During its long run, the show has filled our living rooms with incredible characters, and hilarious moments and dealt with some unbelievable scandals. Read on to discover all the amazing things you never knew about SNL.
Eddie Murphy Returns to SNL After 35 Years With an Epic Performance
On December 21st, 2019, Eddie Murphy came back to host and perform on Saturday Night Live after 35 years. And it was epic. Apart from bringing back some of his most beloved SNL characters from way back, like Gumby, Buckwheat, and Mister Robinson, Murphy shared the stage with comedy legends like Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan, and Dave Chappelle. In a one-of-a-kind SNL episode, in which Lizzo was the hit musical guest, Murphy joked about leaving the show 30 years ago, having a 10th child, and even made a crack at Bill Cosby. And he even had a slip and swore on national TV!
"If you would have told me 30 years ago that I would be this boring-stay at-home house dad and Bill Cosby would be in jail, even I wouldn't have taken that bet. Who is America’s dad now?!" Murphy said in a spot-on impression of Cosby. Many die-hard SNL fans know that Eddie Murphy joined the show's cast back in the 1980s, and would remain one of SNL's most popular characters until 1984. But a bad joke from David Spade about Murphy's failing career kept him away from the show for nearly four decades.
Alec Baldwin Is the Host with the Most... Appearances
Holding the record for the most times hosting in the show’s history, Alec Baldwin has been SNL’s host a whopping 17 times. He has done such a great job that the show’s creator, Lorne Michaels, has made him an honorary cast member and given him an open invitation to come in and host whenever the schedule allows it.
Michaels has also issued this invitation to the eccentric and hysterically funny actor, Christopher Walken. Baldwin has made waves in the past couple of years with his recurring role on the show as President Donald Trump.
Steven Seagal Was Banned from the Show for Being the Worst
The creator of 'SNL', Lorne Michaels, has famously stated that Steven Seagal was the “worst host ever.” He was generally rude and unprofessional and was disliked by the cast, crew, writers, and even the audience.
He has been added to the 'SNL' blacklist and will not appear on the show ever again. Other blacklisted hosts include Martin Lawrence and Adrien Brody.
Some Celebs Weren’t Cast and Went to Bigger and Better Things
Some actors, who are big stars today, did not get cast on Saturday Night Live, including Jim Carrey, Steve Carrel, John Goodman, and Kevin Hart. We can all agree that these comic actors went on to have amazing careers without SNL. The most memorable story, however, was when Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow both auditioned for the show and were not cast.
Luckily, not long after, the two were cast in the biggest sitcom in the history of the world, 'Friends'. They went on to both fortune and fame from the show, and since, Kudrow has famously said, “Thank God I didn’t get Saturday Night Live!”
The Show Only Exists Because Of Johnny Carson
Legendary Tonight Show host, Johnny Carson, asked NBC in 1974 to stop airing reruns of his program on the weekend because he wanted to save them for some extra time off during the week. The network then turned to Lorne Michaels and asked him to develop something new for the suddenly empty Saturday night slot.
He came up with 'Saturday Night Live, and the rest is history. Michaels pitched the show to cast member Laraine Newman as 'Monty Python' meets '60 Minutes'.
It Wasn’t Always Called Saturday Night Live
When the show premiered in 1975 on NBC, it was simply called 'Saturday Night'. This was because rival network ABC was airing a show at the time called, “Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell.” When that show went off the air, NBC swiftly paid for the rights, and in 1977, the name of the show was officially changed.
If you’ve ever wondered, Chevy Chase had the honor of being the first to say the famous line, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”
Successful Movies Have Come Out of It
Some of the sketches on SNL have been so successful, that hit movies have been based on them. The most famous examples include 'The Blues Brothers', 'Night at the Roxbury', and 'The Coneheads'. Those films entertained audiences and made a lot of money during the 80s and 90s.
The film that broke the box office, however, was the stoner comedy 'Wayne’s World', invented by SNL comedians Mike Myers and Dana Carvey. The biggest SNL movie flop was 'It’s Pat', which received a rare zero on Rotten Tomatoes.
SNL Was Almost Cancelled... Twice
Following the end of the show’s tenth season, NBC made the decision to cancel 'Saturday Night Live', and would only consider leaving it on the air if Lorne Michaels agreed to return. Luckily, he did, and the show was safe for another ten years.
When season 20 rolled around, many cast members left the show for various reasons, including Mike Meyers, Janeane Garafalo, Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Morwenna Banks, Ellen Cleghorne, Chris Elliott, Laura Kightlinger, Michael McKean, Jay Mohr, and Kevin Nealon. NBC again considered pulling the plug, but the show kept going with new cast members filling the hole.
The Writers Can Be Incredibly Lazy
Following her departure from the show, Tina Fey went on to write the bestselling book 'Bossypants', which in addition to other things, documents her time on SNL. In the book, Fey reveals that some of the writers were so lazy and gross, that they wouldn’t get up and use the bathroom, they kept jars of urine in their offices instead.
When you read some of her descriptions, you can quickly see where her inspiration for the wacky writers in '30 Rock' came from.
