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Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
SNL

Saturday Night's Children: Casey Wilson (2008-2009)

Saturday Night Live has been home to over a hundred cast members throughout the past 36 years. In our column Saturday Night’s Children, we present the history, talent, and best sketches of one SNL cast member each week for your viewing, learning, and laughing pleasure.

She may have only been on SNL for a year and a half, but that certainly hasn't stopped Casey Wilson from staying on the comedy circuit. Since leaving the show in 2009, Wilson has co-written the film Bride Wars, appeared in plenty of videos for Funny Or Die, and currently stars in the ABC comedy Happy Endings. Being the lone featured player isn’t an easy hill to climb, but for a lady who publicly reads the words of her most hateful internet commenters and turns them into hilariousness, it looks like Wilson knows how to use the bad to make more of the good.

Wilson was born in Alexandia, Virginia and studied theater at both Tisch and the Stella Adler School of Acting. After graduating from NYU in 2002, she began performing at the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York and later in Los Angeles, where she was a member of two Harold teams and also co-wrote the two-woman show "Rode Hard and Put Away Wet" with her friend and collaborator June Raphael, which earned them a ECNY Award for "Best Comedy Duo" in 2005. Before SNL she appeared in Human Giant, The Brothers Solomon, and For Your Consideration, where she played an aspiring actress in the film's final scene.

SNL hired Wilson in January 2008, but due to the WGA strike she didn't appear until February 23rd. She was the first cast member born in the 1980s and the only featured player hired for the season, replacing Maya Rudolph after she left in November 2007. Wilson's most successful characters and impressions were Katy Perry, Jennifer Aniston, Joan Holloway, Ginnifer Goodwin as Margene in the Big Love parody, and her uncanny Rachel Ray. She also played the manly-voiced "Cougar Den" cohost Toni Ward, Nora from "The Lawrence Welk Show" sketches, and paraplegic stripper Dusty Velvet, who was based on one of her most popular UCB characters Mandy De'tour. Wilson used the character in her SNL audition and performed as Dusty in April 2008 with host Ashton Kutcher playing Donnie, the man hired to move her body parts so she can still “dance erotically.”

In an unexpected move, SNL fired Wilson along with Michaela Watkins before the 2009-2010 season and quickly replaced them with younger newcomers Jenny Slate and Nasim Pedrad. Rumors flew about the reason behind Wilson’s firing, but it apparently came down to a lack of memorable characters in thanks to the SNL heavyweights around her like Poehler, Forte, Wiig, Samberg, and others. In 2010 she said of the experience:

"It was definitely a mixed bag. In a way, getting on that show was the high point…and I had a ball doing it. It wasn't ultimately the best fit for me; I'm more of a comedic actress. But I think I'd do it all over again. There's nothing like performing at 11:30 on a Saturday night to a live audience in a skyscraper."

Some of Wilson’s Funny Or Die videos include "Black Best Friend," "Home for Actresses," and most recently "Callista Gingrich on Open Marriage," and she’s also appeared in Julie & Julia, The Life & Times of Tim, NTSF:SD:SUV, Bored to Death, and most recently Happy Endings on ABC. This year she's set to costar in My Mother's Curse with Barbara Streisand, Seth Rogen, and Adam Scott, and she's written two more films with Raphael — The Bachelorette Party is currently in development, and Ass Backwards is set for release this year.

Megh Wright misses Harrisburg, lives in Brooklyn, and answers phones in Manhattan.

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  • Anthony Coro

    I've said it before and I'll say it again (and hopefully I'll follow through if I get a job on the writing staff of Happy Endings, cross your fingers)–if I ever see Casey Wilson, I am going to immediately run up and give her a great big bear hug to apologize for all the stuff I said about her not being funny during her SNL tenure. I maintain that it wasn't the right venue for her (and she seems to agree with that) but when I watch her on Happy Endings, I am overfilled with joy on account of her total hilarity. She is perfect for that role. So I feel like I owe her a hug.

    You've been warned, Casey. Be prepared.

  • A Good Question

    I've seen her as Callista Gingrich before. I'm definitely looking up the open marriage video when I get home.

    That's the great thing about Happy Endings (and happy endings for that matter.) Being underutilized on and then fired from SNL could have been a big setback, but she didn't take long to turn lemons into lemonade.