25 Fascinating Facts About "Saturday Night Live"

Updated on November 14, 2018
Rachel M Johnson profile image

Rachel M. Johnson is a lover of all things pop culture. She's been writing about music and entertainment online for over two years.

Saturday Night Live has been making people laugh since 1975, and has discovered comedic heavy-hitters including Will Ferrell, Chevy Chase, Amy Poehler, Eddie Murphy and Mike Meyers. In honor of the show's impressive 43 years on air, let's take a look at some of the most interesting facts about SNL.

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1. During its opening season, Saturday Night Live was known only as "Saturday Night" because another show that aired during its premiere season went by the name. The show ended in 1976 and creator Lorne Michaels took the name.

2. Steven Seagal is widely considered to be one of the worst hosts of all time, not only by the audience but by the writers as well. The action star reportedly was extremely difficult to work with and refused to play along with the cast members.

3. Damon Wayans was a cast member from 1985 to 1986, before he became bored with the material he was given, and was ultimately fired. His decision to play a flamboyant and gay police officer when it was not asked in the sketch led to his firing. However, Wayans was asked to return two months later to do a stand-up act.

4. In 1996, Rage Against Machine's second song was cut and the band was ordered to leave the studio after they hung two American flags upside down during their performance. The show was hosted by presidential candidate Steve Forbes, and on their way out the band shredded up the flags and tossed the remains by his dressing room door.

5. Three cast members have been fired and re-hired by the show: Chris Parnell, John Belushi and Tim Meadows. Adam Sandberg and Chris Farley were reportedly fired, but they also wanted to quit at the time they were let go.

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Steven Seagal on his 1991 SNL episode. Damn Wayans on SNL.
Steven Seagal on his 1991 SNL episode.
Steven Seagal on his 1991 SNL episode. | Source
Damn Wayans on SNL.
Damn Wayans on SNL. | Source
Rage Against Machine.
Rage Against Machine. | Source

6. Eddie Murphy was cast on the show because he called the show's talent coordinator Neil Levy every day, for a week straight explaining how desperate he was for the job. Levy initially brought Murphy in as just an extra, but after his audition he was given a contract right away.

7. Chris Farley was such a huge fan of John Belushi that he once found an old pair of Belushi's pants in the wardrobe room and stole them.

8. Bill Hader's "Weekend Update" character Stefon is a fan favorite, and he is known for constantly breaking character during the sketch. One of the biggest reasons is because co-writer John Mulaney would change Stefon's lines on the cue cards without telling Hader. He would then have to deliver the lines for the first time without cracking up (which he often failed to do).

9. Taylor Swift hosted the show in 2009, and even wrote her own song for the monologue, which hosts don't typically do. Seth Meyers claims she walked into Lorne Michaels' office and said, "I wrote a monologue. Can I play it for you guys?" They were so impressed that she went on to perform the monologue.

10. In 1999, Tina Fey became the first female head writer in SNL's 25-year history.

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Eddie Murphy, who was a cast member from 1980 to 1984. Chris Farley and his idol, John Belushi.
Eddie Murphy, who was a cast member from 1980 to 1984.
Eddie Murphy, who was a cast member from 1980 to 1984. | Source
Chris Farley and his idol, John Belushi.
Chris Farley and his idol, John Belushi. | Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Bill Hader as his Weekend Update character, Stefon. Taylor Swift performing her opening monologue in 2009.
Bill Hader as his Weekend Update character, Stefon.
Bill Hader as his Weekend Update character, Stefon. | Source
Taylor Swift performing her opening monologue in 2009.
Taylor Swift performing her opening monologue in 2009. | Source

11. Mike Meyers ignored the writers who thought his new character, Wayne Campbell, wouldn't work out. At the time, Conan O'Brien was a writer and had even said, "This poor kid is going to have to learn the hard way." The character managed to make it onto the show in the unpopular final slot, along with his buddy Garth Algar (Dana Carvey). Wayne became a massive hit and spawned two blockbuster movies Wayne's World and Wayne's World 2.

12. Gilda Radner was the very first cast member hired for the show' first season. She had previously made a name for herself on Broadway, performing many of the characters she'd use in the show.