Betty White Was the Oldest Host Ever
Lorne Michaels wanted Betty White to host the show on numerous occasions, but her schedule was always too busy. She finally got her shot in 2010, at the impressive age of 88 years old, thanks to an extensive Facebook campaign in which people called for her to host.
There was some concern that White would have a hard time coping with the fast-paced demands of the show, but she proved she was just as tough as the women she played, and nailed it. She was a hit with viewers and other cast members.
SNL Takes on Wonder Woman
There was a lot of anticipation for Wonder Woman Gal Gadot’s appearance as host of 'SNL'. She had just starred in the biggest blockbuster of the summer and her film was the highest-grossing female-led superhero movie of all time. The expectations were high, but so was the payoff.
Gadot shared an epic make-out session with an openly gay cast member, Kate McKinnon, as part of a skit that wasn’t afraid to ask questions about Wonder Woman’s sexuality. The kiss made headlines all over the world and is just another incredible moment that will go down in the history books of 'Saturday Night Live'.
A Surprise Hit
'Wayne’s World' was almost finished before it began. When Mike Myers was getting his start on SNL, he brought the idea of Wayne’s character to some of the show’s writers, including Conan O’Brien. The writers didn’t think much of the character and told Myers he could do better, but he decided to write the sketch anyway.
O’Brien remembers thinking, “This poor kid is going to have to learn the hard way.” The sketch was allowed to air but scheduled in the unpopular final slot. That did not stop it from becoming a fan favorite and a huge hit.
Chris Rock Was Fired for Checking Out the Competition
Famous comedian Chris Rock joined the cast in 1990 and was on the show for three years. He was then let go because he had expressed an interest in another sketch comedy show, “In Living Color.” When Rock was on the show again in 2019, he made light of his firing in a song with Adam Sandler.
He Sang, "I was fired by NBC, I went on 'In Living Color,' three weeks later they took it off TV." At least Rock could commiserate with Sandler, who was also let go from the show.
Drew Barrymore Was the Youngest Host Ever
At just seven years old, Drew Barrymore was already a big Hollywood star, after achieving fame in the movies 'E.T.' and 'Firestarter'. Her celebrity status led her to become the youngest host in SNL history. Her performance on the show made it one of the most watched episodes ever, and therefore it is no surprise that she has gone back to host five more times over the years.
The actress has also made cameos on several episodes and been impersonated by cast members Kristen Wiig, Rachel Dratch, and fellow actresses Kate Hudson and Katie Holmes.
Damon Wayans Was Fired for Taking a Creative License
Crew member Damon Wayans was on the show for only one season. He quickly grew bored with the parts that were offered to him and decided to liven up a sketch by making the police officer he was playing flamboyantly gay. The problem is, he did not ask the producers beforehand.
His little stunt got him fired and Wayans told The Weekender, "I knew I was going to get fired for it. Lorne did the right thing." Seems like the bridges weren’t completely burned, however, because he was asked back to the show two months later to perform some stand-up.
Lorne Michaels Quit the Show and Returned Five Years Later
After five seasons, in 1980, Saturday Night Live creator and producer, Lorne Michaels, left the show and did not return until 1985. According to Michaels, he would not even watch the show during that time.
He told James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales in their book, 'Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live: “It was very hard for me, in retrospect, to be relieved of the show was an emotional withdrawal that took me, truly, years to get a perspective on.”
Chris Kattan Left the Show Due to an Injury
Chris Kattan was on Saturday Night Live for seven years. He left the show in 2003 and kind of dropped off the map. When he appeared on Dancing with the Stars in 2017, he revealed that his upper-body stiffness was due to an injury he sustained while on the show.
Apparently, he broke his neck while doing a stunt in a sketch about the Golden Girls. The incident left him unable to do physical comedy and he has since undergone four surgeries.
George Carlin Was the First Host
Saturday Night Live’s first episode in 1975 was hosted by comedian George Carlin. He was stand-up comedy’s biggest star at the time and brought his very particular brand of satire to the show. Carlin did not take part in any of the skits but did stand-up segments between them.
The skits included one in which Jim Belushi goes to a tutor to learn English, but everything he learns is about wolverines, and another in which an insurance company offers a grieving family a new dad to replace the old one. The musical guests for the first episode were Billy Preston and Janis Ian.
SNL Saw into the Future
In 1975, George Carlin did a sketch that made fun of both advertisers and consumers, it was a commercial for a three-blade razor. They named it the Triple Trac Razor Blade, and the audience got a real hoot out of it, considering that in the 70s, people felt that the two-bladed razor was excessive. The skit ended with the announcer saying, “The Triple-Trac. Because you’ll believe anything.”
Apparently, we do, because in the 1990s Gillette launched the Mach 3, and it was a big hit. We wonder if Carlin or the show got a percentage of the profits.
Ad Prices Are Higher Than Ever
Since Trump has taken office, Saturday Night Live’s popularity has been on the rise. More people watching means those commercial slots are now worth a whole lot more. If a 30-second slot just a couple of years ago cost roughly $90,000, it can now cost between $100,000 and a whopping $300,000!
