Saturday Night Live

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SNL redirects here. For other uses of SNL, see SNL (disambiguation).

Saturday Night Live (SNL) is a weekly late-night 90-minute comedy-variety show from NBC which has been broadcast virtually every Saturday night since its debut on October 11, 1975. It is one of the longest-running network entertainment programs in American television history. Each week, the show's cast is joined by a guest host and a musical act.

Originally, the show was called NBC Saturday Night. The reason for this is Howard Cosell was hosting a show on ABC titled Saturday Night Live With Howard Cosell. Ater Cosell's show was cancelled, NBC retitled its show.

The show—broadcast from Studio 8H at the GE Building in New York's Rockefeller Center—has been the launching place for some major American comedy stars of the last thirty years. It was created by Lorne Michaels who, excluding a hiatus from Season 6 through Season 10, has produced and written for the show and remains its executive producer (Jean Doumanian producing most of Season 6, and Dick Ebersol 7–10).

In January 2005, NBC renewed SNL's contract until 2012.

Saturday Night Live logo (2005 Season)
Saturday Night Live logo (2005 Season)


Structure of the show

The show usually follows a standard format. It opens with a sketch, known as the cold opening, which begins without any announcement or titles, is often about politics or other current events, and always ends with someone saying "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!" The show then segues into the opening credits, which usually open with a shot of the Statue of Liberty and a montage of the cast members cut with various locations around the city. The opening credits are voiced-over by long-time NBC announcer Don Pardo. The show's theme music has been re-arranged many times, but always follows the same basic chord patterns.

Next is the opening monologue performed by the guest host(s), often followed by a TV commercial parody. The show continues with more comedy skits (sketches might feature recurring characters, running gags, celebrity impersonations, movie and TV spoofs, and skits parodying the news issues of the day), followed by a performance by the guest musical act. More recent shows have the second act divided by an animated short by Robert Smigel. The news parody segment Weekend Update marks the show's midway point. The second half of the program continues with more sketches, and in most cases a second performance by the musical guest. Some shows also feature filmed segments, often featuring cast members, or it may feature independent film shorts. In a few rare cases, a third musical performance by the week's musical guest is done at the end of the show, but in most instances this is just a goodbye segment by the host and musical guest. Often times, the show "fades to black" while the credits roll, most likely a time-saving measure. Also, in some reruns, shows have been edited to contain a mixture of skits, and do not follow this sequence.



Current repertory players

Current featured players

For a full list of past and present cast, see Saturday Night Live cast.

Notable tenures

Although SNL has an often rapid turnover of supporting players (many of whom have appeared for only one season or less), some performers have had long tenures with the show. Few have broken the eight-year barrier. Among the longest serving repertory players are:

Family connections

The most prominent example of nepotism was Jim Belushi's spot on the show from 1983-85, as a failed attempt to recapture the magic of older brother John Belushi. But even before that, Bill Murray's older brother Brian Doyle-Murray got hired as a writer, then a featured cast member, and finally a regular cast member. When Dan Aykroyd left the show in 1979, he was replaced by a series of short-lived featured players, one of them being his brother Peter Aykroyd.

Other family connections are not as obvious. For instance, long-time writer and sometime actor Jim Downey is former cast member Robert Downey, Jr.'s uncle. Cast member Gilda Radner was briefly married to G.E. Smith, who later became the show's bandleader. Same goes for Michael O'Donoghue who was married to SNL band pianist Cheryl Hardwick. Also, the only married couple to star on SNL simultaneously were Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Brad Hall.

Cast member deaths

Although SNL is well-known as the launchpad for many successful careers, a few cast members have died tragically young. The first of whom was John Belushi who in 1982 died from a lethal injection of cocaine and heroin. Gilda Radner died after a year-long battle with ovarian cancer in May 1989. In August 1994, Danitra Vance died of breast cancer, and in November of that year, Michael O'Donoghue, who long suffered from severe chronic migraine headaches, died of a cerebral hemorrhage. Chris Farley, not unlike his idol, Belushi, also died from an accidental overdose of cocaine and heroin in 1997. Phil Hartman followed just months later in 1998 when his wife, who had been in treatment for her depression, consumed a dangerous combination of alcohol and the prescription drug Zoloft. She shot and murdered Phil that morning as he slept, after months of speculated marriage problems. She later turned the gun on herself. In October 2005, Charles Rocket tragically became the first SNL alum to commit suicide. Local police found him dead with a self-inflicted cut to the throat in his own yard.


