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Saturday Night Live FAQ: General Questions

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Archive-name: tv/sat-night-live/faq
Last-modified: 1997/02/24
Posting-Frequency: Monthly

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Saturday Night Live FAQ:  General Questions

Subject: Topics

What is SNL?
Is it really live?
Is there an episode guide?
Where is the show broadcast from?
Wasn't Steve Martin a player?
What is a "Five Timer"?
How do I get tickets for SNL?
How can I contact Lorne Michaels?
How can I get a copy of the "XYZ Sketch"?
Do any of the players have e-mail addresses?
Gilda married *who*?
Which star has been on the show the longest?
Who were the youngest and oldest hosts?
Weren't The Beatles on the show?
Don't SNL and SCTV have a lot in common?
It's only x weeks into the season.  Why are they showing reruns?
Didn't somebody get fired for saying "fuck" on the air?
Has anybody else said "fuck" on the show?
Who created Mr. Bill?
Who is the voice at the beginning of the show?
Didn't somebody else announce in the early 80's?
Isn't one of the former players royalty?
Who plays in the Saturday Night Live Band? I heard Paul Shaffer got his
  start there...
What music is used in the "Roxbury Guys" sketch?
Who's in the cast?
What else have they been in?
How can I learn more about SNL?
Why is SNL so bad recently?

Subject: What is SNL?

SNL is Saturday Night Live.  It is a comedy/music
television show on the NBC television network.  It
is usually broadcast on Saturday nights at 11:30pm
ET.  The show was originally called NBC's Saturday
Night because there was a show on ABC starring Howard
Cosell at the same time called Saturday Night Live.
The producers later gained permission to rename the
show.  The "Not Ready For Prime Time Players" moniker
also came from ABC's Saturday Night Live actors who
called themselves the "Prime Time Players".

Subject: Is it really live?

Yes, it is broadcast live (except for a few taped
segments such as the fake commercials).  There were
also two occasions when it was broadcast on a delay
because of the reputations of the hosts.  These were:

13 Dec 1975:  Richard Pryor      (7 second delay)
12 May 1990:  Andrew Dice Clay   (7 second delay)

Subject:  Is there an episode guide?

I have been working on one since about 1990, but recently
I haven't been able to give it the time it needs, so I
would recommend looking at Frank Serpas III's guide at:

Subject:  Where is the show broadcast from?

Studio 8-H in 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York City.  There
have been a couple of exceptions to this.  During the 1976
presidential campaigns Studio 8-H was taken over for poli-
tical coverage and the shows of 23 Oct 1976, 30 Oct 1976,
and 13 Nov 1976 were broadcast from NBC's Studio One in
Brooklyn.  There was also a special Mardi Gras show that
was done live during primetime from New Orleans on 20 Feb
1977 (which was a Sunday).

Subject:  Wasn't Steve Martin a player?

One word:  No.  Steve Martin has hosted the most times,
but he was never a regular player.  While we're at
it, neither was Buck Henry, although he has hosted
second most often.  If you have seen a "Best of Sat-
urday Night" broadcast when Steve was hosting you
would have seen him listed alphabetically with the
players.  This has led to some confusion on the topic.

Subject: What is a "Five Timer"?

People who have hosted the show five times or more.
This was given heavy coverage in a sketch on 8 Dec
1990 when Tom Hanks hosted his 5th show.  Five-Timers
Paul Simon, Steve Martin, and Elliott Gould showed
up and welcomed Tom into the "Five Timers Club."  The
other people who have hosted five times or more are
Candice Bergen, Buck Henry, John Goodman, Danny DeVito,
Alec Baldwin, and Chevy Chase.

Subject: How do I get tickets for SNL?

You can write to:

Saturday Night Live
c/o NBC
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York City, NY  10112

Their selection process is rather strange.  According to Bill
Dennen, your request must be postmarked in August.  All other
requests are thrown away.  Also, the numbers of requests is
high, so you will be very lucky to receive tickets.

Subject: How can I contact Lorne Michaels?

Write to:

Lorne Michaels
c/o Broadway Video
1619 Broadway
New York City, NY  10019

Subject: How can I get a copy of the "XYZ Sketch"?

Several people have asked me this question.  Unfortunately, I
don't know.  The best thing I can suggest is that you write to
either NBC or Broadway Video and ask if copies of old shows or
sketches are available.

Subject: Do any of the players have e-mail addresses?