In order to keep viewers from skipping commercials and just watching clips online, 'SNL' has been collaborating with major players like Verizon and Apple to create custom ads that intend to keep us glued to our seats.
Larry David Quit but Returned the Following Day
In the 1980s, Larry David wrote for SNL, but he hated working there and was always fighting to get his sketches on the air. One Saturday, five minutes before the show went live, David went to Dick Ebersol, who was a producer at the time, and announced, “I’ve had it. I quit.”
David soon realized his mistake and the money he would be losing and decided to simply show up for work on Monday as if the incident had never occurred. It worked, and he continued writing on the show for the rest of the season. Later, when he was working on 'Seinfeld', he used the event as the basis for an episode.
SNL Has Had Many Untimely Deaths
Eight Saturday Night Live cast members have suffered untimely deaths: Chris Farley and John Belushi both overdosed on illegal substances.
Gilda Radner, Danitra Vance, and Tom Davis died from severe medical conditions. Michael O’Donoghue suffered from a disease, Phil Hartman died mysteriously, and Charles Rocket took his own life.
Fear's Performance Nearly Caused A Riot
John Belushi was very taken with the punk band Fear and lobbied for them to be the Saturday Night Live musical guest on the 1981 Halloween episode. The band’s performance included a group of slam dancers, which the director was against until Belushi agreed to be one of them.
The band’s lead singer, Lee Ving, was booed by the crowd for saying, "It's great to be in New Jersey", and the slam dancers left $20,000 worth of damage to the set in what is described as practically a stage riot. Unsurprisingly, Fear has not since been invited back to the show.
Donald Trump's Controversial Appearance
President of the United States, Donald Trump, appeared on the show for the second time during the 2016 presidential campaign. NBC was approached by Latino advocacy groups who asked them to cancel his appearance because of the remarks he had made about Mexican immigration. Protesters stood outside Trump Tower and 30 Rockefeller Plaza for days before the show with “Dump Trump” signs.
DeportRacism.com even offered $5,000 in cash to any audience member that would heckle Trump and call him a racist during his monologue. The protests were unsuccessful, and Trump did the show, which received extremely high ratings but was slammed by critics.
Eddie Murphy's Comedy Came from a Painful Experience
When Eddie Murphy joined the show at 19 years old, he brought in a new perspective and a lot of emotional material about prejudice in America. His sketches “Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood” and “White Like Me,” gave the audience an honest, yet funny glimpse into the injustices.
His comedic voice soon made Murphy a star, but he still couldn’t hail a cab at the end of the show. His white cast members had to do it for him because, at the time, taxis refused to stop for a young black man at night.
Tina Fey, Famous for Playing Sarah Palin, Would Not Stand Next to Her
Comedian and former cast member, Tina Fey, has shared the SNL term “Sneaker Uppers” with the world. According to her, it refers to “when a famous person sneaks up behind the actor who plays them and pretends to be mad about it or be in on the joke”. During the 2008 election, Fey, who had already left the show and was staring in '30 Rock', was brought back in to play Palin and dreaded the “sneaker upper” she knew was coming.
She made it clear to Lorne Michaels that she refused to share the screen with Palin because she did not want to be seen as endorsing her. Palin ended up being filmed backstage with Michaels, but the episode was still one of the highest-rated in the show’s history.
Everyone Wanted to Play Barack Obama
After Barack Obama was elected president, auditions were held for an actor to play him on the show. Several actors who have since become big stars tried out, namely Donald Glover, Wyatt Cenac, and Jordan Peele. In the end, the role went to Fred Armisen, and when he left the show, the role was picked up by Jay Pharoah.
Donald Glover has since found fame in music and acting, and won a Golden Globe for his work on the TV series, 'Atlanta'. Jordan Peele has become an award-winning screenwriter and director.
Rage Against the Machine Hung Upside Down Flags
In April of 1996, Rage Against the Machine was the musical guest on the show. On the same night, 'SNL' was hosted by billionaire and presidential candidate, Bill Forbes. The band wanted to protest against Forbes’ politics and decided to hang two upside-down American flags on their amplifiers.
The flags were removed right before the band went on and were not seen by the viewers at home. Rage Against the Machine was then asked to leave, which allegedly prompted bassist Tim Commerford to storm into Forbes’ dressing room while throwing pieces of a torn flag. They were never invited back.
Jenny Slate Dropped the F-Bomb
You may not even remember that Jenny Slate used to be on 'SNL' because even during her time on the show she did not appear in many episodes. That is because she dropped the F-bomb on her very first sketch. It was called “Biker Chick Chat” and it was written by Slate, and while performing it, the word just slipped out.
You can immediately see that she knows what she’s done and regrets it. She wasn’t fired right away but remained on the show until the end of the season, and then her contract was not renewed. The worst part was that she found out that she had been fired by reading it online, according to Last Night On.
Even Popular Cast Members Were Fired
Adam Sandler and Chris Farley, who were two of SNL’s biggest stars, and were immensely popular with the fans, were suddenly let go – on the same day. Sandler said he had no idea that they were on their way out until Farley ran into his office shouting, “We’re getting fired!”.
