Kristen Wiig is seriously annoying

Can’t the new female star of ‘Saturday Night Live’ come up with a likeable character or two?

Kristen Wiig is seriously annoying

Photographs by Dana Edelson/NBC

Have you seen the Saturday Night Live sketch where Kristen Wiig plays a horrible person who gets on our nerves? Oh, wait, that’s all of them. Since Tina Fey and Amy Poehler left to do sitcoms, and SNL fired two of its other female comedians, Wiig has become the unchallenged leading lady of the show, carrying many sketches in every episode. She’s also building a movie career, which includes several Judd Apatow films and a supporting part in the new SNL spinoff film MacGruber (opening May 21). But she hasn’t created many characters who are likeably funny, like Will Forte’s MacGruber or Bill Hader’s Italian talk-show host. Instead, Wiig specializes in playing people who are absurdly unpleasant to be around, like a Target clerk who irritates customers by pumping her hands in the air and screaming things like “you’re buying a big bag of feces!” Not everyone would go as far as David Medsker at premiumhollywood.com, who wrote earlier this season that Wiig has “become wildly unfunny, and must be stopped.” But given enough horrible characters, they might.

Like most comedians, Wiig wants to have a lot of range; she told Vanity Fair she doesn’t have a style of comedy because “I’m always trying to change it. I don’t always just want to do the same thing.” But not only does she manage to use some of the same physical mannerisms in most sketches—tilting her head a lot—she seems to make most characters equally hateful. Among Wiig’s recurring sketches, the definitive one may be her impersonation of Kathie Lee Gifford, co-host of the fourth hour of the Today Show, whom she portrays as a talentless drunk with a penchant for bad jokes and shameless mugging. Judging from Gifford’s reaction—“Everyone seems to enjoy it,” she said on Today, “but I don’t think it’s that funny”—the sketch hit its mark. But it’s completely malicious comedy; even Tina Fey made Sarah Palin a more sympathetic character, with her cheerful, almost innocent stupidity. Wiig seems to want her audience to feel pain at even watching her characters in action.

That’s because Wiig usually plays what Charlie Toft at film.com called “variations on the same character: a neurotic who is either overly talkative and/or inappropriately exuberant,” and who is sheer hell to be around. Take Penelope, a fast-talking woman who is always trying to one-up other people—she arrives at a wedding and says that on her honeymoon, “we went to the moon! Actually, it’s made of honey!” Wiig plays her as a borderline insane person who, in the words of another character, is “ruining” life for everyone else. Another Wiig character who ruins everything is Gilly, a frizzy-haired little girl who commits arson and murder and smirks about it. Then there’s the Lawrence Welk Show parody sketch she co-wrote, where a female singing group is wrecked by one member: a woman with deformed hands who won’t stop singing lyrics about how she ate a dead cat or put a squirrel in her bed. That member, of course, is played by Wiig. Her characters are always out to make things rotten for the rest of us.

Still, however nasty Wiig’s sketches can be, at least they’re relatable: these evil characters mostly seem like people we’ve known in real life. The Target Lady, a character Wiig created before she joined SNL, is the loud-mouthed retailer who keeps you waiting in line. Even Penelope, Wiig told Women’s Health Magazine, is based on real people she knew who tried to one-up her: “I’d say I was going to get a massage and they’d say, ‘Oh, I’m getting a massage this week.’ ” Viewers might like Wiig because she uses comedy to take down the people we already know and hate; she’s like a sketch comedy counterpart to TV characters like Michael Scott on The Office.

But obnoxious characters, even true-to-life ones, are easier to take in small doses. After Wiig was chosen to host SNL’s Christmas special in character as the unspeakably awful Gilly, there were murmurs of online revolt against her overexposure, and earlier this season, in a list of ways to fix the show, Entertainment Weekly argued that Wiig needs to appear less often: “How can we appreciate the woman if she never leaves the screen?” Even the writer of a Wiig fan blog (kristen-wiig.blogspot.com) admitted she was doing too many solo sketches and that the producers “need to mix it up more.” If they don’t—or if Wiig doesn’t come up with a likeable character or two—there may be more people echoing the sage words of Kathie Lee Gifford: “Can’t she get another job? Go off and do something else?”

