Vanessa Bayer

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Vanessa Bayer
Vanessa Bayer at LOL for LLS 0.04.jpg
Bayer at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in 2015
Vanessa Polster Bayer

(1981-11-14) November 14, 1981 (age 41)
EducationUniversity of Pennsylvania (BA)
  • Actress
  • comedian
Years active2000s–present

Vanessa Polster Bayer (born November 14, 1981)[1] is an American actress, comedian, and singer. Bayer is best known for being a cast member on the NBC sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live from 2010 to 2017, which earned her an Emmy nomination. Outside of SNL, she co-created, co-executive produces, and has the lead role in the Showtime comedy I Love That for You, which is loosely based on her experience as a survivor of childhood leukemia. Bayer has also appeared in such films as Trainwreck (2015), Office Christmas Party (2016), Carrie Pilby (2016), Ibiza (2018), and Wander Darkly (2020).

Early life[edit]

Bayer was born in Orange, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, and raised in nearby Moreland Hills.[2][3] She is the daughter of Carolyn and Todd Bayer.[4] Bayer's family is Jewish, and she has stated that her Jewish upbringing "influenced [her] life and comedy".[5] She has a brother, Jonah, who is a music journalist and the guitarist of the punk supergroup United Nations.[6][7]

At age 15, she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Bayer stated that while battling the disease, she discovered the meaning of comic relief. "I don't know if it made me funnier, but it was so amazing, how it made everything be O.K.", she said.[8]

Bayer is a 2000 graduate of Orange High School.[9] In 2004, she graduated from the Annenberg School for Communication of the University of Pennsylvania, where she majored in communication and French.[4][10][11]

While attending college, Bayer interned on the television shows Sesame Street and Late Night with Conan O'Brien and participated in the cast of Bloomers, an all-female musical and sketch comedy troupe.[12]


As of 2012, Bayer was collaborating with her brother Jonah on the web series mSound Advice for Above Average. Bayer stars as Janessa Slater, a media coach who helps famous musicians change their image.[13][14][15] She was part of the all-Jewish cast of The Second City's stage show Jewsical: The Musical, a musical that presented a comedic take on Jewish life and culture.[16] She played the role of Kate Clark in the Chicago-based feature comedy Off the Cuff.[citation needed] Bayer performed improvisational comedy at Chicago's ImprovOlympic, where she trained with SNL castmate Paul Brittain[3] as well as the Annoyance Theatre and The Second City.[17]

Saturday Night Live[edit]

Bayer joined the cast of Saturday Night Live as a featured player on September 25, 2010. Beginning with the 2012–2013 season, Bayer was promoted to repertory status. In 2014, she was nominated for an American Comedy Award for her work on the show,[citation needed] and in 2017, she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.[18] Bayer departed SNL on May 20, 2017, after seven years on the show.[19][20]

Her recurring characters included:

  • Laura Parsons, a child actress always performing roles originally played by adults, including from Forrest Gump, The Wolf of Wall Street, Brokeback Mountain and Dallas Buyers Club
  • Brecky, a former porn star who creates homemade commercials to obtain free luxury items alongside Cecily Strong
  • Rebecca Stern-Markowicz, a co-host of J-Pop America Fun Time Now, which celebrates Japanese culture alongside Taran Killam and Jason Sudeikis
  • Rosa, a housemaid, in "The Californians"
  • Miss Meadows, an unrealistically perky poetry teacher trying to connect with her delinquent students
  • Miley Cyrus (impersonation), on "The Miley Cyrus Show"
  • An unnamed director of talk show Mornin' Miami
  • Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy, who appears on Weekend Update to perform a rehearsed speech with forced jokes about a given subject
  • One of three workshop elves who perform their jobs poorly in the hope that their master will "punish" them, alongside Kenan Thompson
  • Dawn Lazarus, an inept meteorologist who appears on Weekend Update and struggles to discuss the weather
  • The housewife who feeds her "hungry guys" Totinos.

Post-SNL career[edit]

Bayer appeared on ABC's Single Parents in 2019 in a recurring role as Mia Cooper, the ex-wife of Taran Killam's character.