Apparently, Sandler still doesn’t know why they were let go, but the reason probably has something to do with the low ratings the show had at the time.
John Belushi Thought Women Weren’t Funny
Comedy legend John Belushi openly admitted that he did not like working with female cast members. Jane Curtin told The Huffington Post that Belushi didn’t want to take part in any sketches that were penned by the show’s female writers.
Although he wasn’t the only one who didn’t want to work with the women on the show, Belushi was the worst of them and actually stated that "women are just fundamentally not funny." Curtin also said of him that he "felt as though it was his duty to sabotage pieces written by women.”
The Host Checked Out Early
On one occasion, a host accidentally walked off the stage a minute and a half before the final skit was over. Former cast member Nasim Pedrad told Radar Online the story, "...The sketch awkwardly faded to black in the middle of one of our lines, and the whole thing was a mess. My favorite part was the host sweetly came up to me during the goodbyes and was like, ‘Hey, we did it!’ And I did not have the heart to tell him that we certainly did not.”
Although Pedrad was discreet enough not to reveal the name of the host, Reddit users strongly suspect this incident took place during the sketch in which Bruce Willis appeared as a centaur.
'SNL' has dealt with accusations of plagiarism more than once over the years. In 2015, comedian Ben Zweig claimed that they had "ripped off" a sketch he wrote for Comedy Hack Day about "Settl", a dating app for "sad people." Seems like he wasn’t that angry though, saying he would forgive them if they gave him a "handwritten apology on a napkin that Ryan Gosling has breathed on."
Other writers were not so understanding. Ian Gary, who claimed that the sketch "River Sister" about Tina Turner impersonators was stolen from him in 2014, went on Facebook and wrote, “Over the years I have seen MANY, MANY sketches flat out stolen from my friends by Saturday Night Live. Nearly verbatim."
Musical Performances Are Not Always Live
Although many of the musical performances on the show are, in fact, broadcast live, some have been lip-synched and a few have even been taped in advance. Ashlee Simpson became infamous for the lip-synching incident of 2004.
The singer was starting her second performance when the track for the first song she sang was accidentally played. Simpson didn’t know what to do and walked off the stage, while the show quickly went to a commercial break.
Most and Least Favorite
In the book, 'Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, we discovered who was the most respected and liked members of the cast and who were the least, except for Chevy Chase, who you already know was the worst.
The most beloved was Chris Rock and Bob Odenkirk, although their time on the show was short. Also highly regarded were, Adam Sandler, Dan Aykroyd, and Gilda Radner. The most disliked were Janeane Garofalo and Nora Dunn.
Salaries and Sitcoms
As you’ve probably noticed, crew members don’t typically last very long on 'SNL', which is not surprising, since NBC only pays them $60,000 a year. Their salaries increase over time, and Will Ferrell holds the record for being the highest-paid crew member of all time, getting $350,000 in 2001.
Another way to increase their salary is by getting sketches on the air, but they have to write them themselves. The NBC contract is also quite restrictive, if the network offers them a sitcom, they can refuse up to two times but must agree to the third offer.
John Mulaney Plays Tricks on Bill Hader on Weekend Update
One of the reasons Bill Hader’s character, Stefon, is so popular is that he often breaks character during the Weekend Update. This happens because his co-writer, and co-creator of the character, John Mulaney, likes to mess with him by changing the jokes at the last minute.
Stefon often puts his hands to his mouth, this was not originally part of the sketch but happened because Hader was trying to hide his laughter from the jokes he was reading for the very first time. Andy Samberg, who is their friend, would stand by the camera with arms folded, shaking his head, and also try to throw Hader off his game.
Chris Parnell Was Fired Twice
Larry David has nothing on Chris Parnell, who was actually fired from the show on two separate occasions. He was fired in 2001, due to his lack of confidence, and describes the experience as “devastating.” He was invited back, however, on the next season, and was only fired for the second time in 2006.
In that instance, the show was making a $10 million budget cut, so they decided that Parnell and fellow cast members, Rachel Dratch and Horatio Sanz, had to go.
Sarah Silverman Was Fired by Fax
In 1993, Sarah Silverman became an SNL cast member. She spent her first season perfecting her impersonations of Joan Rivers and Cher. Sadly, only one of the sketches she wrote made it to rehearsal, but none made it to air. Unsurprisingly, at least for her, she was let go at the end of the season.
The funniest part was that she claims she received the announcement via fax. The higher-ups at Saturday Night Live have really got to work on their people skills.
Lorne Michaels Got into It with Louis CK
When Louis C.K. was at the top of his game, he was invited to host Saturday Night Live for the second time. During his appearance, he wanted to do a 12-minute monologue on the show, although usually, monologues are only 5 or 6 minutes long.
Lorne Michaels told him to shorten it and Louis C.K. became livid, asking Michaels what would happen if he just did the monologue the way he wanted to. Michaels responded by saying: "Then we’ll know that you’re very undisciplined and unprofessional." The two eventually managed to come to an agreement and settled on a 7-minute monologue.
