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05 January 2009 @ 10:34 pm
NY Times Interview  
EVERYONE knows someone like Penelope, the hair-tugging, chronically fibbing one-upper (Speeding ticket? “I have 99 speeding tickets. I was speeding so fast I broke the sound barrier.”) that Kristen Wiig plays on “Saturday Night Live,” or so she’s beginning to hear. Or maybe they’ve — you’ve — had a run-in with the gum-popping, eye-rolling, demanding megajerks; the chatty, bargain-hungry Target cashier; or an irritated armchair film critic like Aunt Linda, who mispronounces Scorsese but loves “Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties.”

These are the oversize, wacky-yet-true characters that Ms. Wiig, 35, has used to build an audience as a star of “SNL.” Though her fans recognize the personalities, they may not recognize the actress, who disappears weekly in middle-agedly bad outfits and worse hairpieces. (If you’re waiting for a wig pun, stop.)

With the departure of Amy Poehler last month, Ms. Wiig has become, during only her fourth season, the most veteran female cast member on the show. Aside from standouts like Gilda Radner, “SNL” has not been known for developing female comedy brands until the Tina Fey era. In the last live broadcast, in December, Ms. Wiig appeared in every sketch but one. Though she may pop up as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or the financial adviser Suze Orman when the show returns live next Saturday, she will most likely, at some point, put aside the impressions and take on a warbly voice and an ugly knit to play someone more everyday.

“There’s something about a Christmas sweater that will always make me laugh,” she said in a recent interview in a cafe near her home on the Upper West Side, which is woefully devoid of tacked-on flair.

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