SNL received some negative publicity in 1999 when it was leaked that, henceforth, actors joining the show would have to agree in their five-to-six year contract that, upon request, they would act in up to three movies by SNL Films, for fees of US$75,000, US$150,000, and then US$300,000; and also that, upon request, they would leave SNL and act in an NBC sitcom for up to an additional six years. This appeared to be a reaction to former cast members like Adam Sandler and Mike Myers going on to movie stardom.

Some agents and managers characterized these long-term contracts as involuntary servitude, saying that almost any young, undiscovered comic would immediately agree to any given set of exploitative contractual restrictions for the opportunity to launch their careers via the show. NBC publicly defended the new contracts, saying that SNL was doing a service to young comics by launching so many careers.

It was reported in 1999 that the starting salary for SNL cast members was US$5,000 per episode.

The Studio

Since the show's inception, SNL has been filmed from Studio 8H located on Floors 8 and 9 of 30 Rockefeller Plaza (usually nicknamed "30 Rock"). Due to the studio originally being a radio soundstage for Orchestra, the layout of the studio floor and the audience positioning causes some audience members to have an obstructed view of many of the skits.

During the summer 2005 shooting hiatus, crews began renovations on Studio 8H. With its thirty-first season premiere in October 2005, the show began broadcasting in High Definition.

On the August 17, 2005 episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien (also aired on NBC), Conan mentioned hearing furniture being moved around in the studio upstairs. When Conan asked if it was a rival show, someone mentioned that it was Saturday Night Live. Conan jokingly responded, "Saturday Night Live? It'll never make it." Late Night with Conan O'Brien is filmed in Studio 6A, on floors 6 and 7 of "30 Rock". Conan was a writer for SNL from 1988-1991.

The offices of SNL writers, producers, and other staff can be found on the 17th floor of "30 Rock".

Production process

The following is a summary of the process used to produce the show. It is based in part on an August 2000 Writer's Digest article and an April 2004 Fresh Air interview with writer and performer Tina Fey:

  • Monday: The day begins with a topical meeting, identifying the biggest story for the show's opening. This is followed by a free-form pitch meeting with Lorne Michaels and the show's host for the week. According to an October 2004 60 Minutes segment on the show, throughout the week the host has a lot of influence on which sketches get aired. Following the meeting, writers begin to draft the two scripts each must produce.
  • Tuesday: Starting in the afternoon, anywhere from 30 to 45 scripts are written, significantly more than will make it to air. Most writers work through the night. Once a writer's scripts are complete, he or she will often help other writers on their scripts.
  • Wednesday: All scripts get a read-through. After the read-through, the head writer(s) and the producers meet with the host to decide which sketches to work on for the rest of the week, with Lorne Michaels and the host having the final say.
  • Thursday: The surviving sketches are reviewed, word-by-word, by the writing staff as a whole (or in two groups in the case of co-head writers). Some sketches which survived the cut because of their premise but otherwise needed a lot of work are rewritten completely. Others are changed in smaller ways. Thursday is also the day that Weekend Update starts coming together, starting with the news items written by writers dedicated all week to the segment. This is also the first day the crew comes in for rehearsal. The music act is rehearsed as well as some of the larger, more important skits.
  • Friday: the show is blocked (staged). The writer of each skit acts as producer, working with the show's set designers and costumers.
  • Saturday: With the show still far from finalized, the day begins with a run-through, with props, in front of Lorne Michaels. After the run-through, the cast and crew find out which of the sketches are in the dress rehearsal, and which are cut. The writer/producer deals with any changes. This is followed by an 8 p.m. dress rehearsal in front of a live audience, which lasts until 10 p.m. or sometimes later, and which contains around twenty minutes of material which will not make it to the broadcast. Lorne Michaels uses first-hand observation of the audience reaction to the rehearsal, and input from the host, to determine the final round of changes, re-ordering sketches as necessary. The show then begins at 11:35p.m. (11:45 or midnight in some markets).

