo Cravenworth), What We Do in the Shadows-The alter ego created by Laszlo in order to flee a duel is a high school volleyball coach and bartender who can hide his true form with a simple tooth pick. Few guises could be more ridiculous and few random character traits put together could be as surreptitiously funny.

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16. Kayla Cromer as Mathilda, Everything’s Gonna Be Ok-For the show’s tonally jarring mixture of serious and frivolous, it at least gets one thing right: The autistic character of Mathilda, who is far more vibrant than the typical mold of the disabled character we ordinarily get. Like any ambitious person, Mathilda wants to be more than what her condition defined her as: Sexual, popular, independent.

17. Dawnn Lewis voicing Becket Mariner, Star Trek: Lower Decks-The Star Trek canon would forever be incomplete if a character like Mariner didn’t eventually surface. It wouldn’t make sense that in this massive space fleet, a few iconoclasts or slackers wouldn’t pop up among the lower ranks. Luckily, Mariner is an apt mixture of both.

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18. Ben Whishaw as Rabbi Milligan, Fargo-For those who found the season’s opening montage confusing (though undeniably visually fantastic), Milligan was the son of an Irish mob boss who was forced as a pawn between the Irish and Jewish mobs to be raised by a Rabbi’s family. As a kid, he abetted his father in a slaughter of Kansas City’s Jewish mafia, then turned on his Irish family years later to secure a top lieutenantship in the incoming Italian mob. In the present, the Rabbi isn’t to be trusted but his instincts aren’t violent or malicious. He simply laments the imperfect hand of cards he’s been dealt with and tries to make do.

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19. Aya Cash as Stormfront (Kiara Risinger), The Boys-Every good superhero series needs a villain and while an argument can be made for putting a moratorium on the Nazis, I’m willing to excuse it with Stormfront for the shock value of the reveal alone. Raise your hand if you saw her origin story coming.

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20. Rob Riggle as himself, Holey Moley-This wacky sports competition that would be at home on the fictional TV station, “The Ocho”, as presented by the movie Dodgeball. Helping keep the surreal vibe alive of treating mini-golf as if it’s the world’s most intense sport is comedy vet Rob Riggle who commits fully to the bit while riffing so hard that his broadcasting partner, Joe Tessatore, can barely keep from breaking most of the time.

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21. Natasa Demetriu as Nadja, What We Do in the Shadows-Like her fellow vampires, Nadja has about as much empathy to humans as we mortals have towards farm hens that will eventually end up in a McDonald’s Happy Meal. Occasionally, she’ll humor them or entertain a centuries-long romantic fling, but don’t mess with her jewelery. With Demetriu’s vocal inflections, she really sells the “oh, what an adorable human” angle.

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22. Justin Kirk as Peter, Kidding-A very rich and nuanced portrayal of a step dad awkwardly trying to fit into a new family. A considerate guy, Peter treads the line in a rough relationship of exes. He tries to be both a supportive husband to a woman who wants space from her ex, and a genuine pillar of support to the severely scarred ex himself. And don’t forget his killer musical number.

23. Geraldine Viswanathan as Alexandra Shitshoveler, Miracle Workers-Imagine being the only sane man (or woman) in the Dark Ages of Europe capable of making the observation, “hey, maybe we’re not living in a good era of history.” Alexandra has ambitions in a time when the concept of ambition doesn’t exist and that’s a pretty solid character to base an ambitious comedy around.

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24. Kate Mara as Claire Wilson in A Teacher-Judging by the reviews and internet comments, not everyone was able to move past Claire’s sins to appreciate the complexity of the story being told about her situation. That’s a shame because if you make that leap of empathy, there’s an interesting portrait about the why and the how of someone who falls into a situation which would brand her with quite the scarlet letter.

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25. Jennifer Esposito as Brenda, Awkwafina is Nora From Queens-For a socially awkward single dad who’s best dating days are behind him, Brenda is the best you can hope for. She ricochets your lame dad jokes with some old spinster humor and accommodates your mid-life paralysis to see the prince within. Sweet, artsy, and eccentric, Brenda made a big impression with a small amount of screen time.

