Saturday Night Live has been a must-see TV show for over forty years, offering up gut-busting parodies of politics, sports, and celebrity stories with a unique brand of absurdity and satire. Over the years, Saturday Night Live has launched some of the biggest names in comedy, including Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Amy Poehler, and Kristen Wiig. During this time, the show has also been at the center of several headlines, such as those about backstage antics and televised controversies. Here are twenty of the most hilarious, surprising, controversial, and all-around memorable moments in Saturday Night Live‘s history.
The First Show
NBC’s Saturday Night premiered on October 11, 1975, after Johnny Carson asked to get Saturday nights off from The Tonight Show. The original roster of Not Ready for Primetime Players included Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin, Laraine Newman, and Gilda Radner. The episode was hosted by comedian George Carlin, who immediately pushed the boundaries of network censors with his provocative humor. The premiere also featured a now-infamous appearance from Andy Kaufman, who performed his famed Mighty Mouse bit. Over the course of the first season, the cast quickly became household names. In particular, Chevy Chase (who did the nightly “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!” opening and hosted Weekend Update), John Belushi, and Dan Aykroyd quickly rose to fame. Behind the scenes, Al Franken and creator Lorne Michaels were among the show’s writers.
Bill Murray Joins The Cast
Chevy Chase’s exit was just one of many shake-ups during the series’ second season. Just three episodes after he left, Bill Murray was brought in to replace him. The show was also officially renamed Saturday Night Live in March 1977, and Jane Curtin took over as the anchor of Weekend Update. Murray was an instant fan favorite, despite complaining at one point that he felt like none of his sketches made it to air. Chase returned to host during the third season, causing tension backstage. Before the end-of-the-show onstage goodbyes, an altercation broke out between Chase and Murray. After they exchanged several insults, they began to fight physically. John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd had to break it up.