Starting in 2018, she had a recurring role on NBC's Will & Grace playing Amy, a former baker who loses her job because of Karen and subsequently works for Karen's baseball team.

Bayer is the co-creator, co-executive producer, and star of the Showtime comedy I Love That for You, which premiered on May 1, 2022, and is loosely based on Bayer's life as a survivor of childhood leukemia.[21][22][23]


After Bayer was diagnosed with leukemia as a teenager, the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted her wish to send her family on vacation to Hawaii. In gratitude and recognition, Bayer is involved with the foundation. In 2015, she hosted the foundation's Evening of Wishes Dinner to help raise funds for wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses.[24]

In June 2019, she published the children's book How Do You Care for a Very Sick Bear?, which teaches children how to support friends with long-term illnesses.[25]



Vanessa Bayer film appearances
Year Title Role Notes
2009 Off the Cuff Kate Clark
2010 Stages of Emily Jocelyn Short film
2012 Adventures in the Sin Bin Superdawg Waitress
2013 Despicable Me 2 Flight Attendant Voice role
2015 Trainwreck Nikki
2016 Carrie Pilby Tara
Office Christmas Party Allison Parker
2017 The Polka King Bitsy Bear
2018 Ibiza Nikki
2020 Wander Darkly Maggie
2021 Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar Debbie
2022 DC League of Super-Pets PB Voice role


Vanessa Bayer television appearances
Year Title Role Notes
2010–17 Saturday Night Live Various Series regular
Nominated – 2014 American Comedy Award for Comedy Supporting Actress – TV
Nominated – 2014 Online Film & Television Association Award for Best Female Performance in a Fiction Program
Nominated – 2015 Online Film & Television Association Award for Best Female Performance in a Fiction Program
Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
2011 I Wanna Have Your Baby Connie Episode: "Corrine & Jerry"
2012 Sugarboy Chip's wife
2013 The Mindy Project Mary Episode: "Sk8er Man"
2014 Comedy Bang! Bang! Susan Armhold Episode: "Patton Oswalt Wears a Black Blazer & Dress Shoes"
2014 Wallykazam! Rockelle (voice) Episode: "The Rock Can Talk"
2014–17 Portlandia Various Episodes: "Sharing Finances", "Late in Life Drug Use", "You Can Call Me Al" and "The Storytellers"
2015 Man Seeking Woman Laura Episodes: "Traib" and "Lizard"
2015 The Awesomes Dr. Jill Stein-Awesome-Kaplan (voice) 4 episodes
2016 Modern Family Marjorie Episode: "Snow Ball"
2016–19 Drunk History Various 3 episodes
2017 The Simpsons Dr. Clarity Hoffman-Roth (voice) Episode: "A Father's Watch"
2017 Crashing Herself Episode: "Julie"
2018 Love Sarah Episode: "Sarah from College"
2018–20 Will & Grace Amy / Friday 6 episodes
2019–20 Single Parents Mia 3 episodes
2019 What We Do in the Shadows Evie Russell Episode: "Werewolf Feud"
2019 I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson Brenda Episode: "Has This Ever Happened to You?"
2019 Trolls: The Beat Goes On! Baha (voice) Episode: "Troll Playing Game/Finn Cascade"
2019 Helpsters Rita Reader Episode: "Rita Reader/Cody Gets a Cold"
2020 Shrill Justine Episode: "WAHAM"
2020 Brooklyn Nine-Nine Officer Debbie Fogle Recurring role (season 7); episodes "Manhunter",[26] "The Jimmy Jab Games II", and "Debbie"[27]
2022 Alice's Wonderland Bakery Tweedle Do (voice) Recurring role
2022 I Love That for You Joanna Gold Series regular; also creator and executive producer
2022 Barry Morgan Dawn-Cherry Episode: "710N"