Darrell Hammond Was on SNL for 14 Seasons
Former cast member Darrell Hammond was on the show for the longest time period, from 1995 to 2009. When he left the show, Hammond was 53, and the oldest cast member in SNL history.
During his incredibly long run, he impersonated an impressive 107 different celebrities, but the one he did the most and was most famous for was Bill Clinton. Since 2014, Hammond has been back on the show, but this time as the announcer.
One Sketch Wonder
Actress Louise Lasser was allegedly the first person to be banned from the show. She was invited to host at the end of the show’s first season in 1976. She started rambling about her fear of appearing on live television in the opening monologue and then locked herself in her dressing room. The only person who managed to get her to come out was Chevy Chase, but even then, the show did not go well.
Lasser, for her part, claims she wasn’t banned, there were simply disagreements about the content. She said, "They wrote sketches for me and I didn’t want to do them, because they were salacious — you know how Saturday Night Live is."
SNL: The Movie
In the late 1980s, someone thought it would be a good idea to make an SNL movie. The fact that every episode is already feature-length did not stop the writers, including Conan O’Brien, Robert Smigel, Al Franken, and Greg Daniels, from creating a script titled The Saturday Night Live Movie.
Split side claims the movie was intended as a full-length feature featuring sketches about going to the movies. Seems like Lorne Michaels didn’t love the idea, because he pulled the plug on the project soon after returning to the show.
Steve Martin Was the Show’s Most Invited Guest
Although he never became an actual member of the cast, Steve Martin has appeared on Saturday Night Live many times. He leads the chart in a number of times hosting, second only to Alec Baldwin, and is the only person to have hosted a season premiere, season finale, and a holiday episode.
Martin and former cast member, Gilda Radner, were extremely close, and he was scheduled to host on the day that he heard that she had passed away from ovarian cancer. He opted not to perform the opening monologue, and instead, with tears in his eyes, opened with an old sketch in which he and Radner were dancing as Fred Astaire and Cyd Charise.
The Eddie Murphy- David Spade Incident
In the early 80s, Eddie Murphy was one of SNL’s most famous names. He left the show in 1984 to pursue a film career and was a box-office sensation. His success tapered off in the mid-90s and David Spade, who was on 'SNL' at the time, made a crack about Murphy on the show.
He showed his picture and said, “Look, children, it’s a falling star!” Many people found the joke to be funny, but Eddie Murphy was not one of them. Spade talks about the incident in his memoir 'Almost Interesting', saying Murphy called him and started yelling, saying, “David Spade, who the f*ck do you think you are?!!” and more. The two have since made up.
Andy Samberg Quit Without A Word
An immensely popular cast member, Andy Samberg, surprised fans, cast, and crew when he abruptly left the show in 2012 after seven years. He wasn’t moving on to a new project and didn’t even tell his fellow cast members about the decision.
When asked about it later he explained that the show was killing him, saying, “What it came down to was I just couldn’t physically and emotionally do it anymore.”
One Celebrity Missed Hosting Due to A Hangover
A memorable moment took place in season eight, when Eddie Murphy, who was a cast member, was forced to take on hosting duties because Nick Nolte, who was supposed to host, had partied too hard the night before and was too hungover to go on.
Seems like Murphy was happy about the opportunity, because at the end of his opening monologue he proudly said, “Live from New York, it’s the Eddie Murphy Show!” For obvious reasons, this did not go over well with his fellow cast and crew.
Cast Member Kenan Thompson Was Born After the Show Began
Kenan Thompson, born in 1978, was the first SNL cast member to have been born after the show began, and he beat out his co-star Kel Mitchell in the auditions to join the cast. The two starred together in the sitcom 'Kenon and Kel'. At 17, Anthony Michael Hall was the youngest cast member, narrowly beating Eddie Murphy, who was 19 when he joined the show.
At 21, Abby Elliot was the youngest female cast member and also the first child of a former cast member. Her father, Chris Elliott, was on the 1994-1995 season.
Nora Dunn Refused to Appear in An Episode
Crew member Nora Dunn boycotted the episode in which “The Diceman”, Andrew Dice Clay, was the host because she felt that his stand-up was hateful to women. Lorne Michaels has since stated that Dunn told the press about her decision before telling him, which was the beginning of the end for her on 'SNL'.
She has since talked about her experiences on the show, saying, “Saturday Night Live is why I have a name, but it also has its own baggage.”
Chevy Chase Was Not Well Liked
Although Chevy Chase was one of SNL’s original cast members, he has been banned from ever hosting the show again. Apparently, when Chase was in the studio, he was rude and insulting to members of both cast and crew and offered loud and unsolicited opinions about other cast members. One time, he memorably got into a fistfight with Bill Murray before the taping of the show began.
Good thing Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi were on set to break things up. Terry Sweeney, who is openly gay, had to deal with homophobic comments from Chase and Will Ferrell has stated that Chevy Chase was the worst host during his time on the show.
