12 Crazy Behind-the-Scenes Stories From SNL
After being on the air for more than three decades, the essential format of Saturday Night Live show hasn't changed: Get an A-list guest host (or reasonable facsimile) and throw him or her into sketches with the ensemble players. The results? Hilarity through the ages.
Stories via IMDB
1/12. When Eddie Murphy was first hired, he was not a regular cast member, he was a guest performer who was given nothing to do. He threatened to quit until he was given a segment of Weekend Update to perform. He was so funny, he eventually appeared in sketches and became a regular cast member.
2/12. According to the official memoir, Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, Chevy Chase is banned from ever hosting the show again. In the book, numerous cast members recall stories in which Chase insulted cast and crew. According to Terry Sweeney, Chase made homophobic remarks to Sweeney who is openly gay. According to Will Ferrell, Chase was the worst host during his time on the show. Chase has continued to make cameo appearances on the show but has not hosted since 1997.
3/12. In order to make Bill Hader laugh and break character during the "Stefon" sketches, John Mulaney would change some of the jokes right before the live broadcast, meaning that when Hader is reading the cue cards he is reading some of the material for the first time. His trademark gesture of covering his mouth with both hands is his attempt to (often unsuccessfully) conceal fits of laughter.
4/12. In 1995, Steve Carell auditioned for the show along with his wife, Nancy Carell. She was cast but he was not. The following season, Carell was cast as the voice of Gary in the recurring animated segment "The Ambiguously Gay Duo". When he hosted the show in 2005, Carell stated he was beat out for the spot by Will Ferrell.
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5/12. In November 2007, the cast, excluding Maya Rudolph, gave a live unaired performance of SNL at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York City as a result of the WGA Strike. The show featured old and rejected sketches with the proceeds going to the show's production staff. The host was Michael Cera and the musical guest was Yo La Tengo. Rachel Dratch, Horatio Sanz, and Norah Jones made cameo appearances.
6/12. Don Pardo announced his retirement twice, in 2004 and in 2009. But both times, he was convinced to return. He would fly to New York every week from his home in Arizona. In 2010, Pardo was allowed to record his intros from his home and have them sent to New York. Pardo remained with the show until shortly before his death on August 18, 2014 at the age of 96.
7/12. The balcony level studio audience seats in Studio 8H, where Saturday Night Live is broadcast from, are actually seats on-loan from Yankees Stadium in the Bronx, New York. NY Yankees owner George M. Steinbrenner III loaned them out in 1975 with the assumption that Saturday Night Live wouldn't stay on the air long (they were expected back upon cancellation of the show). Partly out of both tradition and superstition, the seats are still in use to this day. Since then, NBC has had to pay out annual fines to the city of New York (a relatively minor business expense, all things considered). In addition, any time repair work is needed, repair people are sent directly to the studio to do work there, which is more expensive than taking seats to a repair shop.
8/12. According to writer Larry David, he stormed into executive producer Dick Ebersol's office and angrily quit the show. When David realized how much money he would be losing, he decided to return to the show and pretend that nothing happened. Ebersol never confronted him about it and David stayed for the rest of the season. David used this experience as the basis for the Seinfeld (1989) episode "The Revenge".
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9/12. While most of the musical performances on the show are indeed live, a few have been lip-synced, and several have been taped in advance. The first lip-sync was ABBA on 15 November 1975. The first prerecorded performance was Carly Simon on 08 May 1976, because she was nervous to sing in front of a live audience. On the October 23, 2004 episode, Ashlee Simpson revealed that she was lip-syncing during her second performance when the same vocal track for her first performance was accidentally replayed. An embarrassed Simpson walked off the stage and the show quickly cut to commercial.
10/12. Street performer Charlie Barnett was cast for the 1980-1981 season. But it was discovered that Barnett was illiterate. He was replaced by Eddie Murphy.
11/12. The shows that were hosted by Louise Lasser and Milton Berle have never been seen in reruns since their original air date, at Lorne Michaels' insistence. Lasser refused to do all skits, and locked herself in her dressing room just before airtime, coming out just in time to do the opening monologue. Berle called everyone "Booby" and impressed no one but John Belushi with his mugging, racist jokes, and egomania.
12. After the end of the 1979-1980 season, in October 1980, Lorne Michaels and most of the original cast members who had all since left the show (Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin, etc.), reunited to put together a special that would parody the upcoming presidential election between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. The special was to air live on November 1 1980. But just a few days before the special was to air, Carter and Reagan decided to do another televised debate on November 1. Live coverage of the debate forced NBC to reschedule. NBC offered Michaels the chance to do the special the following week, but he refused because it would have been after the election and the material would no longer be topical.
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