Honorable Mentions:

Amanda Peete as Jules James, Brockmire; Bowen Yang as Bao, the Chinese Trade Minister, SNL; Catherine Keener as Diedre Pickles, Kidding; Daniel Radcliffe as Prince Frederick, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; Elizabeth Berkley, Saved by the Bell; Hamza Haq as Bashir Hamed, Transplant; Heidi Gardner as Bailey Gismert, SNL; Jessica Rothe as Samantha, Utopia; Jessica St. Clair as Kelly, Space Force; Jessica Walters voicing Mallory Archer, Archer; Jimmy O Yang as Dr. Chan Keifang, Space Force; Julie Garner as Ruth Langamore in Ozark; Kate Mara as Claire Wilson in A Teacher; Lisa Kudrow as Hypathia, The Good Place; Maddie Phillips as Sterling Weasley, Teenage Bounty Counters; Mary Mack voicing Jesse, Solar Opposites; Mary Mouser as Sam LaRusso, Cobra Kai; Maya Rudolph voicing Betty Hart, Bless the Harts; Nicole Law as May, Tales from the Loop; Nuno Lopez as Boxer, White Lines; Patton Oswalt as Principal Durbin, AP Bio; Peyton List as Tori, Cobra Kai; Poorna Jagannathan as Nalini Vishwakumar, Never Have I Ever


Thursday, December 24, 2020

My Journey to Save North Carolina from the Democrats: Part III: Election Day

Click on the North Carolina Democrats tag for the other two parts of my story. I am going to Georgia next week and feel free to contact me here or on patreon to help fund that. The money will be going to pay lodging accomodations for people directly impacted by loss of income this year. 

Waking up on election day, the gravity wasn’t lost on me. It’s like the feeling you get watching the Olympics, knowing this special moment will only come every four years and that’s not nearly enough. As much as I desperately want the election to change America for the better, I recognize the unique excitement of seeing the map of our nation light up red and blue and learning our true colors.

There’s a bittersweetness to the election season ending, but it could get all bitter if it doesn’t go our way and Trump wins. It seems a remote possibility, but I’m optimistic. My understanding is that four times as many polls have been conducted and Nate Silver and his colleagues have accommodated for missing factors from 2016. Besides, I’m religious or spiritual or whatever enough to figure the Universe has to even out. Sometimes bad things happen for a reason, but what would be the benefit of four more years of Trump?

My mom called and predicted danger because of shy Trump supporters who don’t want to admit their loyalty in the polls. I can’t fathom such voluntary pessimism.

I still felt like I’ve gotten the hang of canvassing and wanted to do more with it, so I woke up early (for me, that’s around 9) and jumped ship. It was also one of the last opportunities I’d be able to use a car as well. On this particular canvassing trip, I was set to go to Hope Mills which was one hell of a rich suburb.

It was jarring to see such a change in wealth after spending time in the sticks the day before. This felt like films like Pleasantville, American Beauty or the TV show Weds.  What also came to mind was the fake town in the beginning of the 2008 Indiana Jones sequel that was nuked. The sameness of the houses almost felt plastic in its imagery.

Naturally, all but two people in this neighborhood weren't home because I assumed many of these people worked throughout the day. One of the households I went to was a man who said that he voted for Trump (I assumed many people in this neighborhood would vote that way). I inquired why this household was listed as that of a registered democrat and he said that was his wife who was off voting for Biden as we speak. I imagine these guys aren’t as split as Kelly Anne and George Conway but I found it to be a start.

I also went to an apartment complex that was a little poorer and saw a notice of a guy who’s ballot had to be cured. I knocked on his door immediately and he wasn't in. His sister answered the door and said Matthew was an hour away in Chapel Hill. I tried to stress the importance of getting his brother back to Fayetteville in the next seven and a half hours so he could revote or at least call the appropriate number.

As my time was running out, I tried to drop as much literature as I could (even to people) who didn’t have the address.

After a lunch at the waffle house (a special treat I reserve if I’m on a road trip), I turned the car in.

Throughout the entirety of this week, I was hoping I might network and make friends. I had chance encounters with strangers and talked to a few locals, and my Air B & B hosts were nice. Still, I thought maybe we’d at least be able to celebrate with a party while we watch the election results. I told Genna  this and she said we could at least chat online while watching the party.

Every other day, no one was available to help with a ride and I had to shoulder the cost of an Uber myself.  But on election day, there were at least half a dozen organizations to help people get to the polls. As a poll observer they were also willing to help me out, fortunately. Even if I wasn’t a poll worker, Uber did its patriotic part by offering free and discounted rides. The idea that election day happens on a weekday rather than a weekend has often been a critical point of US elections, but little companies can do their part.