Cypress Hill is Banned for Life
Cypress Hill appeared on SNL in 1993, and as they were walking on stage, DJ Muggs lit up a joint. He told the crowd “Yo, New York City, they said I couldn’t light my joint, well, you know what I’m saying? I ain’t going out like that!”
The rebellious act may have gone over well with the fans, but less so with the producers and NBC. They have been banned from the show for life.
Sinead O'Connor Caused Quite A Stir
The late singer Sinead O’Connor was the show’s musical guest in October 1992. She shocked audiences and producers alike when she took out a picture of Pope John-Paul II in the middle of her song and tore it to shreds. The act was meant as a political statement against the crimes being perpetrated by the Catholic Church.
She was banned from the show for life, and her career suffered, but these days many people feel that she was misunderstood. She has since said, "It's not the man, obviously—it's the office and the symbol of the organization that he represents."
Jason Sudeikis Didn’t Even Say Goodbye
Sudeikis started as a writer on SNL in 2003, and became a full-time cast member in 2005, jumpstarting what would become a very successful career as a Hollywood comedy sweetheart. Who could forget the fantastic ‘Two A-Holes’ sketches that became an instant hit and put him on the map?
Together with Andy Samberg, Bill Hader, and the legendary Kristen Wiig, Sudeikis became a lead character on SNL for the next eight seasons. Shockingly after 10 years, Jason Sudeikis left. There wasn’t a ceremonial ‘last sketch’, a special event on set, a tearjerking speech, nada! Talk about a cold shoulder.
Bill Hader Really Didn’t Like Justin Bieber
Back in 2013, Justin Bieber was a musical guest and host of SNL, and apparently, nobody was pleased, especially Bill Hader. The comedian said Bieber had been the worst guest to ever appear on the show and having to do a sketch with him was a nightmare.
Bieber showed up with an entourage of about 20 guys so they could hold his food, and drinks and basically be his nannies. Bear in mind the backstage was a very small space and having 20 guys crammed in there made it hard for anybody to move around.
Pharoah’s Rant About Female Cast Member Was an Accident
In 2013 Jay Pharoah had no idea that he was talking to a reporter from TheGrio when he started an intense rant about the fact that SNL had a lack of Black women cast members.
“They need to pay attention”, Pharoah said about SNL, talking about Darmirra Brunson, a sitcom actress that the show considered hiring. He continued, “Why do I think she should be on the show? Because she’s Black first of all, and she’s really talented."
Tina Fey Gets Thanked by the Clintons for her Comment
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were a force of nature in the history of SNL. They didn’t mince words and didn’t care who had a problem with it. Back in 2008, the two legendary comediennes did an unforgettable “Weekend Update” where Fey yelled out “b@tc% is the new black!” and then shortly after, “b@tc$es get stuff done”.
She was talking about Hillary Clinton and the comment made Hillary and Bill Clinton so happy that they both called Fey personally to thank her for the mention.
Molly Shannon Got Beat Up
Back in 1995, Shannon created and portrayed a fictional character for SNL called Mary Katherine Gallagher who was supposed to represent an antithesis of women’s constant struggle to be perfect. “I have a daughter, and I don’t like her watching perfect girls on TV. It’s not real.” To play the awkward charcater, she had to make mistakes and fall and hurt herself to appear clumsy.
Often, she would get really bruised and cut up during the sketches, but she claimed to never have felt it during the show because of the performance adrenaline. But then on Sunday, all the aches came out.
Sarah Silverman Injured a Staff Writer
You might have wondered why Sarah Silverman never returned to SNL after only one season. Well, as the story goes, Silverman was present during a rewrite session and got one of those unexplainable urges to stab Al Franken’s hair. Silverman said that all the pencils on the writers’ table looked super sharp and they were just lying there, so she thought it’d be a fun little prank.
Unfortunately, instead of being a poke in the hair, the pencil went into his temple. It looked like she had injured him on purpose. Apparently, Franken just yelled out “Why?!!”, and needless to say, Silverman was never asked back to the show.
Norm MacDonald Really Disliked Chris Kattan
We've heard that Norm MacDonald never liked Chris Kattan for some reason and made a point of showing it.
Then Kattan defended himself by saying that MacDonald “was an as@h&le”. The two didn’t get along at all and often fought during rehearsals. The tension was such that when MacDonald was asked to return to the show as a host, Lorne Michaels made sure Kattan wasn’t there anymore.
Victoria Jackson Sent Everybody Bible Audio Cassettes
Victoria Jackson did fantastic impersonations of Zsa Zsa Gabor and Roseanne Barr on the show’s “Weekend Update” segment. However, she was probably the only member of the SNL cast at the time to be a Christian conservative, and sometimes that didn’t mesh too well with her colleagues.
Jackson went so far as to leave Bible audio cassettes in the other SNL cast members’ mail slots. Not only were the cassettes returned, but the cast members were angry. Jackson defended herself by saying “Maybe I'm overcompensating, because everybody here is dying and going to hell, and I'm supposed to tell them about Jesus.”
