Saturday Night Live is the longest-running sketch comedy in American history and has been entertaining countless viewers for close to 50 years. It’s not only an amazing opportunity for those who contribute to the show, but also an incredible showcase of the hottest talent in music, film, and television with their famous guest hosts. But one of the most iconic sketches in SNL has been the Weekend Update, or the “fake news” jokingly relayed by various anchors and guests through the years. It takes a special blend of poise and wit to deliver this memorably, but the best SNL Weekend Update anchors took their tenure to heart, leaving an indelible mark on the show.
The Best SNL Weekend Update Anchors, Ranked from Worst to Best
Some Weekend Update anchors had significantly longer times in the chair while others left a great impression but left or were made to leave for numerous reasons. Many of the best names to grace this sketch have gone on to become legends in comedy, stars, talk-show hosts, and more. But the best of the best stand out from the crowd, as listed below:
12. Jimmy Fallon — SNL Weekend Update Anchors Ranked
Jimmy Fallon is an entertaining person to watch, demonstrated by his tenure and popularity as a late-night talk show host. His biggest downfall during his time on the show, as was noted by viewers, was his frequent breaking of character. While this can prompt laughs by itself, it leaves him vulnerable in a position where he’s supposed to be in control such as when relaying comedic news.
11. Colin Jost
Colin Jost is a long-serving Weekend Update anchor and has been since 2014. He’s consistently funny, dishes out the laughs with great delivery, and can take on some great interactions alongside the people with whom he shares the desk. He can sometimes crack up at the desk but it doesn’t take viewers out of it too often, and he has earned his long run in the segment.
10. Charles Rocket
The Rocket Report as it was known during Charles Rocket’s time was entertaining and interesting in how he was an actual news anchor before this role. Rocket didn’t need a captive audience to know people would laugh at his bit, often narrating his segment into the microphone and not being afraid to push the envelope. However, this would be his downfall, along with resentment of other stars in the SNL cast including Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo. The entertainer is sadly no longer with us, but his legacy remains.
9. Chevy Chase
Chevy Chase is an interesting topic because he essentially set the bar for anchors, being the first star of the segment. He had a way of drawing the viewer in with exceptional delivery, even if some of his jokes wouldn’t land in the present, something of a running topic about Chase. But he would engage the audience by looking straight at them, setting up a joke, and leaving you hanging, yet inexplicably laughing with his misleads.
8. Seth Meyers
A charismatic anchor with a twinkle in his eye, Meyers laid a strong foundation for his future as the Late Night host. Whether he’s in character with his upbeat delivery or interviewing his guests in his present career, Meyers is one of the most likable entries on this list. His energy was felt with each punchline during his time as Weekend Update anchor.
7. Michael Che
The current anchor of Weekend Update along with Jost, Michael Che is exceptionally funny. His stream-of-consciousness style in his stand-up act is amusing and shines through his delivery as an anchor. But some of the most humorous work he does is when he and Jost trade jokes they write for each other. In these moments is some brilliant, incisive humor with the idea of having somebody blindly read the jokes you write for them. And Che? He’s in control the whole time.
6. Amy Poehler
It’s amazing just how much incredible NBC talent emerges from this show. Whether you’re a fan of Parks and Rec, her many collaborations with Tina Fey, or her irrevocable status as a “cool mom” in Mean Girls, every fan should take in just how fun she was on SNL. Poehler could play extremely well off anybody she worked with as an anchor, had steady, energetic delivery, and most importantly, she was just consistently funny. It’s everything you could need.
5. Jane Curtin
So much of Jane Curtin’s time on Weekend Update confirms the legacy of any anchors to follow, along with iconic phrases and moments to go with it. The phrase “Jane, you ignorant slut” spoken by fellow Update star Dan Aykroyd (heard he was in some stuff, but he also sells a lot of vodka) has gone into the books as one of the funniest moments on the segment. You see moments like these shine through in modern sitcoms like The Office, with Michael quoting these acts to the point of viewers not even realizing.
4. Dennis Miller
Dennis Miller was an interesting case, a famously verbose standout among the Weekend Update anchor who certainly took his fair share of political stances. It’s also interesting seeing how his mannerisms onscreen would be distinctive enough to be parodied to great effect, yet he would look upon it, laugh, and continue his act. Some viewers might have trouble keeping up, but if you take notes, you’ll find he’s one of the funniest of them all.
3. Tina Fey
One of the funniest people working in media, Tina Fey is beloved for her many acts on SNL, not the least of which is one of the best Weekend Update anchors. She worked well with her fellow cast, had iconic sketches and parodies including a hilarious Sarah Palin impersonation, and carried with her all of her experience into numerous other projects. 30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Mean Girls all were the result of her work. 30 Rock shows a clear and hilarious glimpse into how you can successfully parody a series that is in itself largely parody.
2. Kevin Nealon
An extremely underrated Weekend Update anchor, Nealon was hilarious. His rapid-fire delivery was second to none, sending the audience into roaring laughter with tiny Mr. Subliminal punchlines. He didn’t even have to be delivering the news, the viewers didn’t care, and he’d often be joined by Adam Sandler in his act in countless memorable moments.
1. Norm Macdonald
Norm Macdonald was taken from us too soon. His jokes would take you for a ride, many of which were the Shaggy Dog jokes he would become famous for. His delivery had a humble, folksy Canadian charm, and he was perfectly frank about being the host of the fake news. He had a savage wit. He would not stop pushing the envelope, even to the end where he lost his job after insisting a particular celebrity was guilty of murder, even if the audience would boo him. His non-sequiturs would intentionally bring his stories to a screeching halt only for the viewers to burst out laughing.
The man knew how to work the audience, and even when his jokes didn’t land, he knew everyone loved him. Norm Macdonald left a hell of an empty seat when he left SNL, and his legacy is beloved. May he rest in peace.
Saturday Night Live has been on the air since the mid-70s and continues to be eternally culturally relevant, with Weekend Update anchors to reflect this in the best of its years. It’s the best segment of the NBC staple, and its stars have gone on to leave incredible marks on the industry, so their work should be celebrated for their diverse contributions.
- This article was updated on February 13th, 2023