I arrived at a fire station which was supposed to be my polling site. I’d done this twice already and prepared for something boring. I also assumed I would be outside so I came armed with snacks, warm clothes, and books.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the poll chief, Angela, let me stay indoors even though I wasn’t on a list (I was ineligible for inside observation as a non-county resident). There was another poll worker, Collette, who branded herself a “judge” and policed me about no-nos like eating at the polls. There was also a talkative African-American man who was trying to make pleasantries with people at the polls. The polling place has often been described as a watering hole and he was probably the person most responsible for that atmosphere. I tried to be friendly but I wanted to read a book.

What made things more interesting was that for the first time, I wasn’t the only poll observer on site. 

A Republican poll observer named Rick showed up on site and he seemed to know exactly what he was doing which was pretty helpful since I had no idea what a poll observer does. 

When there was a dispute, however, I once again had an idea what a poll watcher did. Rick observed that the democratic flyer distributor was forty feet from the polling site if you walked outside the perimeter of the building from the entrance way but not from the parking lot. This was an issue because handicapped (or sick) voters are allowed to cast their ballots in the parking lot making the parking lot a voting site of sorts. Additionally, there wasn’t much pathway for the flier distributors to not be a distraction to people walking to the polling place with a parking lot so small.

Playing devil’s advocate, I mentioned that it wasn’t our fault that no Republican flier distributors were on-site. Again I’ll be brutally honest about my shortcomings and tell you that I was mostly just trying to say something remotely intelligent so that he wouldn’t be unchecked. I assumed I was there for that. At the end they compromised and had the guy stand on a different part of the parking lot.

At the end of this dispute, I pointed out to Rick that this particular flier distributor appeared to not be particularly aggressive anyway. Like George and AJ on the first and second day, he was paid $100 a day by congressional candidate Patricia Timmons-Goodson to stand and pass out literature. Whereas George and AJ made an effort to engage the public, this guy mostly just hung out and planned out fantasy football with a nearby friend (a whole other debate could be had over what to do with legality of the friend). This mutual point of agreement about his lethargy set off a friendlier conversation

In Rick’s efforts to make polite conversation, he asked me where I was from. Rather than say I was all about wanting to defeat the evil Republicans (which is true), I said that I wanted to explore a new place and have an adventure. He even agreed to give me a ride downtown if I wanted to watch the results near headquarters (I imagined some people would be congregating there).

Another friendly dispute between me and Rick was when a certain voter backed out of voting because he wasn’t well-educated. I tried to at least guide him to research the options because I assumed a well-researched voter would probably veer towards Biden and other Democrats. He didn’t hear the conversation but told me I wasn’t allowed to talk to the voters at all, in a sort of “by the way” fashion.

Before the election was over, Indiana and Kentucky started reporting results on the TV in the fire house lodge. I popped over and asked who the two Fayetteville firefighters on site were rooting for and they said they had an ironclad rule not to discuss politics. The thrill and fear of the map meant that I knew I’d be addicted for the rest of the night.

Then things got worse in every conceivable way. The Fayetteville fire station chief came in and said that the lounge was closed off to civilians and that I can only watch the results through the door and things started looking bad for us. Meanwhile, Rick ditched me for reasons I didn’t know.

A second member among the crew of poll workers, Miles, stepped up to volunteer to give me a ride but Collette, the overbearing judge who wasn’t in charge, forbade it. Collette likes to ruin the party.

As I checked on the phone, Florida and Georgia oscillated. It was the first blow of the night. After 90 minutes I was increasingly hungry, irritated at Rick for ditching me, and annoyed at the gap of information. Finally, the election precinct completed their results and the talkative poll worker gave me a lift to a local Buffalo Wild Wings.

Buffalo Wild Wings was full of TVs and customers but they were missing one thing: A television showing the election results. I understood the need for escape all too well. When I visit my parents, they watch too much news and I often want to turn it off because why expose yourself to painful news you usually can’t do much about? But not this night. My twitter feed was looking a little downcast but I had hope.

I asked the manager to switch TV stations and when that didn’t work, I made a dash across the street. I had hope and went to a bar across the street. The staff at this other restaurant was extremely pleasant and asked how I was doing it and, seeing that we were about to lose Florida, I replied “well, it’s the end of the world.” As I was looking at the results while eating a meal, I lost the sense of adventure of this trip. I woke up this morning thinking the worst possibility was that I might watch the results alone. Now, the stakes have suddenly become much more real.

I texted Genna and said I couldn’t fathom such an outcome. She said the country would be ok one way or another but I wasn’t really sure and I couldn’t fathom a bright side. It was fight-or-flight. 

I looked at the experts but for a while things looked bleak. Two of the handful of diners present were  Trump supporters. One was a bit of a crazy lady who seemed to process everything Fox News gave her without a filter. 