The status of the show during the week is maintained on a bulletin board. Sketches and other segments are given labels which are put on index cards and put on the board in the order of their performance. The order is based on content as well as production limitations such as camera placement and performer availability. Segments which have been cut are kept to the side of the board. As the broadcast approaches, often the writer/producer discovers the fate of his or her segment only by consulting the bulletin board.

A 60 Minutes report taped in October 2004 depicted the intense writing frenzy that goes on during the week leading up to a show, with crowded meetings and long hours. The report particularly noted the involvement of the guest hosts in developing and selecting the skits in which they will appear.

When it's not live

SNL is one of the few shows on television to have its in- and off-season reruns aired out of its original broadcast sequence. The sequence of the in-season reruns (that is, encore shows that air during the season it originally aired) are usually determined by the episode(s)' popularity. So, for example, if by the midway point of the season in December, a show hosted by Robert DeNiro turned out to be the highest rated show of the season thus far, it would be the first show to be repeated when SNL begins airing its reruns during one of their live breaks. Shows usually air twice during a particular season, but often the highest rated shows of the season have a second encore show towards the end of the off-season.

Encore showings are not always identical to the original broadcast. Frequently, segments that did not work well during the original showing are replaced by alternate performances, or sometimes completely different skits that had been taped at the dress rehearsal that preceded the live broadcast.

From time-to-time, SNL airs compilation shows. Such shows will feature the best of a previous season (consisting of skits and musical segments specially selected by the producers), or of a particular cast member (such as Eddie Murphy or Adam Sandler) or guest (such as Tom Hanks), or centered on a particular theme (for example, Halloween, Christmas, or a major news event). Every election year, SNL airs a "Presidential Bash" featuring both classic and new skits involving Presidents and presidential candidates. The 2000 Bash was notable for having self-deprecating skits taped of the actual candidates (George W. Bush and Al Gore) rather than the players normally assigned to impersonate them.

When it's less than live

Over the years SNL has almost always been broadcast live in the Eastern and Central time zones, in spite of the expletive spoken by Charles Rocket in 1981. Exceptions include shows hosted by Richard Pryor, Sam Kinison, and Andrew Dice Clay, which were broadcast on a seven-second delay.

The episode scheduled for October 25, 1986, hosted by Rosanna Arquette, was not aired until November 8. NBC was broadcasting Game 6 of the 1986 World Series on the evening of October 25; the game entered extra innings, causing that night's broadcast of SNL to be first delayed and then cancelled. The show was performed for the studio audience starting at 1:30 a.m. Eastern Time, recorded, and broadcast two weeks later.

During Eddie Murphy's last season, he was only available for part of the season, so they recorded a number of extra sketches featuring him that were broadcast in episodes he was not available for, according to the book Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live by Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad.

Some live shows may also be altered and edited for the West Coast (where it is broadcast at 11:35 p.m. Pacific Time, three hours after the live broadcast); in some cases recordings of sketches or performances from the program's dress rehearsal have been substituted for the later feed. When Sam Kinison delivered a comic monologue in 1986, NBC removed his plea for the legalization of marijuana from the West Coast broadcast.

Rights to SNL

NBC holds the copyright to every episode of the show made thus far. The syndication rights to the original incarnation (1975–1980) were originally acquired by Filmways Television (later Orion Television and MGM), while the syndication rights to the shows made from 1980 forward (that is, rerun rights beginning two years after its original NBC airings) have been held by Broadway Video, Lorne Michaels' production company.

The home video rights have also been scattered. Warner Home Video originally released several episodes from the original incarnation (1975–1980). Paramount released a "Best Of Eddie Murphy" video compilation in the 1980s (Murphy had a multi-picture deal with Paramount at the time). In the 1990s, Starmaker Entertainment held the video rights. Today, Lions Gate Home Entertainment handles the VHS and DVD releases of SNL under a new license with NBC.

For many years, both Comedy Central and E! Entertainment Television aired SNL reruns under license with Broadway Video and Orion/MGM (respectively). In 2003, full rights reverted completely to NBC, and the E! network acquired the exclusive syndication rights to the series.

