Can't Kate McKinnon just be the one and only Kate McKinnon?

I love covering awesome comedians. I happen to have a soft spot for the lady ones since I have attempted to be a lady comedian myself. But you know what really gets my knickers in a twist? (And it's certainly not reserved for just women.) Calling someone the next "someone else." Today, the NY Post put up a very flattering piece about Saturday Night Live's newest female cast member, Kate McKinnon. And this is great! I love that she's getting positive press, and I'm not knocking the Post for giving the girl the props she deserves. But why do we have to call her "the next Kristen Wiig" when "Kate McKinnon" is awesome in her own right? We already have a Kristen Wiig, and she's great. But she makes movies now, so let's move on and let McKinnon be McKinnon.

Don't get me wrong, I know everyone means well in their comparison. Wiig was an amazing character actress. So is McKinnon, who performed her delightfully weird brand of character work on New York City stages as well as on Logo's The Big Gay Sketch Show before she was cast on SNL. But despite both being ladies who are good at turning themselves into a variety of crazy characters, I just don't think it's necessary to compare them. It's great to acknowledge that Wiig's departure will not be leaving a huge void in the cast; this was never a problem even with Abby Elliott leaving, considering that Nasim Pedrad and Vanessa Bayer are also sticking around, and they're also wonderful. And yes, Wiig will be missed, as was Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, and Tina Fey. But now, we have Kate McKinnon, and that's a very excellent thing.

It's a big universe, kids. There is plenty of room for more than one star.


  1. Probably because Kristen Wiig is leaving.

    That’s not a great reason, but you know, marketing and buzz. The need to get a point across that fits on a bumper sticker. I agree with you, though.

  2. It’s also context. You could just say “there’s this person coming up and she’s great” but it doesn’t really give you any idea what that means. “Great” is vague. What spot do the  fill? What’s their style? If I like __, will I like her?

    Even Woody Allen was once introduced as  “the young Larry Gelbart” (to which Gelbart responded, “the young Larry Gelbart” is right here).

  3. “Kate McKinnon is the new Kristen Wiig”
    That’s so sad.  I didn’t realize that Kristen Wiig had died.  How did it happen?

    1. Still trying to parse the purpose of this posting, but this comment is as close to nailing it as one can. Notroversial fluff piece.

  4. I get it, but I think it’s more of a context kind of thing.

    When I got my job, I was often “the new Adam” instead of just Kai. It lets people connect dots quicker. 

    I don’t think it’s really anything with an ulterior motive or even to downplay a person, but simply an easier way to integrate a person to an already-built idea/environment/system before said person establishes an even stronger ground.

  5. I forget, was Kristen Wiig the next Molly Shannon?

    I haven’t watched SNL in years, but over the decades I think unfortunately they’ve ESPECIALLY treated their female and minority cast members as interchangeable cogs.  I remember reading an interview with Jon Lovitz a couple of years back about how they gave his spot to Adam Sandler and he took him aside one night and gave him some advice about what he was about to deal with as the only Jew in the cast.  Chris Rock, similarly, has talked about how the show didn’t seem to know what to do with three different black guys in the cast, except to start cutting their sketches any time Mike Myers came up with something last-minute.

    1. Yeah, when Chris Rock (along with Chris Farley) joined the SNL cast, someone at the press conference announcing them asked if he was going to be the new Eddie Murphy, and Rock asked sarcastically, “What, did Eddie die?” (Unfortunately, Farley did try to be as much like John Belushi as possible, and succeeded rather too well in the manner of his death.) 

  6. Kristen Wiig has her moments of hilarity, but they are far outweighed by unfunny, obnoxious and repetitive gags. (The ‘Just Kidding’ character from hell for instance.) Although it’s early to tell, I think I’m going to enjoy Ms. McKinnon much more. She seems to have a bit of wild-eyed comedy insanity reminiscent of Andy Kaufman and Jack Black. And, to top it off, she’s quite breathtaking. She’s going to do just fine at SNL.

    1. Agreed. Wiig was like powerful garlic, good in small doses, and not good when featured in every sketch of the night.

  7. This really is a senseless thread.  No one knows who Kate McKinnon is.  That’s why she’s being compared to a known quantity.  In two to five years, if she is worthy, she’ll be the measurement against which others are compared.  (Or, she’ll just be a Siobhan Fallon.)

  8. I certainly get the complaint. The whole “X is the new Y” thing is a tired cliche. But asking why it’s necessary to use comparisons to describe a person is more than a little silly. It’s pretty damn hard to write a useful article introducing an actress/comedian/businessperson/athlete to the world without using some comparisons to their peers. You could say “this lady’s from Baltimore and she’s really funny,” or “she has this one joke where…” and “she has brown hair,” but that’s all next to useless without any context.

    She doesn’t exist in a vacuum. She works in show business – she likely took inspiration from some people, gave inspiration to others, shares comedic styles with some people. That provides more useful information. And comparisons to more accomplished peers are compliments.

    Writing an article about Eli Manning that simply says “What a great quarterback and a nice guy!” but doesn’t compare him to a single other quarterback might make you feel fuzzy, but it would be pretty silly and uninformative. Context is key to journalism.

  9. The very first skit I saw Kate McKinnon do was the one where she played Penelope Cruz filming a commercial with Sofia Vergara. She got all the hard lines while Vergara got the easy ones. It was hilarious. I liked her from the start. She’ll do great.

    1.  Agreed. Couldn’t keep my food in my mouth watching that skit.

      Too bad it seemed like the only exposure she got all season.

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