Saturday Night Live: 13 Wild Behind The Scenes Stories
When your show has been on the air for nearly 50 years, like Saturday Night Live, you're going to have some pretty juicy stories from behind the curtain. Here are 13 stories from SNL alumni you have to read to believe.
Andy Samberg’s Favorite Moment On The Show
Andy Samberg describes Nicolas Cage’s cameo during Samberg’s “Get In The Cage” Weekend Update segment as one of the high points of his life. Samberg said, “It was not even remotely like Nic Cage. It was just a lunatic person that we called Nic Cage. To his enormous credit, he recognized that and thought that was funny and came on ‘SNL’ and we did it as twin Nic Cages.” Samberg said before they ran the bit at dress rehearsal it seemed as though Cage had not yet seen the script, but was into the idea. They ran it at the dress rehearsal and it went well, but according to Samberg, Cage really came alive at the live show. Samberg said, “He leaned in so hard and the last line from him was ‘We’re gonna have a three-way with the Declaration of Independence!’ Flames shot out of his head. It was so f*cking good!”
Eddie Murphy Kept His Job By Eating Dog Food
Curmudgeon/ Head Writer Michael O'Donoghue fired the entire cast from SNL except for Eddie Murphy due to his commitment to one bit live on air. Murphy was doing a bit on Weekend Update playing off the fact that old people were eating dog food in the news, and so Murphy ate the dog food live on air. O'Donoghue respected Murphy’s commitment to the bit so he let him stay, but Murphy didn’t tell O'Donoghue that it was really just hash in a can, not dog food, until after he had been brought back for another season.
The Writers Used Pee Jars
Tina Fey revealed that the Frank “peeing in jars” storyline from 30 Rock was actually based on the Weekend Update writers who had a jar of urine. Fey told the New Yorker, “In the Weekend Update offices—which were like the smarter but meaner older brother of the regular writers’ offices—there weren’t any cups. There was a jar. It was a jar of p*ss with a lid on it, and, judging by its consistency, I suspect that the writers sometimes spat into it. Or that one of them was terribly ill. You could see it when you came in the door, backlit by the afternoon sun, and at first I thought it was a test. If you saw the p*ss jar and dared to ignore it and continue into the room, you were welcomed. ‘Welcomed’ is too strong a word. You were… one of the guys? Nope, you know what? I’m just projecting. It couldn’t have been a test, because they really didn’t give a f*ck whether you came into the room or not.”
Jon Hamm’s Dark Joke That Made Amy Poehler Stop Crying
Amy Poehler’s ob-gyn sadly passed away the day before she was supposed to give birth while she was still at 30 Rock. She was rehearsing a Mad Men sketch with Jon Hamm before she got the call and burst into tears. Poehler told Vulture, “Jon Hamm held me by the shoulders and looked at me and said, ‘I know this is very sad, but this is a really important show for me, so I’m going to need you to get your shit together.’ This made me laugh so hard I think I peed. Going from crying to laughing that fast and hard happens maybe five times in your life and that extreme right turn is the reason why we are alive. I believe it extends our life by many years.”
Tina Fey Refused To Share The Stage With Sarah Palin
Tina Fey refused to appear on camera with Sarah Palin when she cameoed on Saturday Night Live. Fey explained on David Tennant Does a Podcast With… that she felt a two-shot with her and Palin would come back to haunt her later in life, as she disagreed whole-heartedly with Palin’s platform. To make the sketch work, producers instead kept Palin backstage with Lorne to make her guest appearance.
Paul McCartney and Robin Williams Were Bill Hader Fans
Bill Hader revealed in Live From New York that he had two big fans of his character Stefon visit the SNL stages. Hader wrote, “Paul McCartney came up to me and said, ‘My daughter is a clothing designer.’ And I was like, ‘Uh-huh.’ And he said, 'This guy that works with her, he’s that way.’ And he put his hands over his mouth like Stefon, and my wife was behind me and, not quietly, she went, ‘Oh my God! Paul McCartney is doing your character to you.’ And I was like, ‘Thank you, sir. I can die now. Thank you very much. I’m going to go throw up right now.’ It was crazy having Paul McCartney do your character to you. Robin Williams did the same thing. When he was on the show to do ‘What’s Up with That?’ he said, ‘I love that character that you do.’ And he started doing it. I was like, ’Thank you very much: that’s bonkers.’