The only episodes that have not been included in any syndication package (including the current deal with E!) are the prime-time special at Mardi Gras in New Orleans (the only time the show has originated outside of New York), and the infamous 1990 episode which Andrew Dice Clay hosted.

In Canada, episodes from 1975–1980 are aired in late night programming hours, weeknights on some Global Television Network owned stations such as CHAN and CIII. However, these episodes are edited considerably to fit into to its one hour timeslot, rather than the usual hour and a half.

Due to international licensing restrictions, Saturday Night Live cannot be seen outside North America, with one exception: Sony Entertainment Television (in Latin America).

Infamous moments

Since it is broadcast live, SNL has had several infamous events that were either unplanned or provoked sufficient controversy to receive media coverage. Several hosts and musical guests have also been banned from returning due to their actions during the show.

  • On the second season premiere (September 18, 1976) Chevy Chase, playing Gerald Ford during a Ford/Carter debate sketch, falls over a unpadded podium and injures his testicles in the process. He misses the next two shows.
  • October 30, 1976, John Belushi, accidently gashes Buck Henry on the forehead with a sword during one of his Samurai sketches. Henry has to wear a head bandage for the remainder of the show.
  • On May 10, 1980, writer Al Franken performed the sketch "A Limo for the Lame-o" which mocked NBC president Fred Silverman's failure to improve the network's ratings. NBC executives were furious, and the sketch was thought to be the reason why Franken was not considered to replace Lorne Michaels at the end of the season.
  • On February 21, 1981, Charles Rocket, portraying the gunshot victim in a parody of the "Who Shot J.R." plot on the program Dallas, said, "I'd like to know who the fuck did it," during the live feed of the "goodnights" segment. Afterward, everyone except Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo were fired [1].
  • In 1981, John Belushi invited infamous LA punks Fear to serve as musical guests for an episode that aired on Halloween. The band played some not ready for prime time numbers ("I Don't Care About You" and "Beef Balogna," among others) and invited members of the audience to come up on stage and mosh, prompting Belushi and various members of the crowd to trash the place.
  • On January 18, 1986, the influential alternative group The Replacements appeared on SNL to promote Tim, their first album with Sire Records. In the past, the band had a reputation for indulging in alcohol just before their concerts, and as the show went on the air, the band did not hesitate to consume much of the beer in their backstage dressing room. When it came time for them to perform their first number, "Bastards of Young," they were clearly intoxicated and several cast members were unsure whether they could perform, unfamiliar with their history of performing under such circumstances. Their performance was later described as "transcendent" by music critic Robert Wilonsky, but lead singer Paul Westerberg would further aggravate their relationship with the show when he yelled "fuck" during "Bastards of Young." The band went on to perform one more song, "Kiss Me on the Bus," but at the end of the show the cast members did not bother to interact with them, reportedly because of their behavior. When Lorne Michaels later discovered that The Replacements had also trashed their hotel room, he demanded that Sire Records pay for all damages or else their entire label would be banned from the show. The Replacements are presumably banned regardless, and in subsequent rebroadcasts of this episode, "fuck" is censored out of "Bastards of Young."
  • On the March 15, 1986 episode hosted by Griffin Dunne in a sketch called "Mr. Monopoly", Damon Wayans decided between dress rehearsal and air that his cop character should be played with more flamboyance (akin to his Blane Edwards character from In Living Color). The deviation from the script ultimately resulted in Wayans being fired. Damon Wayans though, would come back to host SNL during the 1994-1995 season.
  • In 1988, a sketch set at a nudist colony used the word penis many times, culminating in a performance of the nudist club anthem, "The Penis Song." [2]
  • In 1990, comedian Andrew Dice Clay was chosen to host; cast member Nora Dunn and scheduled musical guest Sinéad O'Connor boycotted the show in protest, due to perceptions that his jokes were misogynistic.[3]
