There are some Jewish celebrities who are very obviously members of the tribe. Whether due to their Ashkenazi last name (say, Andy Samberg) or to their outspokenness about their Jewish identity (Sarah Sherman AKA Sarah Squirm, for instance), some famous people make it so easy to tell that you don’t even have to google “[INSERT CELEBRITY NAME] Jewish?”
And there are other Jewish celebrities whose Jewishness is a little less easily recognizable. Exhibit A: hilarious comedian and former “Saturday Night Live” star Vanessa Bayer.
We’ll take a beat to allow for any surprised or excited outbursts.
So now that you know she’s Jewish, let’s learn a little more about her.
Here are 18 things to know about Vanessa Bayer.
1. Vanessa was born in 1981 in Ohio to a Reform Jewish family.
2. She has an older brother named Jonah.
Here they are together at his bar mitzvah:
3. As a child, Vanessa and her brother attended Sunday school and Hebrew school every week.
“I didn’t think we were raised that religiously, but I guess we kind of were,” Vanessa said in a podcast interview.
4. Vanessa had her bat mitzvah on Masada.
“Also I got to split my Torah portion among eight people. So I had the shortest [portion],” Vanessa said. “Actually as someone who kind of liked to perform it was a little bit like, I was like, I could’ve really nailed this.”
5. At 15, Vanessa was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
“I don’t know if it made me funnier, but it was so amazing, how it made everything be OK,” Vanessa said of experiencing comic relief.
6. Despite her illness (for which she finished treatment during the summer before her senior year of high school), Vanessa was still an overachiever.
“It lit this fire under me,” she told the New York Times. “It was important to me that everybody saw me as someone who wasn’t weak.”
Vanessa ended up graduating on time and was prom queen!
7. Vanessa went to the University of Pennsylvania, where she first got into comedy with the all-female troupe “Bloomers.”
8. She interned at “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.”
Check out this video where she talks about the experience with Conan himself:
9. After college, Vanessa moved to Chicago and studied at the Second City!
10. Vanessa became an SNL cast member in the show’s 36th season. She made her SNL debut in host Amy Poehler’s monologue during the season premiere!
11. Arguably, Vanessa’s most iconic bit on SNL was her character “Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy.”
You can learn about how he came to be here:
12. Jewish comedian Billy Crystal once played Jacob’s dad and helped him explain Passover.
BONUS: You can click here to read up on all our fav Passover episodes of TV.
13. Vanessa felt like she had a very special job at SNL!
“Once Andy left, I was like, ‘It’s my job to represent,'” she told Vulture. “I did sometimes feel that way, where I’d be like, ‘We’re doing all this Christmas stuff’ or ‘We’re doing all this Easter stuff,’ and I’m like, ‘There’s so much Jewish stuff happening right now too!’ It’s not that I’m the most religious person in the world, but somebody’s gotta represent.”
14. She once had a “very cool nice Jewish girl hang” with Haim!
Very cool nice Jewish girl hang with @HAIMtheband this week- they are truly the coolest sweetest and best #extraextra
— Vanessa Bayer (@vanessabayer) July 31, 2014
OMG we need the deets on this hang, stat!
15. Vanessa left SNL in 2017.
On her decision to leave, she said, “It felt like it was time for me. I had seven seasons and just felt like it was time for someone else to do that job.”
16. She’s the author of a children’s book called, “How Do You Care for a Very Sick Bear?”
Listen to her discuss the book and her “Make A Wish” wish below:
17. She’s had cameos in multiple hilarious shows like…
“What We Do in the Shadows” as an emotional vampire:
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” as blundering police officer Debbie Fogel:
And in a sketch from “I Think You Should Leave“:
18. Vanessa’s new show, which is based on her childhood illness, is called “I Love That For You.”
She executive produces, writes and stars in it!
You can catch the trailer here: