Open main menu

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, which earned her a Primetime Emmy Award nomination, from 2010 to 2017. Bayer also appeared in films such as Trainwreck (2015), Office Christmas Party (2016), Carrie Pilby (2016), and Ibiza (2018).

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 37)
EducationUniversity of Pennsylvania
Years active2009–present

Early lifeEdit

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 drummer for the punk supergroup United Nations.[3][4]

At the age of 15, she was diagnosed with leukemia. 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 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 Second City.[13]

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

Saturday Night LiveEdit

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] Bayer departed SNL on May 20, 2017 after seven years on the show. She held the record of the show's longest-serving female cast member with 149 episodes; Maya Rudolph had been a cast member for nine seasons, staying for 146 episodes.[14][15] She was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for that season.[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
  • Rachel Green from the sitcom Friends (and other characters from the show)
  • One of two workshop elves who perform their jobs poorly in the hope that their master will "punish" them alongside Kenan Thompson
  • An unnamed housewife who makes Totinos for her husband's "hungry guys".
  • Dawn Lazarus, an inept meteorologist who appears on Weekend Update and struggles to discuss the weather.
  • Miley Cyrus as the host of her own talk show.


Bayer suffered from leukemia as a teenager. The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted her wish to send her family on vacation to Hawaii. As a former "Make-A-Wish kid", Bayer continues to do work 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]


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
2017 The Polka King Bitsy Bear
2018 Ibiza Nikki
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"
2014–15 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 Episode: "All Aboard The Two-Parent Struggle Bus"
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?"


  1. ^ a b Moynihan, Rob. "SNL's Fab Four", TV Guide, March 7, 2011, Pages 44-45
  2. ^ a b Vanessa Bayer from the Orange High School website
  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. The New York Times Company. 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. ^ Hughes, William. "Vanessa Bayer is leaving SNL".
  15. ^ "Vanessa Bayer leaving 'SNL'". CNN. May 21, 2017. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
  16. ^ "Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series - 2017". Los Angeles: Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  17. ^ Daley, Megan (June 22, 2015). "Vanessa Bayer talks to People about her childhood struggle with leukemia" (online ed.). Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  18. ^ "How Do You Care for a Very Sick Bear?". Macmillan Publishers. Retrieved March 28, 2018.

External linksEdit