  • On the October 20, 1990 episode hosted by George Steinbrenner, musical guest The Time performed "Chocolate" as their second song. In the few seconds of silence before the song's 'finale,' lead singer Morris Day quite clearly looks at Jerome Benton and says, "Where the fuck this chicken come from - I thought I ordered ribs!" On subsequent broadcasts, "fuck" is censored, leaving a silent gap in its place.
  • Perhaps the most infamous incident came in 1992, when Sinéad O'Connor appeared on the October 3 episode with host Tim Robbins. In her second set of the show, she performed an a capella version of Bob Marley's "War." At the end, she picked up a picture of Pope John Paul II, ripped it up, and shouted, "Fight the real enemy!" From the booth, Director Dave Wilson immediately turned off the "applause" cue. NBC received many complaints about this within a matter of minutes. At the end of the show, Robbins refused to even thank O'Connor—as is custom—for being the musical guest. O'Connor was given a verbal beating by many other celebrities and public figures. To this day, NBC refuses to lend out the footage of the performance to any media outlet. They have also edited out the incident from the syndicated version of the episode. However, it was finally released in 2003, with an explanation from Lorne Michaels, on Disc 4 of the "Saturday Night Live - 25 Years of Music" DVD set.
  • In 1994 a sketch in which host Alec Baldwin played a pedophile scoutmaster generated more hostile letters than any sketch in the show's history. [4]
  • In 1995, Cheri Oteri slips and says "shit" during a sketch. Surprisingly not much was made from the incident. The cast and crew poked fun at Oteri's mistake during the "goodnights" by making Oteri put money in a swear jar.
  • In 1996, Rage Against the Machine performed "Bulls on Parade" on Saturday Night Live, hanging inverted American flags from their amplifiers in protest of Steve Forbes, who was the host that night. However, the stage crew took the flags off, and cut them down to only one song instead of the normal two.
  • In 1997, during his Weekend Update Norm MacDonald fumbled with his words and then said, "What the fuck was that", not realizing what he had said.[5]
  • In 1998, a TV Funhouse segment entitled "Conspiracy Theory Rock" aired. A parody of the public service Schoolhouse Rock cartoons of the 1970s, this segment vilified the "media-opoly" (buyouts of media stations by large corporations with whom they may have a conflict of interest) and those corporations' alleged use of corporate welfare to pay off and campaign for congressmen. The cartoon aired only in the original broadcast and was edited out of reruns, with Lorne Michaels claiming that the cut was made because he didn't feel the segment "worked comedically." Later, Harry Shearer said in an interview that the move was actually made because "he [Michaels] wanted to keep working at 30 Rock."
  • During the build up to wedding between Tom Green and Drew Barrymore (who got engaged in July 2000), the two frequently joked with the media about when and where they were going to wed. The most notable incident came on November 18, 2000 when Green hosted Saturday Night Live. During the monologue, Green brought Barrymore on stage and teased the audience about the couple marrying at the end of the episode. Ultimately, the stage was set for a wedding before Barrymore in the end, got "cold feet." The SNL incident initially left viewers and the media confused about whether the couple had actually planned to marry on live TV, or were simply staging a publicity stunt. Green ultimately filed for divorce from Barrymore in December 2001 despite being married for less than six months.
  • In 2004, musical guest Ashlee Simpson became the first SNL musical guest to walk offstage when a pre-recorded backing track for the wrong song was accidentally played. To many it appeared that Simpson had been lip synching; the singer later claimed she was using a backing track due to acid reflux. The incident was spoofed on the show the following week, much to Simpson's dismay, and was the subject of widespread coverage in the news and subsequent SNL skits. Simpson returned as a musical guest in October 2005, this time performing without incident.
  • On May 7, 2005 during musical guest System of a Down's performance of "B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Bombs)", guitarist Daron Malakian slipped past a scream of "Fuck, yeah!" (despite the network's censoring of expletives during the song) toward the end.