Fred Armisen’s Prince Meeting
Fred Armisen recounted the story of when he first met Prince as being at one of Prince’s self-thrown afterparties after he had appeared on Saturday Night Live. Armisen recalls that the rock legend had a D.J. and a buffet filled with mac and cheese. Armisen spent much of his life idolizing the artist, as he performed an impression of him on the show and has a musical background himself so he decided to finally go meet him while he sat alone eating macaroni. Armisen said he approached Prince and said, “I just want to let you know that I think you’re the greatest.” To which Prince replied, “Do you know what I think is the greatest? This mac and cheese.” Armisen walked away with his head hung low.
Chevy Chase Fist Fought Bill Murray
Chevy Chase left Saturday Night Live just six episodes into his second season and Bill Murray was added to replace him. When Chase came back to host, tensions were high and the two actually got into a fist fight in John Belushi’s dressing room just minutes before the taping actually began. Laraine Newman said, "I think they both knew the one thing that they could say to one another that would hurt the most, and that's what I think incited it. It was very sad and painful and awful." The insults that sent them over the edge were Murray informing Chase that everyone hated him and Chase telling Murray, “his face was so pockmarked, it looked like a moon landing spot for Neil Armstrong.” Murray then allegedly quipped back a joke about Chase's sex life with then-wife Jacqueline Carlin. Fights are never something to root for, but this one must have been pretty funny to listen to.
Sarah Silverman Stabbed Al Franken
Sarah Silverman said she was taking part in a rewrite session with Al Franken and some other writers, when the overwhelming urge came over her to poke a pen through Franken’s frizzy hair, but instead ended up stabbing him in the temple. Silverman told Seth Meyers, “I was just kind of like a million miles away looking at his hair. The whole table has really sharpened pencils, like super sharp… and in my mind, I just thought, I’m gonna like stab this through his hair. But what everyone saw, because this is what happened, was that I just stabbed him really hard. Because I was going to go through his hair in my mind but it just went in his temple. He screamed something like, 'WHY?'... I somehow wasn’t asked back for the next season.”
Eddie Murphy Pissed Off The Whole Cast At Once
Nick Nolte got so drunk the night before he was supposed to host that he had to back out of the hosting gig on the day, leading Eddie Murphy to host as the only person to host and be a member of the cast at the same time. When his cold open came to an end he yelled, “Live from New York, it’s the Eddie Murphy Show,” which aggravated the entire cast.
Related: Take More Chances, Eddie Murphy!
The SNL Blacklist
Over the years, several celebrities have been banned from ever returning to the show. As of right now, that list includes Adrien Brody for a racially insensitive improvised Jamaican impression, Rage Against The Machine, Martin Lawrence, Sinead O’Connor, Cypress Hill, Stevan Seagal, Robert Blake, The Replacements, Andy Kaufman, Fear, Milton Berle, Charles Grodin, Frank Zappa, and System Of A Down.
Jenny Slate Dropped An F-Bomb In Her First Sketch
You may not remember that Jenny Slate of Marcel The Shell was a member of the Saturday Night Live cast, but that's probably because she was only there for a single season. In her first ever sketch on air with Kristen Wiig, Slate accidentally dropped the F-bomb on live T.V.. Slate says it wasn’t the reason she was let go from the series, but it certainly didn’t help.
Will Ferrell Wore The Same Outfit Backstage For A Year
Will Ferrell once appeared in a sketch that parodied Smokey And The Bandit, where he wore wrangler jeans, a trucker hat, a plaid shirt, and a vest, which he ended up wearing for the entire day so as to not change in and out of costume. Fellow writer Tom Gianis saw Ferrell wear the costume a second day in a row and begged Ferrell to wear the outfit for the rest of the year, which Ferrell ended up doing.
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