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Beautiful people 2009

While everyone else was going on and on about Tina Fey’s spot-on Palin impersonation, Kristen Wiig was quietly and effectively making a name for herself on Saturday Night Live. With her subtly deranged characters — from the way-over-eager Target lady to the one-upping basket-case Penelope to a boozed-up Kathie Lee Gifford — Wiig is making SNL deeply weird again. “Wow — deeply weird is like the biggest compliment you could give me,” says Wiig excitedly. Although her on-camera characters can be found hitting the town Sex and the City-style with a tomato and Liza Minnelli — Minnelli’s guest spot came about after Wiig, along with former co-stars Rachel Dratch and Amy Poehler, went to see her at the Palace Theatre and afterwards approached her with their pitch — Wiig in real life is fairly reticent.

The comedian who is shy and serious off-stage is not a new phenomenon, and Wiig says simply: “I don’t know where it comes from — or why we are who we are.” After dropping out of college during her junior year to make a go of it as an actress in L.A., Wiig found that she was drawn more toward a comedic bent and joined the storied improv troupe the Groundlings. Seven years later, in 2005, she landed a spot on SNL. Now in her fourth season on the show, and with Amy Poehler recently departed, Wiig is holding court as the queen bee of SNL, killing it in nearly every skit. She also has several movies in the works, including Greg Mottola’s Adventureland and Drew Barrymore’s roller-derby comedy Whip It! But her dream project? “I loved The Wire — I would have loved to have played a crack addict.”

© 2009 Alexis Swerdloff, PAPER.