Chris Parnell

Chris Parnell

Parnell at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival.
Born Thomas Christopher Parnell
(1967-02-05) February 5, 1967
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
Occupation Actor, comedian, singer
Years active 1995–present

Thomas Christopher "Chris" Parnell (born February 5, 1967) is an American actor, comedian, and singer. He is 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 comedy series 30 Rock. He also voices Cyril Figgis on the FX comedy series Archer and Jerry Smith on the Adult Swim sci-fi comedy series Rick and Morty.

Early life

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, he moved back to Tennessee and taught acting and film at his former high school. With a strong passion for performing, he eventually moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. While there, 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 DVD commentary for the West Coast version of the 30 Rock episode "Live Show", Tina Fey and Beth McCarthy Miller noted that Parnell was nicknamed "The Ice Man" while working at SNL, because of his apparent immunity to breaking, citing the "more cowbell" sketch in which he was the only actor not to break.

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.

Parnell voiced Fly in the animated film Hotel Transylvania and is 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 the character played by 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 three seasons on ABC.

He provides the voice of the "Progressive Box" in commercials for Progressive Insurance.[4] He voices Jerry on the Adult Swim show Rick & Morty.

Selected filmography



Music appearances

See also


  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).
  5. Frederick, Brittany. "Another 'Archer' Reunion On Sunday's 'Bob's Burgers'". Starpulse. Retrieved 29 April 2016.

External links

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