Jimmy Fallon Gives the Dirty Details
For its 40th anniversary, SNL threw an epic party and an even more legendary after-party. Fallon told it all in one of his episodes of the Tonight Show, telling how he had met Jerry Seinfeld, Jack Nicholson, Chris Rock and Paul McCartney, and many other A-list peeps.
But as if that weren’t enough, he talked about the after-party, that was held at New York’s famous Plaza Hotel. As per Fallon’s account, he sang drunk alongside McCartney, Prince, and many more, and there was video proof!
President Obama Vetoed a TV Funhouse Episode
You would never expect the creator of a TV show to be able to ask for the president’s opinion on a sketch, would you? Well, Lorne Michaels had that privilege. Apparently, SNL wanted to do a “TV Funhouse” sketch that involved sensitive topics, and Michaels didn’t want to overstep. So, he went to Obama for a fair opinion, saying that “if he had any discomfort with it, I didn’t want it to appear”.
When Michaels showed the sketch to Obama, the ex-president politely said, “It’s funny, but no. I don’t think so.” And that was the end of the TV Funhouse sketch.
Paul McCartney Impersonated One of Bill Hader’s Characters In Front of Him
Any SNL fan will remember Bill Hader’s hilarious character, Stefon. This flamboyant, anxious, and ridiculously hilarious gay “NYC guide” was an SNL favorite for a long time. So much so that, once, at a party, Paul McCartney himself approached Hader and did an impersonation of Stefon him.
McCartney said that designer daughter Stella had an assistant that reminded him of Stefon. One can only imagine how funny it was to see Bill Hader watching McCartney flap his arms around and cover his mouth in awe imitating this character.
Seth Meyers Didn’t Like Norm MacDonald’s Eddie Murphy Post on Twitter
Eddie Murphy had backed out of playing Bill Cosby in an SNL sketch in 2015, after the scandles that happened that year. MacDonald posted the entire thing on Twitter, and Seth Meyers didn’t think it was appropriate at all.
Meyers went on to argue that there are so many different things happening backstage at SNL, that one needs to know which ones to keep private. Meyers felt that this was a right Eddie Murphy had when he decided not to play a character, and MacDonald had gone too far.
Amy Poehler Needs to “Get Her Sh*t Together”
When Jon Hamm came on SNL, Amy Poehler was just about to give birth. Then, during rehearsal she heard the news during rehearsal that her very beloved, old, Italian OB-GYN had died.
Poehler went bonkers. Everybody around became silent and Poehler started sobbing and screaming like a little girl. Hamm, being so happy to have the chance to even be on SNL, grabbed Poehler by the shoulders and said “I know this is very sad... but I’m going to need you to get your shit together!”. Amy Poehler laughed so much that she peed herself. Literally.
Kanye West Had a Severe Breakdown Backstage
Kanye West is not known for his sanity. This became very evident when West had a major meltdown backstage in 2016 when he was SNL’s musical guest. Right before going on air, West realized that the SNL staff had made some changes to his set. West went on a screaming binge that was obviously caught on tape and later posted online.
West said that he is more influential than Stanley Kubrick, Picasso, Apostle Paul, Picasso, and Escobar. Poor Kanye, apparently his billions don’t cover a trip to a mental health specialist.
Nicolas Cage Gave It All
In what Samberg remembers as “one of the high points of his life”, he and Seth Meyers did a bit with Nick Cage on SNL called “In the Cage”. To their surprise, Nicolas Cage himself came in 2012 and joined them. Samberg says the experience was surreal, and Nicolas Cage, being the pro that he is, thought the whole thing was hilarious and performed along with them like a true team player.
Cage was sent the script before the show, but apparently, he didn’t even look at it before going on air! That's one brave actor.
Pete Davidson Had to Apologize for Mocking Republican Dan Crenshaw
Pete Davidson was mocking several politicians on the “Weekend Update” when suddenly, a photo of Republican Dan Crenshaw came up. Davidson said, “this guy is kind of cool”, referring to his eye patch. But he didn’t stop there. In midst of his own laughter, Davidson continued, “You may be surprised that he’s a congressional candidate from Texas and not a hitman in a porno movie”.
Many people hated the joke, saying that Davidson had been very disrespectful to the fact that Crenshaw was a war veteran, and his injury should never be made fun of. The backlash was such that Davidson had to publicly apologize to Crenshaw.
Norm MacDonald’s O.J. Simpson Jokes Got Him Fired
Norm MacDonald was an anchor of SNL’s “Weekend Update” throughout the 90s, and one of his repeating jokes was calling O.J. Simpson a criminal. In 1998, MacDonald was fired from the “Weekend Update” bit by Don Ohlmeyer, one of NBC’s presidents.
Ohlmeyer said that this was due to low ratings, but everyone believed it had to do with the O.J. jokes. Apparently, O.J. Simpson and Ohlmeyer were very good friends.
Nobody Wanted Elon Musk
It’s not news that many people have different opinions when it comes to Elon Musk. So, it was no surprise that when Musk was invited to host SNL in 2021, some people strongly disagreed.
Most of the SNL cast thought that a person as offensive as Musk shouldn’t be given a public stage. This was also a time when the global health crisis of 2020 was still rampant, and Musk’s spread of misinformation about the virus became very controversial.