Kristen Wiig is seriously annoying

  1. I cannot stand her. There is nothing funny about her characters.

  2. Amen. She's brutal!

  3. I can't stand her "comedy"!

  4. Don't know anything about her, but that's because SNL stopped being funny when Will Ferrell left.

    • …and that's really something to say considering Will Ferrell is about as funny as a hemorrhoid on a bicycle trip.

  5. She's a channel-turner. Thank heavens for PVR

  6. I for one, love everything she does. I've always thoujght her characters showed great variation and what an extraordinary mimic.

  7. she's funny; people are weird
    what is life?

  8. Is SNL still on?

  9. When did "likable" become a such a weighty characteristic in comedy? Yes, "Kristen Wiig is seriously annoying" – but it's HILARIOUS!

    • Exactly! I don't think that any of Amy Poehler's characters were particularly "likable". All were pretty much as obnoxious/socially inept as Wiig's characters. Same can be said for most of the characters on SNL. There are very few that you would term as "likable". As for her impression of Kathie Lee Gifford – if you've seen Kathie Lee Gifford in action, then you know that Kristen plays her exactly how she is. KLG simply isn't a likable or sympathetic person, is a complete ham and does tear down her co-host Hoda Kotb from time to time.

      Maybe you should criticise the writers who put her in sketches and not Kristen herself. This seems like an article written just to tear someone down as they are beginning to hit the big time.

  10. What do any of you douchebags know about comedy? Seriously. These postings are hillarious.

  11. Kristin Wiig is one of the funniest people ever to be on SNL.
    Nothing annoying about her at all.

  12. With all due respect to the author, I have never read such a load of hogwash. Kristen Wiig is, to my mind, one of the most gifted mimics and sketch comedians in the modern history of the genre. She commits fully to every character and scene she plays, no matter how absurd or "unlikeable" they may be. The best comedy, after all, is not about being "likeable": it is, in essence, tragedy plus some additional element, be it time or distance or absurdity. To watch Kristen Wiig ride the time-space-absurdity continuum on SNL is to take a master class in funny.

    • I love just about every character she plays. The Lawrence Welk character "Doonese" had me unable
      to breath and almost pissing myself with laughter. But your point about over exposure has some validity.
      Even my favorite song played too much on the radio would become annoying eventually. So maybe they
      could scale her back a little. But this past weekend she was only in one sketch (Aunt Linda on Update)
      and that was definitely not enough.

    • Couldn't agree more!

  13. Honestly, i watch SNL for Kristen Wiig.

  14. wtf kristen wiig is sexy as hell, and the funniest person on snl. suck it canada!

  15. i cant stand this woman!! i just get so mad whenever she comes on because i keep forgetting shes on the show.

  16. My God, finally! Someone has seen through the Emperor's New Clothes Syndrome going on at SNL with her. How can anyone find this woman amusing? Seriously, does she have compromising photos of Lorne Michaels? How did she even get on the show in the first place?
    Thank you, Jaime, for questioning what has been, so far, a truly head-scratching level of success for someone so gratingly one-note.

    • Clearly you have no sense of what a good comedian is, nor a good sense of humour.

  17. I hadn't watched SNL for years (well, not other than to see the genius of Tina Fey) but tuned in accidently to catch Wiig's Little Hands character–thought I was going to pee my pants I laughed so hard . . . I'm laughing right now just thinking about it! AND–I'm watching SNL again.

  18. lame ass's just proves you take life to serious

  19. It's a real shame that a comedian as talented as Kristen Wiig has been scrutinized in this way. What difference does it make that none of her characters are "likeable"? I beg to differ on that argument by saying that her approach to comedy and her delivery to an audience make her likeable so much that she has free reign to be whatever character she wants to on SNL because audiences LOVE her. Even if some of her "neurotic" characters have similar physical tendencies, she can only do so many impressions, and MANY previous SNL stars have had common characteristics across the characters they play as well. Will Ferrel took these commonalities through so many of his movie characters and audiences still loved him. Also, she is written INTO the scenes that she acts in on the show. SNL has writers, and so they obviously see something in her characters that brings something to the show. Her string of "unformidable" characters are the reason that I am laughing more at the show than I have in a long time. You have authority on a lot of issues, Macleans, but entertainment and comedy clearly isn't one of them. Kristen Wiig is amazing.

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