Saturday Night Live: Power Ranking The 12 Most Miserable Cast Members

SNL misery has lots of company.
Saturday Night Live: Power Ranking The 12 Most Miserable Cast Members

When your show has had 159 cast members over nearly fifty years, you can’t expect them all to be happy.  No one knows that better than producer Lorne Michaels.  “Some people, their whole lives, are just injustice collectors,” he says. “They’re going to find new injustices every day. That’s what they do, and that’s what they are.” 

Yes, they were wronged!  (According to them.) Here’s ComedyNerd’s power ranking of the 12 most freaking miserable cast members of all time. 

Jon Lovitz

These days, Lovitz loves nothing more than showing up on podcasts to talk about his SNL glory days.  But he’s still griping about Lorne not giving him time off to do movies. “I was supposed to do a Liar movie and it didn’t work out,” says Lovitz. “So I would say stuff about (Lorne) and it would get back to him … so it would get tougher for me to get pieces on. And then, you know, he was mad at me.”

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Julia Sweeney

”My last year was just like one of the worst years of my life,” says Sweeney. “I think that Lorne was feeling a pressure to concentrate more on the younger talent. I think I got one sketch out of my whole fourth year. I complained. I felt like I would have scrubbed toilets with a toothbrush rather than come back to that show.”

Lorne wasn’t having it. “I let her make It’s Pat,” he says. “And ever since, it’s been on my record. They say “Saturday Night Live movies like It’s Pat.” And she’s unpleasant about the show!”


Garrett Morris

People suppose that if you are in a cast, that means you automatically go everywhere together twenty-four hours a day,” remembers Morris.  “I have always been an a**hole with any cast I’ve been with. I was gone as soon as I could be.”  


Julia Louis-Dreyfus

It wasn’t a particularly happy experience for me. I thought it was going to be a congenial experience; I wasn’t aware of the politicking one had to do, and I think there were a lot of drugs going on at the time,” says the Notorious JLD. “All the work was done between eleven o’clock at night and six o’clock in the morning. And that wasn’t, in my view, conducive to comedy.”


Leslie Jones

Does Leslie regret leaving SNL? "I don't miss it. At all," says Jones. "That job was hard, man. That job was like two jobs, and very restrictive too. I wasn't very free there."


Chris Elliott

”I seriously have no memory of it. And I think it was just such a miserable experience that I have sort of blacked out a lot of these things. That whole year I was just embarrassed. It literally was the worst year of my life.”


Pete Davidson

“I have a weird feeling in that building where I don’t know whose team they’re playing for, really—if I’m the joke or I’m in on the joke,” Pete said a few years back. “They think I’m f***ing dumb. I’m literally painted out to be this big dumb idiot.”


Damon Wayans

Wayans was so frustrated with his lack of airtime that he took over a live sketch, changing a one-line cop role into a dumb-note gay-bashing character he’d later do on In Living Color. “I just got angry,” confesses Wayans. “Because I didn’t think the sketch was funny. I had a bunch of straight-man lines. And it would’ve been funny if I had not done it with such anger. I was so angry, I basically wanted them to fire me.”

Nora Dunn

Dunn, who refused to perform the week Andrew Dice Clay was host, was unhappy that her sketches weren’t featured more on SNL’s 40th-anniversary show. "SNL is a traumatic experience,” says Dunn. “It’s something you have to survive.” 

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Jim Belushi

”I supposedly threw a fire extinguisher at (producer Dick) Ebersol,” says John’s l’il brother Jimmy. “I don’t remember throwing it at him. I remember going down the hall and getting really pissed and grabbing the fire extinguisher off the wall and heaving it toward his office. Those two years of Saturday Night Live were the toughest years I’ve ever spent in show business.”


Janeane Garofalo

Garofalo wanted out “after the first week.”  When she eventually quit at mid-season, “it was the first time Lorne ever respected me, to be quite honest. He despised me and was pleased that I quit— pleased that I was leaving and pleased that I had shown some kind of backbone.”


Harry Shearer

The Spinal Tap star is the only SNLer who quit or got himself canned from two different casts.  “I was pretty f***ing miserable for virtually the entire season,” he says of his first go-round, describing the environment as living hell.

“The evidence pretty much shows that Lorne’s approach to the cast was to try to infantilize them,” says Shearer. “He wanted them to be like children; he’d be the daddy. That was his preferred way of relating to people. And I didn’t particularly want to relate that way.”

Embassy Pictures

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