Adrien Brody’s Epic Improvisation Failure
Sometimes going off script works out, and sometimes it ends up being a disaster. This was the case when Adrien Brody hosted SNL back in 2013. When he was announcing the musical guest Sean Paul, Brody decided it would be a good idea to come out wearing faux dreadlocks and speaking in an exaggerated Jamaican accent.
He went off on a rant. Viewers didn’t react well to the segment, finding it quite racist, and of course, Brody was never to be seen on SNL again.
Kanye West Makes a Fool of Himself
Kanye West never fails to deliver drama. West was performing on SNL in 2018, wearing a very red “Make America Great Again” hat, and when the show was over, he went on a rant.
Of course, everybody pulled out their phones and started filming. West started talking about Donald Trump, saying he fully supported him and his presidential run. The audience fell silent, and everybody just looked incredibly awkward.
Shane Gillis’ SNL Career Lasted Four Days
Shane Gillis is the shortest-lived cast member ever to have appeared on SNL. In September 2019, SNL hired Gillis and had him fired four days later. What happened was that SNL announced Gillis’ joining the team.
The reporter Seth Simons published clips of an episode from Gillis’ podcast where he made incredibly prejudiced remarks about Asian people. When Gillis offered an apology, it was already too late.
Elvis Costello is Banned for Changing His Mind
Back in 1977, the Sex Pistols were supposed to perform on SNL but canceled last minute. So, Elvis Costello was booked. As Costello was performing his famous son “Less Than Zero”, he thought it would be better to play something else since the song is about British politics and Americans probably wouldn’t understand it.
Costello stopped playing after a few seconds and switched to playing “Radio Radio”. This was considered such a faux pass that he was banned from SNL. But it’s all good, he got invited again twice some years later.
Chelsea Clinton Gets Picked on in a 'Wayne's World' Sketch
Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey did a hilarious “Wayne’s World” sketch back in 1992 and decided it would be a good idea to include Chelsea Clinton as the butt of their jokes. At this time, Chelsea Clinton was 12 years old, and her mom didn’t take too kindly to her daughter being mocked on TV.
Hillary Clinton was so mad that they had to remove the sketch from all re-airings of the show. The White House even received an apology letter from Mike Meyers.
Alec Baldwin and Adam Sandler's Infamous 'Canteen Boy' Sketch
Now, this is a clear sign of the times because a sketch like this would’ve never even aired nowadays. Back in 1994, SNL aired a sketch with Alec Baldwin and Adam Sandler in which Baldwin played a scoutmaster that was making very inappropriate advances toward Sandler, a boy scout called Canteen Boy.
As was to be expected, the sketch became very controversial, due to many people finding it made fun of sensitive issues. Surprisingly, SNL still includes it in some show re-runs, with a clear disclaimer that states Sandler’s character is actually 27 years old.
Sam Kinison Takes Stuff Too Lightly
Back in the 80s, talking about illegal medication or even making any references was a huge no-no on national TV. And NBC was no exception. This is what caused famous comedian Sam Kinison to be severely reprimanded when he made a joke about these topics.
Kinison made a remark during the show saying, “You can’t get any more pot. If you give us back the pot, we’ll forget about harder things.” You can only imagine the faces of NBC executives watching SNL that night.
System of a Down Cheated the System
System of a Down was invited as a musical guest in May 2005, and one of the show’s conditions what that they censor their lyrics. However, the band said that they would not do this under any circumstance. So, instead of canceling, the showrunners decided they would simply mute any F-word or swearing each time it appeared in a song.
They almost managed to censor everything when, at the last minute, Daron Malakian, the band’s lead singer yelled out “f*!ck yeah!” when the song was over!
Fred Armisen Went Too Far with Governor David Paterson
Fred Armisen is known for his brilliant impersonations, and one of those was his portrayal of former NY governor, David Paterson. Now, impersonating politicians is a very tricky thing, because the line between funny and offensive is very thin.
Armisen got a lot of criticism when he started going a bit too far and joking about Paterson’s being legally blind. The comedian mocked the hardships a blind person can have and went a bit overboard. Mocking politicians, yes. Mocking disabilities, huge no.
The 'Djesus Uncrossed' Sketch that Caused a Religious Uprising
The name of this sketch alone is enough to make you laugh, unless you’re a very religious person, of course. After Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” came out, SNL did a parody sketch of it soon after, called “Djesus Uncrossed”.
The sketch showed Jesus in search of revenge for those who had crucified him, in a very violent, gory, Tarantino-like manner. The show received a lot of backlash from religious organizations.
The Replacements Had a Little Too Much to Drink
Another band on the long list of musicians banned from SNL is The Replacements. Back in 1986, The Replacements were performing on SNL, and they did so without a problem with their first song “Kiss Me on the Bus”. However, when entering the stage for their second song, they were so drunk they could barely stand.
Not only was their performance terrible and out of tune, but they threw in a few swear words to make matters worse. Obviously, they had way too much fun during their break backstage.