Chris Parnell

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Chris Parnell
Chris Parnell by David Shankbone.jpg
Parnell at the Tribeca Film Festival, April 27, 2007
Born Thomas Christopher Parnell
(1967-02-05) February 5, 1967 (age 48)
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
Occupation Actor, comedian, singer
Years active 1995–present

Thomas Christopher "Chris" Parnell (born February 5, 1967) is an American comic actor best known as a cast member on NBC's Saturday Night Live from 1998–2006 and for his role as Dr. Leo Spaceman on NBC's Emmy Award-winning comedy series 30 Rock. Parnell does voicework as "Cyril Figgis" on the FX animated comedy Archer, and as "Jerry" on the Adult Swim animated sci-fi/comedy Rick and Morty.

Early life[edit]

Chris Parnell was born in Memphis, Tennessee to a Southern Baptist family.[1] He graduated from Germantown High School and later attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where he received his BFA in Drama. After graduating, Parnell moved back to Tennessee and taught acting and film at his former high school. With a strong passion for performing, Parnell eventually moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. While in Los Angeles, he began performing with The Groundlings.


After performing as a company player with The Groundlings for a number of years, Parnell was hired to join the cast of Saturday Night Live as a featured player on September 26, 1998, and was promoted to repertory player the following season. In the summer of 2001, budget cuts and hiring four new cast members required Lorne Michaels to dismiss two cast members; he chose to lay off Parnell and Jerry Minor over Horatio Sanz, Rachel Dratch, and Maya Rudolph, but Parnell was rehired in the middle of the next season.[2]

While on SNL, Parnell appeared in numerous sketches, and commercial parodies, and performed memorable impressions of various celebrities. Among his notable sketches are "Lazy Sunday", a rap video he shot with Andy Samberg about buying cupcakes and going to see The Chronicles of Narnia, and "More Cowbell". He has also performed raps about hosts Jennifer Garner, Britney Spears, Kirsten Dunst and Ashton Kutcher. On the 30 Rock DVD commentary (S05E04 West Coast) Tina Fey and Beth McCarthy Miller said Parnell was nicknamed "The Ice Man" whilst working at SNL, because of his apparent immunity to breaking, citing the "Cowbell sketch" in which he was the only actor not to break.[citation needed]

In mid-2006, Michaels announced that four cast members would be fired due to budget cuts, but he did not say who.[3] On September 22, 2006 it was announced that three cast members had been fired: Parnell, Horatio Sanz, and Finesse Mitchell. This effectively made him the only SNL performer to have been fired twice by Lorne Michaels, although Parnell did say in a 2008 interview with The Sound of Young America podcast that he was okay with being let go this time, because he was considering leaving after that season anyway, but added that he probably would have stayed one last season if he was asked back. He had been with SNL for eight seasons; at the time only four people (Darrell Hammond, Tim Meadows, Kevin Nealon, and Al Franken) had been cast members longer. He has since made uncredited cameo appearances on the show, including parodying newscasters Tom Brokaw, Jim Lehrer, and Bob Schieffer. Parnell and his former SNL castmate Horatio Sanz starred together in Big Lake, a 2010 sitcom on Comedy Central from executive producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay.[citation needed]

Parnell voiced Fly in the animated film Hotel Transylvania and is currently a series regular on the FX animated series Archer and made recurring guest appearances as Dr. Leo Spaceman on 30 Rock and provides the voice of the narrator on the PBS children's series WordGirl. From 2011 to 2014, Parnell co-starred on the ABC comedy series Suburgatory where he played the husband of his former SNL castmate Ana Gasteyer. His role started out as recurring in the first season but he was bumped up to a series regular in the second season. The series aired for 3 seasons on ABC.

He provides the voice of the Progressive Box in the Progressive Corporation Insurance commercials. He also voices Jerry on the adultswim show, Rick & Morty.

Recurring characters on SNL[edit]

  • Alan "Sticks" McRae, one of Deandra Wells' drummers
  • Daniel, a student from Jimmy Fallon's "Jarrett's Room" sketch who lived in the dorm next to Jarret and Gobi and always falls for their bogus tricks to get girls (because of Parnell's short-lived termination, Parnell's Daniel was replaced by Jeff Richards's character, Jeff, a jock whose gross habits are always caught on Jarret's webcam)
  • Jeph, a member of the boy band 7 Degrees Celsius
  • Kevin Aquarius, a dancer covered in silver paint who does the robot on the talk show "Veronica and Co."
  • One of the Lundford Twins' Feel Good Variety Hour dancers
  • Merv "The Perv" Watson, a sleazy man who hits on women with sleazy double-entendres. Has a British cousin named Steve the Skeev (played by Colin Farrell) and a twin brother named Irv (played by Johnny Knoxville).
  • Sean DeMarco, a wannabe dancer who auditions to be an interpretive dancer for SNL's musical guests.
  • Tato, the strange manservant to bizarre art dealers Nuni and Nooni
  • An eyepatched Telemundo actor from Besos Y Lagrimas
  • Terrye Funck, a wannabe talk show host who creates his own show in the basement of his mom's house
  • Thad, from Gays in Space
  • Tyler, a frequent patient from the recurring sketch Appalachian Emergency Room who always tells Nerod (Seth Meyers) the receptionist tall tales about how he got an object (can of Axe body spray, jar of cotton balls, a plastic bowling pin, a Native American rainstick, his car keys, etc.) stuck up his rectum (and in one case, how he got a watermelon stuck to his penis).
  • Warren Kirney, a married man who always convinces the hired help in his family to have a three-way with him and his wife (Ana Gasteyer)
  • Wayne Bloder, a barfly who always hits on the women there, along with his brother, Kip (played by Jimmy Fallon)
  • DJ Intro, a DJ who can sing every action. ("SNL, On "Deep House Dish")

Celebrity impersonations on SNL[edit]

Select filmography[edit]


Music appearances[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Profile,; accessed April 2, 2014.
  2. ^ Profile,, January 2010; accessed April 2, 2014.
  3. ^ "Four SNLers are history, says Lorne Michaels",; accessed April 2, 2012.
  4. ^ Adult Swim (July 29, 2013). SDCC 2013 - Rick and Morty - Adult Swim (YouTube). 

External links[edit]