I have not heard of e-mail addresses for anybody related to the
show.  But even if I had, I would be hesitant to give them out
on the net for fear the people would be swamped with e-mail.  To
get in contact with anybody associated with the show, you should
just write to them c/o NBC.

Subject: Gilda married *who*?

GE Smith.  Yes, before Gilda Radner married Gene Wilder
she was married to GE (George Edward) Smith.

Subject: Which star has been on the show the longest?

Phil Hartman started his 8th season of SNL on 25 Sep 1993.  Kevin
Nealon has also been around since 1986, but he started as a featured
player.  Also, writers and featured players Al Franken and Tom Davis
have been with the show for most of its run.

[Note - I know this needs updating. -ed]

Subject: Who were the youngest and oldest hosts?

Technically, George Carlin was the youngest *and* oldest
host on the first show, but let's not get silly.  As of
this writing, Drew Barrymore is the youngest host in SNL
history.  Here are the ages of the hosts under 18:

Date              Host            Age
----              ----            ---
27 Nov 1976       Jodie Foster    14y  0m  8d
20 Nov 1982       Drew Barrymore   7y  8m 29d
24 Feb 1990       Fred Savage     13y  7m 15d
23 Nov 1991       Macaulay Culkin 11y  2m 28d

The oldest host was a lady named Miskel Spillman.  She was
an 80+ year old grandmother that won the "Anyone Can Host"
contest held in 1977.  She and four other finalists (Richard
Canipe, Connie Crawford, David Lewis, and Deb Blair) appeared
on the 19 Nov 1977 show.  Viewers were asked to write in and
vote for their favorite.  Miskel won and hosted the Christ-
mas show on 17 Dec.  The second oldest host was Ruth Gordon
who was 80 when she hosted on 22 Jan 1977.

Subject: Weren't The Beatles on the show?

Sort of yes and no.  On 24 Apr 1976, Lorne Michaels offered
The Beatles $3000 to appear on SNL and sing three songs.  Then
on 22 May he came on again and upped the offer to $3200 plus
hotel accomadations.  On 20 Nov, George Harrison showed up
and tried to claim all the money himself.  Lorne said
that if it was up to him, George could have the money,
but NBC wouldn't agree.  When Paul McCartney appeared on
the show on 13 Feb 1993 he and Lorne were seen talking
about the offer during the monologue.  Paul also appeared
on 17 May 1980.  Ringo Starr hosted on 08 Dec 1984.  John
Lennon never appeared.

Subject: Don't SNL and SCTV have a lot in common?

Yes.  And if you would like to learn more about SCTV, you can see
its FAQ at

Subject: It's only x weeks into the season.  Why are they showing reruns?

SNL usually broadcasts three live shows in a row and then
takes a week off.  Once in Jan 1976 four shows where done
in a row and it was so stressful they vowed never to do it
again.  Sometimes it seems we're lucky to get two new shows
in a row.

Subject: Didn't somebody get fired for saying "fuck" on the air?

Depends on how you look at it.  On 21 Feb 1981 (when the
show was doing very poorly) there was a running "who shot
J.R. Ewing" gag.  At the end of the show Charlene Tilton
was on stage with Charles Rocket (who was playing J.R.)
and she asked how he felt.  Charles responded:  "Oh man,
it's the first time I've been shot in my life.  I'd like
to know who the fuck did it."  Needless to say, NBC offi-
cials were not happy.  On Monday 10 Mar 1981, Jean Doumanian
(the post-Lorne Michaels producer), and most of the play-
ers were fired.  Only Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo sur-
vived.  There was also a featured player who accidently
mumbled "fuckin'" instead of "floggin'" during a sketch.
It was none other than our good friend Mr. Paul Shaffer on
15 Mar 1980.  You can hear a couple of people in the
audience gasp after the mistake, but nothing much else
came of it. 

Subject: Has anybody else said "fuck" on the show?

Yes, according to Jarret Cooper <>:

To the list of people who have said "fuck" on SNL, add Morris Day
(of The Time).  The Time appeared on the 1990 show featuring host
George Steinbrenner (20 Oct 1990 -ed.), and performed "Jerk Out"
and "Chocolate".  During the second song, there is a pantomime
about Morris going to a restaurant for dinner.  At the end of the
song, after "dinner" arrives, the music stops, and in the few
seconds of silence before the "finale", Morris quite clearly looks
at Jerome and says:

"Where the fuck this chicken come from -- I thought I ordered ribs!"

