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Jason Sudeikis' Ten Best SNL Recurring Characters

From Joe Biden to the Devil to a dancing fool and beyond.
  • Photos: NBC
    Photos: NBC

    It's hard to imagine a more triumphant return to one's old stomping grounds than the one Jason Sudeikis will enjoy when he returns to Saturday Night Live as a first-time host this weekend. A cast member from 2004-2013, Sudeikis left the show to pursue his own projects, and with his Ted Lasso a triumph the likes of which no one predicted, he's riding back into town as the king of TV comedy mountain. So what better time to celebrate his nine seasons on the show and the great recurring characters he played? These ten characters are a big reason why he's remembered as one of the very best cast members of his generation.

    Joe Biden

    It says a lot about how far Joe Biden has come in Presidential politics over the last 15 years that when Sudeikis first portrayed him on SNL, it was in a sketch about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (who cameoed as himself), with Biden and Chris Dodd (Bill Hader) in tandem Spongebob costumes. It would be the first of more than two dozen sketches where Sudeikis would play the senator-turned-Veep. His take on Biden was never all that hook-y, but his version of the back-slapping, Amtrak-riding, gaffe-prone uncle type helped to define the man who is now president. There's no better testament to the stamp Sudeikis put on Biden than watching how SNL flailed to find someone to take over the impersonation in 2020.

    The Devil

    In a handful of appearances on Weekend Update, Jason Sudeikis's version of the devil — decked out in a cartoonishly obvious costume of a red suit, cape, and horns — would show up to comment on some horrible news story or another and prove to be aghast at how awful people could be. Once again, his devil was chummy, affable, and downright jolly, and whether it was the Penn State molestation scandal or Osama Bin Laden, he commented on it with jovial good humor.

    One A-Hole

    On the one hand, Sudeikis's white-bread good looks made him perfect to play the brand of charming doofuses he did with Biden and the devil (and Ted Lasso, to be honest). On the other hand, he could also put them in service of playing just an absolute jackass jerk, as he did in his Two A-Holes sketches with Kristen Wiig. The two played a rude, distracted, stupid, entitled, gum-smacking, phone-scrolling couple who took even the most basic of tasks and turned them into an excuse to terrorize poor servicepeople and bystanders with their awfulness. For anybody who's ever stood in line with the worst people in the world, the Two A-Holes were confirmation that you were not alone.

    Jon Bovi

    You read that right: Jon Bovi. Jason Sudeikis and Will Forte played the titular music duo on a handful of Weekend Update appearances. They weren't exactly a Bon Jovi tribute band; they were a Bon Jovi opposite band, whose every performance was the exact opposite of a hit Bon Jovi song ("Dyin' on a Prayer"; "Unwanted: Alive and Dead"). Stupid? Yes, deeply. But that was the Forte/Sudeikis brand, and the two served it up with an infectious energy.

    Pete Twinkle

    Speaking of the Sudeikis/Forte team, this may have been their crowning achievement. Pete Twinkle and Greg Stink are a pair of sports broadcasters on ESPN re-airings of old ladies sports events. Stink is mostly a simple, emptyheaded man, but Twinkle is the one doing the lion's share of commentating … and advertising for the various feminine products that sponsor the events. The sheer enthusiasm that Sudeikis puts into the most questionably phrased ad copy about maxi pads or vaginal cream never fails to deliver.

    Vance, the Backup Dancer on "What Up with That?"

    He doesn't even get a name, but the character Sudeikis played in the "What Up with That?" sketches never failed to absolutely delight. Every time host Diondre Cole breaks back into song, in jumps Sudeikis in his red track suit and curly wig to wordlessly dance the running man with the most overjoyed expression on his face. That's it. That's the character. And he never fails to pull focus from whatever else is going on because a) wow that's a lot of dancing for one sketch, and b) he looks like he's having the most fun anyone has ever had.

    Judge Marshall T. Boudreaux

    "Maine Justice" was weird, man. But of course that was the whole point. A courtroom show called "Maine Justice" that's populated with every down-on-the-swamp Louisiana caricature you can imagine — that's the joke. And the joke doesn't work without Sudeikis sporting the thickest, hackiest cajun accent you ever did hear. Sometimes it seemed that the whole point of the sketch was for Sudeikis to be so ridiculous that his co-stars would have no choice but to break. And break they did.

    Officer Sikorsky

    Speaking of sketches designed to get co-stars to break, the "Scared Straight" sketches were mostly an excuse for Kenan Thompson to go off as an aggressive prisoner trying to scare shitty teens into behaving by describing his horrible life experiences that also turned out to be the plots of famous movies. Sudeikis was the straight man in these sketches as the police officer tasked with keeping the peace, and while Thompson was the MVP of those sketches, Sudekis let him bounce off his placid facade perfectly.

    Mitt Romney

    It's a less well-known impersonation than his Biden, and it's somehow even more of an empty, smiling suit, but Sudeikis's Mitt Romney played opposite Jay Pharoah's Barack Obama throughout the 2012 election sketches, anchoring those debate sketches that were central to the show's place in the culture during that fall. His Romney was … white and boring, pretty much. But that was the assignment.

    Jack Rizzoli

    Sometimes playing the straight man in a sketch opposite one of the funniest people on the planet was the assignment too, and that was the case of the WXPD News sketches, where Sudeikis played studio anchor Jack Rizzoli opposite Bill Hader's ornery old Herb Welch. Rizzoli is mostly there to absorb Welch's abuse and try to push him towards retirement, but while Hader gets the biggest laughs, Sudeikis is a rock-solid foundation for him to jump off from.

    Jason Sudeikis returns to NBC's Saturday Night Live this Saturday, October 23 at 11:30 PM ET (8:30 PM PT)

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    Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.

    TOPICS: Jason Sudeikis, Saturday Night Live, Ted Lasso, Joe Biden, Mitt Romney