Saturday Night’s Children: Siobhan Fallon (1991-1992)
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.
It’s important to remember that before the dawn of the strong woman contingent that began with Molly Shannon, Cheri Oteri, and Ana Gasteyer and peaked with Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, and Kristen Wiig, female cast members were often underused, forgotten, or written off as either too ladylike or anti-ladylike to compete in the bro’s-club chaos of early 1990s SNL. Siobhan Fallon’s stint may have fizzled out before it had time to blossom — she left virtually no memorable moments in her wake save for a few lines in the “Delta Delta Delta” sketches — but she’s been working steady as a low-key quirky small-scene stealer ever since her brief SNL tenure.
Born in Syracuse and starting in showbiz with an elementary school production of The Music Man at age 12, Siobhan continued in plays and musicals throughout high school and her college years at Le Moyne College as well as The Catholic University in Washington D.C., where she earned her MFA in Acting. After graduation, she moved to New York City to join the off-Broadway Atlantic Theater Company and improv group called The Usual Suspects, where she developed characters who would later appear in her own off-Broadway one-woman shows like 1988’s “Bat Girl” and “What Can I Tell You?” The New York Post called her “comedy’s newest girl most likely” in 1988. On her first few years in New York, Fallon told the LA Times:
I was taking a comedy writing course. I didn’t even know I could write. I was just a regular actress in New York, going to all the auditions, and realizing that was not the route to breaking in–especially being a character type. See, I’m not an ingenue, I don’t play the pretty young things. Soap operas? Please, I’d rather stick needles in my eyes than do soap operas . . . not that they’d hire me either.
It was that rough, tough, no-bullshit style that helped earn Fallon her first television role on a 1990 episode of The Golden Girls, followed by a featured player spot on SNL’s 17th season in 1991 after the departure of Jan Hooks and longtime Weekend Update anchor Dennis Miller. She joined the show alongside newcomers Ellen Cleghorne and Robert Smigel, and in November, Lorne Michaels added two more females to the cast with Melanie Hutsell and Beth Cahill. To counter the frat boy humor, the new girls created the Delta Delta Delta sisters, a trio of sorority valley girls who were a short-lived with only four appearances. Aside from playing Meg of DDD, Fallon also appeared in two “It’s Pat” sketches and impersonated Katharine Hepburn and judge Mary Lupo.
Siobhan has since admitted to turning down sketches that went against her Catholic morals, a practice she would continue throughout her film and television career — something very unusual in the world of show business and comedy given her steady success as a character actress. What’s even more unusual is that she managed to still be liked, respected, and hired, hinting that she’s always professional, kind, and fun to work with, otherwise one can’t imagine her returning, for example, to be in shows like 30 Rock where she played one of Jack Donaghy’s overbearing Catholic siblings in “The Fighting Irish.”
Following her departure at the end of the season, Fallon appeared as Elaine’s annoying waitress/actress roommate Tina in three episodes of Seinfeld from 1991-1994, then began snagging small but memorable film roles starting with her role as the chain-smoking bus driver Dorothy Harris in 1994’s Forrest Gump, then as the outgunned sugar water-making wife Beatrice in 1997’s Men In Black, and smaller roles in The Negotiator, Holes, Jury Duty, Charlotte’s Web, Daddy Day Care, New In Town, and Lars Von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark and Dogville. In television she’s appeared in Third Watch, Law & Order: SVU, Rescue Me, and more.
Fallon currently lives in New Jersey with her husband and three children and has been credited as Siobhan Fallon Hogan since 2002 (and no, she is not related to fellow SNLer Jimmy Fallon). “My faith has had a terrible effect on my career! I could have made a lot more do-re-mi,” Fallon told CUA Magazine. “But I figure when it’s all over, God’s not going to care how much money I made. I may, but him…no.” So often actors get blackballed in the biz when they prove ‘difficult’ in this manner, so it’s a testament to Fallon’s quirky brand of in-your-face crazy and perfectly authentic Irish-Catholic eccentricity that she’s managed to survive so long. She might not have ever registered on SNL, but sometimes careers are made from being just left of the center of attention, and Fallon’s delivered the laughs, smirks, and even cringes for 20 years no matter how small the part…as long as it doesn’t involve infidelity.
Megh Wright misses Harrisburg, lives in Brooklyn, and answers phones in Manhattan.