Banned from the show

  • Louise Lasser, who hosted at the end of the first season on July 24, 1976 was the first host banned by the producers. Lasser was said to be going through personal problems at the time and was reportedly nearly incoherent throughout the broadcast. This episode was such a disappointment to producer Lorne Michaels that it was also barred from syndication until 2002.
  • Charles Grodin was banned, in a way, in October 1977, due to his clumsy performance. Grodin had missed rehearsal, and stumbled his way through the show. Many of his lines were ad-libbed. Grodin has never been asked back to host.
  • On December 17, 1977, Elvis Costello was slated to perform with his group The Attractions as a last-minute replacement for The Sex Pistols, who were unable to obtain passports. NBC and the show's producer Lorne Michaels didn't want the band to perform "Radio, Radio," since the song protests the state of the media. The band defied them by beginning to play their song "Less Than Zero", stopping, with Costello telling the audience that there was no reason to do that song, and telling the band to play "Radio, Radio" instead. Besides the defiance, it also infuriated Michaels because it put the show off schedule. Costello was finally invited to come back and play in 1989, and even reenacted his act of defiance on the 25th Anniversary Show with the Beastie Boys in 1999.
  • Frank Zappa was banned from the show after his hosting stint on October 21, 1978. His acerbic and often misunderstood sense of humor made him more than unpopular with the cast and crew. During his performance, he made a habit of reading cue-cards and mugging the camera. Many cast members (save for John Belushi) stood noticeably far from him during the goodnights.
  • The April 24, 1979, episode of the show hosted by Milton Berle resulted in his banning due to his habit of upstaging other performers, overacting, mugging for the camera, insertion of "classic" comedy bits and his maudlin performance of September Song. This episode was also barred from rebroadcast for over twenty years (until February 2003 when an edited version was shown on E!) as Lorne Michaels felt that the broadcast, and Berle in particular, brought the show down.
  • The 1981 Halloween episode aired on October 31st with Donald Pleasence and musical guest FEAR. By personal favor/request from Fear fan John Belushi the band performed because Belushi promised them a spot after they failed to make the final cut (movie studio refusal) as musical composers in his movie 1941. The band proceeded to play offensive music and bussed in "dancers" (many were in well-known East Coast punk acts). The band used obscene language and the dancers destroyed the set with slam dancing on the stage. The end result was Fear were banned from playing and their actual performance was cut short; as they played "Let's Have a War" the audio and video cut to commerical.
    • In an interview with the drummer from Fear Spit Stix, Stix explained Belushi hadn't been on SNL for years, but "for the show that we were on, he did make an appearance. In the beginning, he's at the urinal and he turns around to the camera, 'Live! From New York!' That was a favor he did for us because during rehearsal some of our crowd - bussed-in slamdancers - tripped over a cable or something, and the union people didn't want any dancers. So as a trade-off, he went up to Grant Tinker's office for us and said, 'I'll make an appearance on the show if the dancers stay.' John was such a generous guy." [6]
  • On November 13, 1982, host Robert Blake, who had been very unsatisfied with the scripts that had been given him throughout the week (at one point, he even crumpled up a script presented to him by cast member and writer Gary Kroeger, and threw it back in his face), was barred from performing on the show again.
  • Another banning of sorts happened exactly one week after Robert Blake's, when the fate of a frequent guest was left in the hands of viewers. Andy Kaufman, who had appeared on the show periodically since its beginning in 1975, was on the chopping block. Viewers had to call a 900 number to decide if Kaufman should be allowed to stay, or be banned for life from the show. Viewers decided to kick him off and Kaufman never returned to the show. In truth, Kaufman pitched the idea to Dick Ebersol weeks before, and Ebersol used the idea after he had a fight with Kaufman. When Kaufman heard the news that he was banned, he felt betrayed.
  • Steven Seagal, who hosted on April 20, 1991, has also been barred from hosting due to his difficulty in working with the cast and crew, who weren't afraid to make note of the occasion almost a year and a half later. During Nicolas Cage's monologue on September 26, 1992, Nicolas is speaking with Lorne backstage and says, "...they probably think I'm the biggest jerk who's ever been on the show!" To which Lorne replied, "No, no. That would be Steven Seagal."
  • Sinéad O'Connor was banned from appearing on SNL again after her October 3, 1992 musical performance (see above, in Infamous Moments)
  • Cypress Hill, who was the musical guest on the October 2, 1993 episode, was banned from appearing on SNL again after DJ Muggs lit up a marijuana joint and the band trashed their instruments while playing their second single "I Ain't Goin' Out Like That."
  • Comedian Martin Lawrence has also been banned from the show. His opening monologue on the February 19, 1994 episode included comments about female genitalia. The monologue has been completely edited out in the syndicated version, with just a graphic describing in general what Lawrence had said. The graphic also told viewers that it was a lively monologue and it almost cost many SNL employees their jobs. [7]
  • The latest person banned was host Adrien Brody (on May 10, 2003). He came out to introduce reggae musician Sean Paul, while wearing Rastafarian attire (including faux dreadlocks). Without any prior notice, Brody began rambling in a Jamaican accent for close to 45 seconds before finally introducing the act incorrectly, misannouncing "Sean Paul" as "Sean John." Michaels is notorious for his dislike of improvisation and unannounced performances (as was also the case in Costello's incident), and therefore was furious with Brody for not obtaining clearance before performing this "monologue."

