10 ‘Saturday Night Live’ Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

Michelle Ranken

Celebrities

Can you believe that Saturday Night Live has been an American television staple for more than four decades now? Neither can we. Now let’s learn some fun facts about the show!

The Show Began Because Johnny Carson Wanted More Time Off

In 1974, Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show had the top spot on NBC. At the time, the network would air reruns on the weekends, but Carson requested that the reruns be shown on his vacation days instead. Because they were now in need of a new show to fill in the weekend slots, NBC’s then-director of weekend late-night teamed up with up-and-coming TV writer and producer Lorne Michaels to create Saturday Night Live.

The Show Originally Went by a Different Name

As it turns out, SNL wasn’t always SNL. In fact, initially there was another ABC show entitled Saturday Night Live With Howard Cosell.  But lucky for NBC, the show royally bombed and was cancelled in 1976, thus the Saturday Night Live that we all know and love today was born.

The Youngest and Oldest SNL Hosts

The record holder for the youngest SNL host is Drew Barrymore at the age of 7 in 1989. On the flip side, the oldest person to have hosted the show is Betty White at age 88 in 2010. As of 2021, both still hold their respective records!

The Crew is Under Strict Time Constraints for Setting up

When you work for a live television show, you’re expected to do things fast and accurately. Accordingly, a 2016 YouTube video showed the crew breaking down the (oftentimes elaborate) cold open stage and setting up for the host’s monologue, all with a clock counting down from one minute and 35 seconds.

Mindy Kaling Turned Down a Job at SNL

Although she was a self-proclaimed “SNL nerd” from a young age, Mindy Kaling was forced to turn down a writing job offered to her shortly after The Office first premiered because she was still bound by her Office contract. Fortunately, she was able to be a guest-writer for SNL not long after!

Kenan Thompson is the Longest-Running Cast Member on the Show

At this point Kenan Thompson is simply a beloved staple on SNL, and it makes sense seeing as he’s been on the show since 2003. After 15 seasons, in 2018, he officially became the longest-running cast member. 

John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd Were Bunkmates

…Yes, literally. The two Blues Brothers stars were reportedly so close during their SNL days that they shared an office, and had bunk beds in said office. 

Jim Carrey Failed at Becoming an SNL Cast Member…Twice

Jim Carrey seems like a personality who would fit right in at SNL, doesn’t he? Despite the fact that he’s one of the best-known and well-respected comedians of all time, he actually had his SNL auditions rejected on two occasions. But it seems that there’s no hard feelings there; Carrey has guest-hosted SNL on a few occasions since then!

Darrell Hammond Holds the Record for Saying the Tagline the Most Times

Former cast member Darrell Hammond has apparently said the famous tagline “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night” the most times out of anyone: 70 during his 14-year career on the show.

Aubrey Plaza Was an Intern at SNL in 2005

Aubrey Plaza is a huge star in her own right nowadays, but at one point she was an intern just trying to make her way in the entertainment industry. When she auditioned for the show three years later she was rejected, but that hasn’t seemed to hinder her career too much; in fact, it’s helped her if anything. “I was cast on Parks and Rec and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and it was all happening back to back,” she said in an interview with The Guardian in 2012.