Saunders attended the Central School for Speech and Drama in London. There she met Dawn French, and the two performed together after graduation, working the festival, cabaret, and stand-up circuits. They were a central part of the alternative comedy scene in the early 1980s. It was around this time that both then worked with comedy troupe The Comic Strip, where they performed with many of the comedians who were to become their generation's leading comedy performers. She and French then created French & Saunders, a popular sketch comedy show for the BBC.
Jennifer Saunders came to international attention for her sitcom Absolutely Fabulous, which she created, co-wrote, and in which she starred as irresponsible booze-hound Edina Monsoon.
Jennifer Saunders is married to fellow comedian Adrian Edmonson, with whom she has three daughters.