One of our favorite funny ladies is leaving Saturday Night Live.
On Tuesday, the sad news broke that Leslie Jones is departing SNL after five seasons on NBC’s late-night sketch show. Jones leaves behind an impressive legacy on SNL, including the milestone of being the oldest cast member to join the show at age 47 and three Emmy nominations. But as with most SNL cast members, her true legacy lies in the body of work she delivered on screen and the laughs she brought viewers at home.
In honor of her departure, we’ve compiled some of her most memorable moments on the show.
Jones made an art of portraying former Apprentice contestant and White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman on SNL, appearing on Weekend Update to set the record straight on why she was fired from the White House. But her funniest, most off-the-wall appearance in the role was during a 2017 Christmas cold open. As Omarosa, Jones bangs on the window, begging to be let into the White House and taking down Secret Service members in the process.
Every SNL cast member has at least one go-to celeb impression and Jones was perfect as Whoopi Goldberg. This past spring she brought the impression to life in a sketch mocking talk show The View. Jones leads the panel of pundits, hilariously interrupting drama between Joy Behar (Kate McKinnon) and Meghan McCain (Aidy Bryant) with a spray bottle full of water.
Jones often made audiences laugh by breaking character — the stand-up comedian frequently could not hold it together when something particularly funny happened in a sketch, thereby only making us at home laugh harder. But no struggle to stay in character could match this Christmas sketch from 2017, a twist on Dan Aykroyd’s iconic Julia Child impression from the show’s early years. Host James Franco is an enthusiastic holiday gift wrapper, who keeps sustaining blood-spurting injuries with scissors and a paper cutter, spraying shoppers with blood. Jones is one of these shoppers, but the gory scene almost turns her stomach. Starting around the 2:40 mark, you can see her struggle not to actively gag on stage. We never thought someone trying not to vomit could make us laugh so hard.
Jones is an earnest, bleeds red-white-and-blue lover of the Olympics — so much so that her viral tweets earned her an NBC correspondent job and a trip to Rio in 2016. Last winter, Jones took on an even more official role covering the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. She brought that love to the Weekend Update desk, filling audiences in on her love of the sport and her correspondent gig. She even brought out women’s hockey player Hilary Knight to celebrate her gold medal win.
One of Jones’ most lasting contributions to SNL were her semi-regular appearances on Weekend Update where she would do a riff on a stand-up set, tackling anything from women being “crazy bitches” (in response to a woman who climbed down a man’s chimney) to baseball to her vacation in Jamaica to dating in New York. Jones got off to a rocky start with the segment when her very first appearance (in May 2014 before she was officially named a featured player) sparked a firestorm of controversy in response to her jokes about her potential effectiveness for breeding during slavery in contrast to her current dating woes.
‘Naked and Afraid’ Celebrity Edition
In this 2016 pre-taped sketch, Jones joined that week’s host Peter Dinklage for a spoof on reality show Naked and Afraid. Jones hilariously kicked things off, emerging from an Uber naked to meet up with Dinklage for their 21 days in the wilderness. She doubled down from there, making jokes about Dinklage “packing,” calling him by his Game of Thrones character name, Tyrion, and cuddling him for “body warmth.” Dinklage got bonus points for surviving 21 days with Leslie, “a feat no man has ever achieved.”
Leslie Wants to Play Trump
In this digital short that takes an inspirational video framework, Jones aspires to replace Alec Baldwin as SNL’s prime impersonator of Donald Trump after watching Melissa McCarthy play Sean Spicer. We see Jones practicing Trump’s distinctive patterns of speech and hand gestures. The payoff comes when we see Jones in Trump’s full orange wig, complete with oversized eyebrows. Jones excels at mock seriousness in her comedy, and she takes this concept to the limit, trying to convince Lorne Michaels to buy into her idea and more. And the impression is good enough for Melania (or at least Cecily Strong’s version of her) after all.
Jones romances her fellow cast members
A big part of Jones’ schtick was her commitment to discussing her dating life — her perpetual singledom and her played for laughs sexual appetite for just about any man on SNL. The bit first began as she routinely hit on Colin Jost while appearing on Weekend Update, calling him things like a “little salty oyster cracker.” But she took things to the next level with a series of digital shorts depicting the ups and downs of her “relationship” with fellow cast member Kyle Mooney, including a wedding that took place on the SNL soundstage.