  1. ^ "Thank you to my bro and everyone for the birthday wishes!!". Twitter: Vanessa Bayer (official account). November 14, 2021. Retrieved June 4, 2022. Happy 40th birthday to my little sister, podcasting partner and favorite comedian @vanessabayer!
  2. ^ Bayer, Vanessa; Bayer, Jonah. "Remember VHS Tapes? (With Michelle Zauner)". How Did We Get Weird with Vanessa Bayer and Jonah Bayer. Big Money Players Network and iHeartPodcasts. Retrieved July 18, 2022.
  3. ^ a b Moynihan, Rob. "SNL's Fab Four", TV Guide, March 7, 2011, Pages 44-45
  4. ^ a b Wolff, Carlo (November 20, 2012). "For Saturday Night Live's Bayer, humor a family affair". Cleveland Jewish News. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  5. ^ Rosenberg, Madeline (January 27, 2020). "Former 'SNL' Star Vanessa Bayer Talks Comedy, Jewish Identity". The Cornell Daily Sun. Retrieved July 1, 2022.
  6. ^ Eakin, Marah (July 8, 2015). "Jonah and Vanessa Bayer on Sound Advice, sibling rivalries, and childhood bribery". The A.V. Club. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  7. ^ "Watch Vanessa Bayer Roast United Nations". Stereogum. August 6, 2014. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  8. ^ Correal, Annie (May 7, 2016). "The (Very Lazy) Sunday Routine of Vanessa Bayer of 'Saturday Night Live'". The New York Times. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  9. ^ "'Saturday Night Live' regular Vanessa Bayer, a Moreland Hills native, returns home to perform Sunday at the Improv". November 22, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  10. ^ Swartz, Tracy (May 16, 2018). "'SNL' alum Vanessa Bayer returns to Second City for charity event". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 4, 2022.
  11. ^ "Saturday Night Live's Vanessa Bayer talks to Penn Undergrads". Annenberg School for Communication. May 26, 2011. Retrieved July 31, 2022 – via YouTube.
  12. ^ "All-Female Musical and Sketch Comedy at the University of Pennsylvania". Bloomers Comedy. Retrieved September 22, 2012.
  13. ^ "Penn Gazette | Alumni : Profiles". Retrieved September 22, 2012.
  14. ^ "Jonah Bayer". September 21, 2010. Retrieved September 22, 2012.
  15. ^ "An Interview with a Guy Who Hung Out with Drake for Two Hours Once". Noisey. October 16, 2017. Retrieved October 17, 2017.
  16. ^ "Jews in the News: Rachel Specter, Grammys & Barbra Streisand". Retrieved September 22, 2012.
  17. ^ "NBC'S 'SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE' PREMIERES SEPTEMBER 25 WITH SNL ALUM AMY POEHLER & CHART-TOPPING MUSICAL GUEST KATY PERRY". NBC-Universal Press Release. September 17, 2010. Archived from the original on March 11, 2012. Retrieved September 22, 2012.
  18. ^ "Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series – 2017". Los Angeles: Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  19. ^ Hughes, William (May 20, 2017). "Vanessa Bayer is leaving SNL".
  20. ^ "Vanessa Bayer leaving 'SNL'". CNN. May 21, 2017. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
  21. ^ Curto, Justin (July 12, 2021). "Showtime Would Love to See Vanessa Bayer's I Love This for You as a Series". Vulture. Retrieved June 4, 2022.
  22. ^ Stacy, Lambe (April 27, 2022). "How Vanessa Bayer's Childhood Battle With Leukemia Inspired 'I Love That for You' (Exclusive)". WKYC. Retrieved June 4, 2022.
  23. ^ Carlin, Shannon (May 10, 2022). "Vanessa Bayer on Channeling Her Childhood Cancer Experience in Showtime's I Love That for You". Time. Retrieved June 4, 2022.
  24. ^ Daley, Megan (June 22, 2015). "Vanessa Bayer talks to People about her childhood struggle with leukemia". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  25. ^ "How Do You Care for a Very Sick Bear?". Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  26. ^ Ferguson, LaToya (February 6, 2020). "It's a 'Manhunt' (and Traveling Pants Situation) to Start Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Seventh Season". The A.V. Club. Retrieved February 7, 2020.
  27. ^ Ferguson, LaToya (February 28, 2020). "A Coke-Fueled Brooklyn Nine-Nine Gets into the Mind of a Loose Cannon". The A.V. Club. Retrieved February 28, 2020.

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