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 39)
EducationUniversity of Pennsylvania
Years active2009–present

Vanessa Polster Bayer (born November 14, 1981) is an American actress and comedian. She is best known for being a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 2010 to 2017, which earned her an Emmy nomination. Bayer also appeared in films such as Trainwreck (2015), Office Christmas Party (2016), Carrie Pilby (2016), and Ibiza (2018).

Early life[edit]

Bayer was born and raised in Orange, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, to a Reform Jewish family.[1] She is the daughter of Carolyn (née Polster) and Todd Bayer.[2] She has a brother, Jonah, who is a music journalist and the guitarist of the punk supergroup United Nations.[3][4]

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.[5]

Bayer graduated from Orange High School in 2000[6] and attended the University of Pennsylvania, where she majored in communication and French,[7] graduating in 2004.


As of 2012, Bayer was collaborating with her brother Jonah on the web series Sound Advice for Above Average. Bayer stars as Janessa Slater, a media coach who helps famous musicians change their image.[8][9][10]

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.[11] Bayer 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.[12]

Bayer 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[1] as well as the Annoyance Theatre and The Second City.[13]

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.

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. She has been praised for her performance on the show, with HitFix calling her "one of the strongest members of the ensemble"[verify] and Rolling Stone calling her "Saturday Night Live's secret weapon".[verify] 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.[14] Bayer departed SNL on May 20, 2017, after seven years on the show.[15][16]

Her recurring characters include:

  • 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
  • Miss Meadows, an unrealistically perky poetry teacher trying to connect with her delinquent students
  • An unnamed director of talk show Mornin' Miami
  • Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy, who appears on Weekend Update to perform a rehearsed speech (complete with forced jokes) about a given subject
  • One of two 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


Bayer was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 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.[2][17]

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.[18]



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 TBA 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 – 69th Primetime Emmy Awards ("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"
2014–15 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 4 episodes
2016 Modern Family Marjorie Episode: "Snow Ball"
2016–18 Drunk History Various 2 episodes
2017 The Simpsons Dr. Clarity Hoffman-Roth (voice) Episode: "A Father's Watch"
2018 Love Sarah Episode: "Sarah from College"
2018 Will & Grace Amy Episode: "The Beefcake & the Cake Beef"
2019 Single Parents Mia 2 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 Helpsters Rita Reader Episode: "Rita Reader/Cody Gets a Cold"
2019 Will & Grace Amy Episode: "The Grief Panda"
2020 Shrill Justine Episode: "WAHAM"
2020 Brooklyn Nine-Nine Officer Debbie Fogle Recurring role, in season 7 episodes "Manhunter",[19] "The Jimmy Jab Games II", and "Debbie".[20]
TBA I Love This For You TBA Series regular


  1. ^ a b Moynihan, Rob. "SNL's Fab Four", TV Guide, March 7, 2011, Pages 44-45
  2. ^ a b "Vanessa Bayer". Orange High School.
  3. ^ Eakin, Marah. "Jonah and Vanessa Bayer on Sound Advice, sibling rivalries, and childhood bribery". The A.V. Club. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  4. ^ "Watch Vanessa Bayer Roast United Nations". Stereogum. August 6, 2014. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "'Saturday Night Live' regular Vanessa Bayer, a Moreland Hills native, returns home to perform Sunday at the Improv". Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  7. ^ "For Saturday Night Live's Bayer, humor a family affair - Cleveland Jewish News: Entertainment". Cleveland Jewish News. November 20, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  8. ^ "Penn Gazette | Alumni : Profiles". Retrieved September 22, 2012.
  9. ^ "Jonah Bayer". September 21, 2010. Retrieved September 22, 2012.
  10. ^ "An Interview with a Guy Who Hung Out with Drake for Two Hours Once". Noisey. October 16, 2017. Retrieved October 17, 2017.
  11. ^ "All-Female Musical and Sketch Comedy at the University of Pennsylvania". Bloomers Comedy. Retrieved September 22, 2012.
  12. ^ "Jews in the News: Rachel Specter, Grammys & Barbra Streisand". Retrieved September 22, 2012.
  13. ^ "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.
  14. ^ "Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series - 2017". Los Angeles: Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  15. ^ Hughes, William. "Vanessa Bayer is leaving SNL".
  16. ^ "Vanessa Bayer leaving 'SNL'". CNN. May 21, 2017. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
  17. ^ Daley, Megan (June 22, 2015). "Vanessa Bayer talks to People about her childhood struggle with leukemia". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  18. ^ "How Do You Care for a Very Sick Bear?". Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ 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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