13. Comedian Andy Kaufman was the first performed to officially be banned from the show, mainly due to his inconsistent and unpredictable performances. Kaufman suggested to a producer that they put his future with the show to a vote and let the audience decide. Phone-in votes were tallied, with 195,544 votes to "Dump Andy" and 169,186 votes to "Keep Andy."

14. Saturday Night Live cast members originally made $750 a week, though when the show grew popular that rose to $4000 per week by the fourth season. Will Ferrell made history in 2001 when he signed a contract for $350,000 per season, becoming the highest paid-cast member ever.

15. Keenan Thompson was 25-years-old when he joined the show in 2003, becoming the first ever cast member who was born after the show premiered. Thompson was born in 1978, three years after SNL's premiere.

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Wayne (Mike Meyers) & Garth (Dana Carvey). Gilda Radner on SNL.
Wayne (Mike Meyers) & Garth (Dana Carvey).
Wayne (Mike Meyers) & Garth (Dana Carvey). | Source
Gilda Radner on SNL.
Gilda Radner on SNL. | Source
Andy Kaufman.
Andy Kaufman. | Source

16. Frank Zappa was banned from the show in 1978 after admitting to the audience that he was reading his monologue off cue cards. Steven Seagal was banned in 1991 for being the "worst host ever", and for being rude to the cast and crew. Martin Lawrence was banned in 1994 for going off-script and ranting about feminine hygiene that was to offensive to rebroadcast.

17. Candace Bergen was the first female to host, the first person to host the show for a second time, and the first woman to host five times.

18. Chevy Chase became so popular after appearing on the show for one season, that he left in order to try out his luck in Hollywood. While fans loved him, many of his fellow cast members couldn't stand him. Chase had a reputation of being abusive and rude, and when he returned to host in 1978, he got into a fist fight with Bill Murray. Dan Aykroyd had to pull them apart, as the two exchanged insults. However, the pair are reportedly on good terms now.

19. Jim Carrey auditioned twice for Saturday Night Live, but somehow was rejected both times. He would go on to host the show a few times since his auditions.

20. Alec Baldwin has hosted the show the most out of everyone. As of February 2017, he has hosted a massive 17 times.

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Bill Murray (left) and Chevy Chase. Jim Carrey hosting SNL.
Bill Murray (left) and Chevy Chase.
Bill Murray (left) and Chevy Chase. | Source
Jim Carrey hosting SNL.
Jim Carrey hosting SNL. | Source
Alec Baldwin hosting SNL.
Alec Baldwin hosting SNL. | Source

21. Male writers have been known to pee in a cup or jar in their office, instead of going to the bathroom.

22. Kathy Griffin, Steve Carell, Lisa Kudrow, Stephen Colbert and Jim Carrey all auditioned for SNL but were ultimately rejected. Louis C.K. also auditioned in 1993, but failed to make the cast.

23. Bob Odenkirk (Saul Goodman of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul) created Chris Farley's iconic motivational speaker character Matt Foley.

24. In the 1970s, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd rented a bar in New York City, known as the Blues Bar, where SNL after-parties were frequently held. The duo would play their own live music, and sometimes were joined by famous artists including James Taylor, Keith Richards and Sam Moore.

25. Tina Fey had already left the show before the 2008 election, but Lorne Michaels asked her to return when both his doorman and Robert De Niro noticed how much she resembled Sarah Palin.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Actors rejected from SNL: (From left) Stephen Colbert, Jim Carrey, Lisa Kudrow and Steve Carell. Dan Aykroyd & John Belushi.
Actors rejected from SNL: (From left) Stephen Colbert, Jim Carrey, Lisa Kudrow and Steve Carell.
Actors rejected from SNL: (From left) Stephen Colbert, Jim Carrey, Lisa Kudrow and Steve Carell. | Source
Dan Aykroyd & John Belushi.
Dan Aykroyd & John Belushi. | Source
Tina Fey as Sarah Palin.
Tina Fey as Sarah Palin. | Source

© 2018 Rachel M Johnson

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