Ranking every ‘SNL’ Hillary Clinton impression

Hillary Clinton will be making a guest appearance on the season 41 premiere of “Saturday Night Live” this weekend. That's apropos considering Clinton is one the most imitated real-life figures in “SNL” history. Since she came to prominence, she's been portrayed by nine different performers going all the way back to Jan Hooks.

To celebrate Hillary Clinton's history as a sketch character, let's rank all nine portrayals of the former New York senator and pick the ultimate “SNL” Hillary. 

Honorable mentions: Drew Barrymore and Rachel Dratch

Both Drew Barrymore and Rachel Dratch played Clinton in very brief moments on “SNL.” Barrymore played a young Clinton during a 2004 hosting stint and Dratch chimed in with a space-age Hillary in a “State of the Galaxy” sketch from 2006. While they are fun anomalous versions of the former Secretary of State, they aren't representative enough to factor in on this list. 

7. Janeane Garofalo

During the infamous '94-'95 season of “SNL,” Michael McKean and Janeane Garofalo took turns as Bill and Hillary. As you can see, the show hadn't quite worked out a hilarious angle from which to mock the Clintons. Here we just get a meditation on Bill's obsession with the middle class. Garofalo dutifully plays Hillary as Bill's straight-laced sidekick (with an admirable bob) but doesn't play up any of her personality quirks in particular.

6. and 5. Miley Cyrus and Vanessa Bayer

During Miley Cyrus' most recent hosting stint in 2013, Billy Ray's daughter and Vanessa Bayer both got to play stylized versions of Hillary in various scrapped TV movies. Bayer played a sinister Hillary characterization for a Fox News movie (to the hilt, by the way — fab job by Bayer) and Miley played a more rock-n'-roll Hillary for an MTV movie. While they're both ridiculous send-ups, the cartoonishness is very funny.

4. Ana Gasteyer

Ana Gasteyer played a stern Hillary Clinton in a bunch of late '90s and early 2000s appearances. Most of the time Gasteyer's Hillary acts as a humorless scold to Bill, which is hard to make hilarious, but she's also a commanding and sensible presence. Her angry eye-rolls are necessary when Darrell Hammond's version of Bill is that immature.

3. Jan Hooks

Jan Hooks' version of Hillary combined artificial sweetness and a lingering viperishness. Sometimes — as in the above sketch — the point of the sketch seemed to be putting Hillary in her place, but Hooks' rancor is a welcome bit of fun.

2. Amy Poehler

I regret that this list comes down to choosing between two great impressions, but I'm forced to put Amy at #2. Her Hillary is indeed hysterical, casting the onetime Secretary of State as both a capable politician and a little bit daffy in her ambitiousness. Surely her greatest moment was this sketch with Sarah Palin, whose every folksy eccentricity seemed like a dagger to Hillary's soul. Poehler's impersonation is a flattering portrayal, one that's even staid at times, but nonetheless a charming one.

1. Kate McKinnon

Kate McKinnon does with Hillary Clinton what Dana Carvey did with George H.W. Bush; she invents a new, extreme character using an existing politician's otherwise ho-hum personality tics. McKinnon plays up Hillary's ambitions and doesn't shy away from getting maniacal or flat-out weird. The simultaneous adherence to and divergence from the real Hillary Clinton makes her impression the most surprising and captivating one here. The insane hand-wave is revelatory on its own. Hope we get a good four years out of this one.