Four Excruciating Examples of People Getting Injured on ‘SNL’
Chevy Chase couldn’t believe what Chris Farley was up to. When the up-and-comer showed off his violent pratfalls to the show’s original fall-down guy, Chase asked him, “What are you breaking your fall on?” The answer was nothing — Farley just assumed the abrasions and bruises were the price one had to pay for sending the audience into hysterics.
Farley’s not alone — a number of SNL’s stars have busted up their bodies in the pursuit of laughter. Here are four excruciating examples…
Nearly every SNL cast member has suffered bumps and bruises, but only Kattan claims to have broken his neck. In an “MSNBC Investigates” sketch, Kattan and other cast members played kids who liked to role-play as the Golden Girls. The script called for Kattan to topple backward off his chair, resulting in a skull slam that he says plagues him to this day, per his autobiography Baby Don’t Hurt Me: Stories and Scars from Saturday Night Live.
He struggled for a year before he got the injury checked; when he finally did, he was told it was too late to file for workers’ compensation. “NBC had stopped paying my medical costs after the second surgery,” Kattan wrote. “The SNL family I was part of had stopped taking care of me, and soon I wasn’t able to pay for everything myself.”
If you’ve ever watched a current video of Kattan and noticed how stiff he looks — well, now you know the reason.
Killam told Seth Meyers about the joy and pain of filming a 1980s cop show parody called Blazer. Think Knight Rider meets Magnum, P.I.
Killam did all the cliche cop-show stunts, sliding over car hoods and jumping around rooftops, “literally in my element, in heaven,” he says. Killam was killing it all day, leaping over three-foot walls, somersaulting and then lowering his sunglasses to pout at the camera. Killam nailed three or four of those takes, but then the cinematographer discovered his camera was out of position. Could the comic do the stunt one more time? (You can see where this is going.)
“At that last hurdle, I clipped my heel and just ate turf,” he says. The sympathetic producers at SNL aired Killam’s painful take in the final sketch (at his insistence).
“The stuntmen said, ‘She’s out of her fucking mind,’” Molly Shannon explained in her memoir, Hello Molly. That’s because Shannon refused any padding the first time she slammed her body around the set in a Mary Katherine Gallagher sketch.
“You threw yourself into those chairs more forcefully than anyone predicted and I was shocked and the audience screamed and after that I made sure everything was padded because I knew you’d commit 100 percent and possibly injure yourself,” marveled writer Steve Koren.
Shannon didn’t care. When she did Mary Katherine Gallagher, there was always a price she was willing to pay the next day. “I woke up Sunday morning, bruised and cut, muscles aching — but it felt so good because I had poured my fucking body into what I was doing,” she wrote. “I liked how it felt.”
Chevy Chase, Bill Murray and John Belushi
Is there any story more mythical in SNL lore than the time that Bill Murray and Chevy Chase scrapped immediately before Chase took the stage to deliver a monologue on live television?
Before the punches were thrown, egos were definitely bruised. Murray knew Chase was having trouble at home with his spouse Jackie Carlin, so he got in a painful jab: “Go fuck your wife — she needs it.”
Chase fired back with insults about Murray’s complexion, claiming his face looked like Neil Armstrong had landed on it. The verbal punches soon became physical ones, with each comic landing painful blows. John Belushi, who had spent a week goading both men into the fight, might have gotten the worst of the punches. Belushi tried to get in between them, which just put him in harm’s way. Chase landed “a glancing punch to (Belushi's) forehead,” he told Howard Stern in 2008, “and Billy might have hit him in the back of the head."
Sounds like the trouble-making Belushi got what he deserved.