Saturday Night Live’s Heidi Gardner breaks down her best characters

Heidi Gardner (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for 2019 Nantucket Film Festival )
Heidi Gardner (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for 2019 Nantucket Film Festival ) /

Heidi Gardner told Conan O’Brien the inspiration behind two of her best Saturday Night Live characters

Original characters are the backbone of Saturday Night Live. Celebrity impressions and political parodies are popular but it’s the ability to create new personas week after week is what has made SNL so special. Heidi Gardner has certainly contributed to that legacy.

Gardner joined SNL for season 43 in 2017 as a featured player. Entering this season, she was promoted to a repertory player. This followed a successful season 45 where Gardner was especially strong during the Saturday Night Live at Home episodes that closed out the year.

Part of that success is due to Gardner’s ability to create unique, specific, and completely formed characters. These often appear at the “Weekend Update” desk where performers get a chance to have the spotlight solely on them.

Last night on Conan, Gardner provided some insight into how she created two of her best characters: Bailey Gismert and Angel, the girlfriend from every boxing movie. These characters are not only fan-favorites among SNL audiences but also earned Conan O’Brien’s seal of approval.

Conan O’Brien’s praise for Heidi Gardner can’t be overlooked. As the late night host mentioned, he was at Saturday Night Live when some of the most iconic characters were created. So for him to go out of his way to compliment Gardner on not one, but two SNL characters speaks to her talents as a performer.

O’Brien’s appreciation for Bailey Gismert likely comes from his experiences with his own teenage daughter. He opened the interview by saying how excited his daughter and her friends were that he was talking with Gardner. And anyone who has seen The Fighter or Southpaw instantly recognized Angel. It’s just Gardner had the comedy instincts to know that there was something there that could be a hit on Saturday Night Live.

Heidi Gardner has a bright future ahead of her on Saturday Night Live

Most Saturday Night Live cast members need a few years to settle in, make the jump from featured player to repertory player, and then really hit their stride. In her third season on the show, Gardner is well on her way to doing just that.

It’s also likely that she will only have a bigger role to play after this season. The general feeling is that this will be the final season for veterans like Cecily Strong, Aidy Bryant, and Kate McKinnon. As arguably the three best performers in the cast, their departure would leave some pretty big shoes to fill.

Gardner has demonstrated that she is more than capable of being a larger part of SNL week in and week out. She has all the characteristics, and characters, to be a foundation on the show for years to come.

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Which is your favorite Heidi Gardner character on Saturday Night Live? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.