The second was a demure man with a mustache who looked like a shorter version of Will Ferrell’s character in Talladega Nights, and seemed pretty reasonable despite being a Trump voter. He said that he liked to vote for the economy. I really couldn’t muster much emotion except fight-or-flight but this guy gave me enough pause. I could sort of get him for a couple moments. I decided that in a sort of karmic way I would wish him a good night as well as Crazy Trump Lady. 

I resolved to make like the Buffalo Wild Wings crowd and go home and watch something non-political. But to make matters worse, Uber was surging like there was no tomorrow. I got a cab ride home and the driver gave me crap over not having a credit card. Back in my hometown, cab drivers used to pull this trick because they didn’t want to take the 6% cut. To combat this, I told cabbies that if they wanted a tip they’d have to take credit card. This jerk felt he was entitled to choose mode of payment and gripe about a tip. I started to feel like, screw Trump, this guy was enemy #1. Yes, I was in massive fight-or-flight on this dystopic night but I’ve endured dishonest cabbies for years and this guy sucked. When I went to get my cash from upstairs, I told the driver he should take credit card but when I realized the fare would come out to $13 change off $20, I gave him an extra dollar. I’m superstitious and thirteen is an unlucky number. I gave him $12 and explained to him my superstition because Biden would need all the help he could get.

I decided that my best chance was to simply take my mind off the results and pray. I watched some “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” to steer my mind as far in the opposite direction of politics as I could. I didn’t check the results before going to bed.  

The country was falling apart but there was only so much I could do.

Monday, December 21, 2020

30 Best Post-SNL Careers



Please chime in with your own picks or tell me where I've gone wrong.
Four rules:
-Rob Downey Jr is eliminated unless you count Tropic Thunder and Al Franken and Dennis Miller who did more politics than comedy are eliminated
-Anyone who's only been gone from SNL 3 or 4 years doesn't count yet (Taran Killam) but also the ppl who died young like Belushi, Farley and Hartman. A lot of those 3 legends would be conjecture
-Not just acting, but producing, hosting, directing, stand-up, podcasting, etc
-What's being judged is after you left SNL

