The show premiered in 1975 and has since gripped the nation, entertaining its audience with a variety of actors. It saw the careers of many actors bloom and had been instrumental in making many of them famous. SNL, as it is commonly known, has been around for 46 seasons and has received numerous awards over its four decades of existence. This serves as a testament to the show’s success and the return on investment for the various people in front of and behind the camera that made it possible. There are, however, little-known facts that will make you take another look at the show. For example, did you know that Tina Fey was the first woman to become the head writer of the show? Read on to learn more.
NBC’s Saturday Night
The show was initially called “NBC’s Saturday Night” when Lorne Michaels was on the drawing table as another show was called “Saturday Night Live with Howard Cossel”. Critics, however, blasted this show, resulting in the cancellation, opening the name up for grabs. NBC then bought the rights to what they considered the better title and “Saturday Night Live” as we know it was born.
Johnny Carson, the host of “The Tonight Show” and a huge moneymaker for NBC back in the day, asked that his reruns be reserved for the days he would go on vacation, instead of being broadcast on Saturdays, serving as buffer and insurance. This request resulted in an open slot for late-night Saturdays and so Michaels, who was then an up-and-coming writer and producer, was tasked to create SNL.
No one can claim that Jim Carrey is not funny — he is. For some reason, however, Carrey failed to become a cast member of SNL after auditioning twice. Michaels said someone must have said he would not like Carrey, but they were wrong. Since then, the iconic actor has appeared in various guest-hosting gigs on the show.
Who gets the credit for saying the now-famous line “live from New York, it’s Saturday night”? Chevy Chase. Yes, it is the same actor from National Lampoon. For a brief moment, Chase also had his own late-night show, “The Chevy Chase Show”.
If Chase said the opening line the first time, comedian Darrel Hammond holds the record for having said the opening sequence the most, having uttered it close to about 70 times during the 14 long years he spent on SNL.
Tom Hanks and Alec Baldwin
Hosting the show can give any actor’s career a boost and a handful of them hold the record for being the show’s host over a dozen times. The most, 17 times, belong to Alec Baldwin, who can make people laugh hard better than the laughing gas. Others who became hosts at least a dozen times were Tom Hanks, John Goodman, and Steve Martin.
An average time to pay off a mortgage loan spans about 15 years. That number is the same number Kenan Thompson has been with SNL, having been part of the show for 15 seasons. He joined in 2003 and is still going strong with the show even today.
Shared Dressing Room
In the early days of the show, the women cast members, Gilda Radner, Laraine Newman, and Jane Curtin had to share a dressing room. According to Jane, it was a small room, but this was where they found peace. It also served as their sanctuary when they found themselves stressed out from shoots.
Speaking of women’s power, Tina Fey was given credit for being the first head writer of the show. Later on, Tina and Amy Poehler joined forces to host the “Weekend Update” desk in 2004 and became part of the first two-woman team on the show.
Youngest and Oldest
The youngest person to ever host SNL was Drew Barrymore, while the honor of the oldest to host it goes to the iconic Betty White.
The cast members during the early days did not earn much as they only were paid $750 a show. Cast and crew members had to do their best to make ends meet at that time. Owing to the show’s success, this has drastically improved, and they now earn five digits at least, and they could now set aside investment money and have savings too.