Aw, jeez. This is sad. Very funny human Jan Hooks passed away today at the age of 57. The Atlanta-born comedian and actress with the distinctive drawl was an SNL cast-member; regular voice on The Simpsons; and the smiling guide who told Pee-Wee there's no basement at the Alamo (amongst a million other roles).

Variety reports that she had been battling a serious illness but doesn't have much more info than that at the moment. Damn. The tail end of her Saturday Night Live years—1986 to 1991—was juuuust about the time I started watching so I'll always have a fondness for that era, but I'll be damned if she wasn't at her best in what was her last onscreen part in 2010: Verna, Jenna Maroney's mess of a mom on 30 Rock.

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She was only in two episodes during season four—introduced in "Verna," then appearing later that year in "The Moms" (which also featured our dear departed Elaine Stritch)—but she absolutely nailed it. Her delivery of the show's great writing was an honest-to-goodness perfect combo. Some faves:

  • "In my life, I've been a lot of things: a liar; a dental hygienist."
  • "I was drinking pretty heavily then, on account of my bad knee. And then I drove my jet ski into that great big bunch of moss."
  • "I mean, I got the meat, Jack."

I would highly highly highly recommend streaming them both tonight, and I hope that Hooks-as-Verna is up in heaven now, finally getting the other half of that boob job (it's just a little yank-up, you know?). [Netflix]

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