In parenthesis is the last year they were in the cast

1. Will Ferrell (2002)-Ferrell stood out for his intensity and machismo out of the gate on SNL but he has shown a wide range that has translated well to a wide variety of movies including dramedies like Stranger than Fiction and Elf; and he has been very successful at the box office. He also has his own production company as the co-founder of Funny or Die and has found a directorial partner in Adam McKay. 
2. Adam Sandler (1995)-Love him or hate him, he is a tremendously dependable force at the box office, and has creative control with Happy Madison productions, in addition to projects with James L Brooks, Judd Apatow, Safdie Brothers, Paul T Anderson that have allowed him to shine
3. Bill Murray (1980)-He's been in many iconic films, and has been a commercial success for a long time, his brand of comedy has aged well as has his perosnality, has a highly respected status in the era stretching from Lost in Translation to Broken Blossoms to Life Aquatic,
4. Eddie Murphy (1984)-His heyday was mostly in the 80s, but he has a great and groundbreaking following in films and stand-up. Comebacks in Dreamgirls and his latest stand-up special in his SNL hosting, his 2019 stand-up specials and Dolemite is My Name show there's a large iconic status to him
5. Tina Fey (2006)-Her status is more on the writing end than the performing end for her 3 mega-successful TV shows that led to an updating of comedy and her film Mean Girls. She also has had a sizable presence as a movie lead
6. Ben Stiller (1989)-His movies might be on the safe side and less game-changing than say Christopher Guest or Mike Meyers, he's been successful as a film maker, writer, and actor and has created many films worthy of sequels and been part of cult films like Mystery Men, Zoolander, and more. Night at the Museum and Meet the Parents both led to sequels.
7. Chris Rock (1993)-It can be fairly easily argued that he is the most successful stand-up performer to emerge from the show. Even if you count Top 5 as a successful personal statement (though not commercially successful), he never translated it into moviedom
8. Mike Myers (1995)-If you sound the RIP to his film career around 2008 with Love Guru, that's still a 14 year run of being at or near the top with film franchises Wayne's World and Austin Powers as well as Cat in the Hat, Shrek, etc
9. Julia Louis-Dreyfus (1985)-Two mega-successful sitcoms bookended by the semi-successful (and Emmy winning) New Adventures of Old Christine
10. Martin Short (1985)-One of the most daring and iconic comedians in all varieties
11. Sara Silverman (1994)-She's hosting talk shows, her voice acting career is stellar, she's acted, she's had her eponymous sitcom, but she's also a big brand as a stand-up
12. Kristen Wiig (2012)-Her acting filmography has been both prolific and impressive. She's worked alongside Anette Benning, Cate Blanchett, Dianne Keaton, Matt Damon, and Robert DeNiro and has done plenty of indie films like The Skeleton Twins and Girl Most Likely in addition to bigger works like Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Downsizing, Wonder Woman and the Martian.
13. Amy Poehler (2008)-As an actor, she created an iconic figure in Parks and Recreation's Leslie Knope and has been moderately successful in some of her movies like Sisters and The House, but there's so much more including her work for the UCB theater (Founding the NYC branch was pre-SNL) which fostered so much talent, and how she produced Broad City, Russian Doll and Duncanville.
14. Billy Crystal (1985)-Though his Borscht belt humor isn't for everyone, he's been able to make his passion projects like City Slickers, Mr Saturday Night, and Analyze This with creative control. He's also hosted the Oscars probably more than anyone. He's less prolific from 2002 onwards.
15. Christopher Guest (1985)-Though he's a little less well-known as an actor outside of Princess Bride, but he took This is Spinal Tap and created an entire brand of comedy with four more mockumentary movies. He also does the occasional acting gig like Night at the Museum and Mrs Henderson Presents.
16. Seth Meyers (2014)-In my opinion he's become the voice of a generation since Jon Stewart stepped down and Stephen Colbert became a regular talk show. He's also produced Documentary Now and AP Bio as well as his own animated show The Awesomes (admittedly middling)
17. Chevy Chase (1976)-The show's first alumnus, he was active in a number of hits in the 70s and 80s. Other than Community, of which he didn't do particularly well on, he's faded quite a bit.
18. Fred Armisen (2013)-Highly prolific as a guest star and makes tons of movie appearances. He has co-created three TV shows to date-Los Espookeys, Documentary Now, Portlandia-and had recurring guest roles in Looney Tunes and Difficult People
19. David Spade (1996)-Isn't really a movie headliner (his big hits were alongside Chris Farley or Adam Snadler) but has been successful as a stand-up, TV host, and most importantly, he has had supporting roles in Just Shoot Me, 8 Simple Rules and Rules of Engagement that made those shows infinitely better.
20. Andy Samberg (2012)-His brand of humor has done well for this era as he has headlined Brooklyn Nine Nine, headlined projects with Lonely Island (a comedy music career if you will), and ventured into more serious stuff like Celeste and Jesse Forever and a mental patient in Brigsby Bear (Kyle Mooney's project was comic but Samberg's role was serious)
21. Bill Hader (2013)-Been extremely active as an actor in many projects, having prominent roles in Inside Out and the Skeleton Twins and popping up everywhere else. Barry has been extremely successful.
22. Maya Rudolph (2008)-As strong an actress as Poehler and Wiig, she's mostly just been acting rather than doing more but she's shown a wide range.
23. Laurie Metcalf (1981)-She only lasted one episode on the cast of the show though it was meant to be more before the writer's strike of 1981 took hole. She has an Oscar nomination, a prolific actress with two Tonys and she has won Emmys for Roseanne
24. Dan Aykroyd (1979)-He's been a durable supporting player more than anything else but he's done well for himself by those means.
25. Joan Cusack (1986)-She's earned two Oscar nominations, iconic in supporting roles like School of Rock, and been in some rather off-the-beaten path comedies like Friends with Money, Perks of Being a Wallflower, High Fidelity, Mars Needs Moms, etc
26. Jimmy Fallon (2004)-I'm not a fan but he does have the Tonight Show and will be the gateway to pop culture for the foreseeable future
27. Rob Riggle (2005)-He's been a daily show correspondent, a reliable guest actor, and has a brand. He's known for his manic energy
28. Damon Wayans (1986)-In Living Color was humongous and he's been steadily on two sitcoms. Plus he headlined a Spike Lee movie
29. Molly Shannon (2001)-It's not entirely her fault. She didn't have the network of Fey-Poehler-Dratch-Rudolph-Wiig alongside her when she graduated that would have given her better female parts. She's done quite well and even had her own NBC sitcom for a season (Kath and Kim).
30. Jason Sudeikis (2013)-He's been the lead or co-lead of movies (We're the Millers, Colossal, Horrible Bosses) and is a reliable masculine lead (think Sam Malone in Cheers) for many parts