A triptych of SNL star Molly Kearney dressed as Randy McNally, in a purple jumpsuit, and in a nun's habit
Image Credits: ‘Saturday Night Live,’ NBC

Live from New York, it’s… your new favorite SNL star!

Last year, actor-comedian Molly Kearney made history when they joined the cast of Saturday Night Live, becoming the long-running sketch comedy show’s first ever nonbinary performer.

Born in Cleveland, the 31-year-old performer came up through the world of stand-up, cutting their teeth in Chicago’s robust comedy scene before a short stint in LA. In the past year, Kearney’s made a few notable TV appearances (including Disney+’s The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers and the fantastic reboot of A League Of Their Own), but their time on SNL has sent them soaring to new heights. Literally.

Along with co-stars Bowen Yang and Punkie Johnson—and a handful of talented LGBTQ+ writers behind the scenes—Kearney’s freshman season was one SNL‘s queerest ever. Whether they were playing a beleaguered Hello Kitty store manager, a quietly threatening super-powered mutant, or just being themself, Kearney has shown off an impressive range across 18 episodes, and a particular knack for exhibiting a controlled chaos in their comedy.

Now that the season has come to an end, let’s take a look back at Kearney’s best sketches and characters so far, the moments that show why they’re destined for a memorable career in the hallowed halls of 30 Rock:

New Cast Advice

From the October 8 episode with host Brendan Gleeson and musical guest Willow.

In the second episode of the season, this pre-taped sketch gave audiences their first proper introduction to SNL‘s newest featured players, making it immediately clear what a shining star Kearney was. While their co-stars—Marcello Hernandez, Michael Longfellow, Devon Walker—each earnestly open up about their lives in the spotlight, Kearney gets to have all the fun, spinning a wild narrative about how SNL boss Lorne Michaels tasked them with assassinating Vladimir Putin. The more ludicrous the story gets, the more Kearney charms—and they even get to throw in a quick (but important!) joke about their correct pronouns.

Please Don’t Destroy: Election Night

From the November 12 episode with host Dave Chappelle and musical guest Black Star.

Given Chappelle’s frequent comments mocking the trans community, many folks were rightfully upset when it was announced he’d be hosting SNL again this season. While rumors that writers were going to boycott the episode were debunked, it’s notable that Kearney’s only sketch that night was pre-taped and didn’t feature Chappelle at all. A small act of protest, perhaps? Regardless, Kearney’s hysterical in this Please Don’t Destroy short alongside the guys, perfectly matching—and the elevating—the frenetic energy as they become an accidental politician. The highlight? Their instant makeover from “little league umpire” to “a Lego guy.”

Morning Announcements

From the January 21 episode with host Aubrey Plaza and musical guest Sam Smith.

While the previous two sketches showcase Kearney’s ability to ratchet up a comedic bit’s absurdity, this one proves they’re just as capable anchoring things, playing the straight person to Plaza’s wayward nun while still scoring big laughs. Kearney’s Sister Clarence is just trying to get through the morning announcements for Saint Andrew’s High School, but Plaza’s Sister Cecelia just had a run-in with death that has her questioning her faith, making the task at hand quite difficult. Equipped with an impressive Irish accent, Kearney handles everything the sketch throws at them, wrapping things up on a sweet note and a surprising A Star Is Born duet.

Weekend Update: Tennessee Lt. Governor Randy McNally

From the March 11 episode with host Jenna Ortega and musical guest The 1975.

In what will surely be one of the strangest stories of the year, Tennessee’s Lt. Governor Randy McNally—who has supported the state’s hateful anti-drag laws—was caught commenting on thirsty Instagram posts from one of his young, gay constituents. Ripped from the headlines, Kearney appears at the Weekend Update desk, fully transformed into McNally, hilariously characterizing the Republican as a technologically challenged, bumbling old stinker who’s shamelessly thirsty. SNL has a long tradition of female cast members skewering the personas of male politicians, but seeing this nonbinary star gleefully tackle a right-winger feels even more subversive.

Weekend Update: Anti-LGBTQ+ Bills in the U.S.

From the April 15 episode with host Ana de Armas and musical guest Karol G.

While the writer’s strike meant this season of SNL wrapped up earlier than expected (solidarity with the WGA!), it did allow for Kearney to end their freshman year on a high note—and we do mean high! Once again visiting the Weekend Update desk (where they’ve quickly become a secret weapon), Kearney gets a rock star’s entrance as they’re suspended from the rafters to stand up for the trans community.

With witty one liners (“I’ve been hung up on my genitals for far too long, and I’m starting to feel like a freakin’ Republican lawmaker!”) and some righteous anger, they offer some beautiful words of encouragement to trans youth while flying through the SNL skies. “Trans rights!” they yell as pink, white, and blue confetti falls around them. It’s in moments like these that we’re reminded how truly important and impactful it is that SNL cast its first ever nonbinary performer, and why were so lucky to have the talented Kearney make the most of their platform.

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