Frequent hosts

The following performers have hosted SNL at least five times:

Several special episodes of SNL have been compiled and aired that were "best of" episodes of several of these hosts, including Steve Martin, Christopher Walken, Tom Hanks, and Alec Baldwin.

Last-minute replacements

  • Nick Nolte was scheduled to host the December 11, 1982 Christmas episode, but he became too ill to host, so his 48 Hrs. co-star (and SNL cast member), Eddie Murphy took over as host. He became the only cast member to host while still a regular, a choice reportedly upsetting to his fellow cast members. Murphy opened the show with the phrase, "Live from New York, It's the Eddie Murphy Show!"
  • Joe Pesci was originally supposed to host on May 9, 1992, but had to back out at the very last minute, replaced by Tom Hanks. The show made light of the switch by having Hanks deliver a monologue that appeared to have been written for Pesci, complete with plugs of all of Pesci's recent films and a parody of the "Whaddya mean I'm funny" scene from Goodfellas. Pesci hosted five months later.
  • David Letterman was originally supposed to host the 1992–93 season finale, but backed out due to his problems with NBC. He was replaced by Kevin Kline.
  • Dana Carvey was supposed to host for the first time in April 1994, but he had to back out at the last minute. He was replaced by Emilio Estevez. Carvey finally hosted six months later.
  • Martin Short was originally supposed to host the 1994 season premiere but backed out at the last minute. He was replaced by Steve Martin.
  • Jim Carrey was originally supposed to host the 1999 Christmas show to promote Man on the Moon. He had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts and was replaced by his Man on the Moon co-star Danny DeVito.
  • Ray Romano was originally supposed to host the show for the second time in April 2002 but had to drop out due to a busy schedule. He was replaced by The Rock.

Recurring characters and sketches

Main article: Recurring Saturday Night Live characters and sketches

Below is a short list of some of SNL's most popular recurring sketches.

Movies based on SNL skits

The early days of SNL spawned a few movies and low-budget films. However, it wasn't until the huge success of Wayne's World that Broadway Video (Lorne Michaels' production company) became encouraged to feature more film spinoffs, with several popular 1990s sketch characters (and a few unlikely ones) becoming adapted into movies. Producers tried their luck with a revival of 1970s characters The Coneheads, followed by movies based around Pat, Stuart Smalley, The Ladies Man, The Butabi Brothers and Mary Katherine Gallagher. Some did moderate business but others bombed disastrously — notably It's Pat and Stuart Saves His Family, with the latter losing US$15 million despite good reviews.


