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Funniest knockout

It’s no secret: The ladies have been carrying ‘SNL’ for years. And this season’s MVP is Kristen Wiig – the best thing to happen to Saturday Night Live since Chris Farley went Chippendales

If there’s one thing that’s kept SNL in business for almost three decades, it’s players like Dan Aykroyd, Phil Hartma, and Jane Curtin – the underrated mimics and chamelonic players who hold the show together. Well, you can add Kristen Wiig to that list. In a season that was nearly kneecapped by the writer’s strike, it was Wiig’s dizzying menu of characters that kept those SATURDAY NIGHT DEAD headlines blooming all over again.

Like all great impressionist, the 35-year old Wiig is a great observer of the human species. “Weekend Update” critic Aunt Linda came from a woman baffled by an in-flight movie – “She had her earphones on, and was talking really loud saying, “WHAT IS GOING ON?” says the three-season vet. Though Wiig professes a deep and abiding love for subjects, when she wants to draw blood, she can be surgical. Just ask San Fransisco congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, who was gutted and left flopping on the floor after Wiig sketched her ascension to the House Speaker as the seventh sign of the apocolypse. (Leather-chapped sex slaves? Check. S&M safe words? Palamino!) Or Jamie Lee Curtis, who Wiig had soiling herself midcommercial for Activia yogurt.

The cruel twist is that for all that talent – and those looks – she’s virtually unrecognizable in person: “I get, ‘So that’s what you look like!” all the time. I think it’s because I don’t have a goofy frosted wiig on or an animal on my sweater.” It may be cold comfort, but there’s one guy you can be damn sure recognizes her no matter what she’s wearing – and if he has half a brain, Lorne Michaels thanks the ghost of Phil Hartman for Kristen Wiig everyday.

© 2008 Dan Fierman, GQ.