  • Steve Martin was a frequent guest host of the program and even had popular recurring characters. However, contrary to popular belief, Martin was never a regular member of the cast.
  • Mike Myers based his character Dieter, host of the avant-garde German TV talk show 'Sprockets', after a real person, a student whom Myers met in art college. The real Dieter would often say things like "I once had a course where we had to touch tapioca, styrofoam and monkeys. Michael, perhaps we can go to the zoo and touch monkeys." (thus giving rise to the TV Dieter's catchphrase "Would you like to touch my monkey?")
  • A film version of 'Sprockets' was planned, but abandoned after Mike Myers became dissatisfied with the script. It would have involved Dieter travelling to the USA to rescue Klaus, his pet monkey.
  • Although Darrell Hammond holds the record for longest tenure of a repertory player with 10 consecutive seasons (about 200 episodes), Al Franken has appeared in 12 seasons (1977–80) & (1985–94), with about 140 episodes as a featured player.
  • The recurring character that had appeared the most is Don Novello's Father Guido Sarducci with a whopping 31 appearances over the course of 17 years. Novello was not a cast member for most of these appearances and the Sarducci character was not even created specifically for the show.
  • Morwenna Banks holds the record for the shortest tenure of a repertory player, with only four episodes (April–May 1995). Two featured players appeared for only a single episode: Laurie Metcalf and Emily Prager, on April 11, 1981, the last episode of a strike-shortened season.
  • John Belushi called in a personal favor to have his favorite band Fear perform. The band invited dancers who destroyed the set live on the 1981 Halloween episode and the singer Lee Ving used foul language. For the personal favor Belushi took part in the show, which he left years before.
  • Eddie Murphy is the only person to have hosted the show while still a cast member; this occurred during season 8 (December 11, 1982), when Murphy filled in for a sick Nick Nolte.
  • The cold opening occasionally varies from the traditional "Live From New York...", either to commemorate the season number (usually during season premieres) or to follow the consistency of a certain sketch. In 1981, the traditional cold opening was done away with entirely (returning the next season).
  • Dan Aykroyd and Michael McKean are the only performers to appear as cast members, hosts, and as musical guests. While a cast member, Aykroyd appeared as Elwood Blues from The Blues Brothers; McKean appeared as David St. Hubbins from This Is Spinal Tap in May 1984, hosted six months later, and became a cast member in 1993.
  • Harry Shearer and Brian Doyle-Murray are the only two cast members to work under both Lorne Michaels and Dick Ebersol. Shearer in 1979 and 1984, and Doyle-Murray in 1979 and 1981. In addition, Doyle-Murray also worked under one-season producer Jean Doumanian as a writer.
  • Michael McKean and Billy Crystal are the only two people to join the cast after hosting the show.
  • 18 former cast members have later come back to host the show. Curiously, none of them have been female. (Gilda Radner was scheduled to host in 1988 but was called off due to a writers strike, and she died the following year).
  • The eldest host was Ruth Gordon, at age 80, in the episode aired on January 22, 1977.
  • The youngest host was Drew Barrymore, at age 7, in the episode aired on November 20, 1982.
  • The longest span of time between two hosting spots goes to Madeline Kahn who returned 18 years after her 1977 spot to host in 1995.
  • The eldest cast member is Darrell Hammond, who is currently 50. (1995–Present).
  • The youngest cast member was Anthony Michael Hall at age 17 (19851986).
  • Kenan Thompson is the only cast member to date born after SNL's premiere in 1975.
  • The highest rating audience (according to Nielsen) was for the episode aired on October 13, 1979 (Steve Martin/Blondie).
  • Guest hosts who had previously auditioned for the show earlier in their careers only to be turned down include: Paul Reubens, John Goodman, Jim Carrey (1980), Lisa Kudrow (1990) and Steve Carell (1995).
  • During the early years, the format of the show was not completely set in stone. For example, one early broadcast, hosted by Paul Simon, included a reunion with his former musical partner, Art Garfunkel. Only a few comedy sketches were featured during the episode, with others dropped in order to allow Simon and Garfunkel to perform an extended musical set. On another occasion, Beat generation author William S. Burroughs appeared on the program and read passages from his books, to mixed response.
  • Prior to his stint on the show, Dennis Miller won a Gabriel Award for his work on "Punchline," a children's TV show. This is somewhat ironic, since Miller is known for his overuse of profanity.
  • George Carlin was the show's first host. Instead of taking part in skits, Carlin performed snippets of his stand up comedy routines.
  • The first episode in which The Blues Brothers appeared in was hosted by Carrie Fisher. In the 1980 movie "The Blues Brothers," Fisher played Jake Blues' ex-fiance, who tried numerous times to kill him and Elwood.
  • Desi Arnaz was a memorable guest host on February 21, 1976. He performed with his son, Desi Arnaz, Jr.

See also

Wikicities has an SNL Wikicity at SNLWiki

External links

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