Oh, and also (as detailed in the "SNL:  Backstage History" book,
Prince did NOT refrain from using the lyric "Fightin' war is such
a fuckin' bore" during his performance of "Partyup" on the same
night as Rocket's "who the fuck did it" line.

Eddie Tillis <>:

I remember a show where Tony Danza guest hosted (28 Jan 1989 -ed.),
and they did a sketch on stereotypical Italians (or "Tonys," I'm not
sure ).  The last line in the sketch was Tony's and he said "Fuckin' A!"

William Lambert <>:

The sketch was "Da Brooklyn Academy of Fine Arts presents *Da War of
da Woilds*, and Danza's last line was clearly "fonkin' aaaay!!". Most
of the cast had been using "fonkin'" throughout the sketch; in fact,
one of the big laughs came from Jon Lovitz's obvious care in not saying
the other word.

Jim Henning <>:

Steven Tyler of Aerosmith sang "get the f---ing monkey off my back"
in their 1990 [17 Feb 1990 -ed] appearance promoting their album
"Pump".  The offending word was silenced out for the rebroadcast.

And most recently Janet Jackson used the word "fuck" during her
her performance of "Throb" on 14 May 1994.

Bob <>:

There was a sketch a couple of years ago with host Joe Pesci.  He
was a customer in a pinkie ring shop.  He'd try on each pinkie
ring and then look at himself in a full-length mirror.  He'd do
various poses with the ring, then move on to another ring.  Each
successive ring would be accompanied by more and more elaborate
poses and gestures with the ring.  By the end, he was miming a
conversation with an imaginary person, and the argument got heated
and he ends up mouthing "Fuck You!  Fuck You!  Fuck me?  
No, Fuck You!", repeatedly.  He never says it out loud, but even
a lousy lip reader could make out what he was saying. :-)

REM also used the word "fuck" on their most recent performance of
"What's the Frequency, Kenneth?".  However, Michael Stipe had his
back turned to the audience.  (This was 12 Nov 1994. -ed)

David C. Jones <>:

I'm pretty sure you have already heard this a million times now 
since its all they can talk about now over on, but
last week when Stipe performed What's the Frequency Kenneth,
he performed the album version, the last line of which is:
"I never understood.  Don't fuck with me."

Shortly before the line, Mike Mills gives Stipe this "are you gonna
do it?" look.  Stipe smiles at him, turns around, and then says it 
so you can't see his lips.

Richard Wells <>:

So there I was, perusing news.answers (was I bored? you be the judge)
and there was the SNL FAQ.  I was surprised that my favorite example
of someone (almost?) saying "fuck" on the air was not present.  In
fact, I think this pre-dates all the examples listed in the FAQ.

I remember a show from about 1979 in which the Weekend Update
segment (with Jane Curtin and Bill Murray?) had a story on the
first test-tube baby, or perhaps the first American test tube
baby, which was conceived in a hospital in Norfolk, VA.  At the
end of the story, Jane Curtin made a point of making the final
mention of the city name sound as close to "Nofuck, Virginia"
as possible; if I recall correctly, the line was something like
to "And yes, this happened in Nofuck, Virginia".

Of course, I fully accept that my memory after 16 years is quite
possibly faulty, so perhaps other readers can fill in or correct
some of the details.

Will Pacer <>:

I just wanted to add something to your FAQ about who said "fuck" on the
show although they didn't come right out and say "fuck."  They said
"cock" which I'm pretty sure you're not allowed to say.  It was the show
with Rosanne and Tom Arnold and the musical guests were the Red Hot Chili
Peppers.  Thei'r first song was "Stone Cold Bush" off the album Mother's
Milk and it can clearly be heard that they say
        "When you smoke that rock
         and suck that do it oh so well"
I'm thinking that this wouldn't ordinarily be allowed by the censors.

Will Pacer <> (2):

Just wanted to add to your list of those who say fuck...
I think it was last year when the Beastie Boys were the musical guests
and during their performance of "Sure Shot" Ad Rock clearly yells out
"Never quittin' so won't you fuckin listen?!"

Subject: Who created Mr. Bill?

Walter Williams.  (I'll add more information about him in a later
version of the FAQ. -ed)

Subject: Who is the voice at the beginning of the show?

None other than veteran NBC announcer Don Pardo.

Subject: Didn't somebody else announce in the early 80's?

Yes.  Mel Brandt announced the 1981-1982 season with
the exception of 5 and 12 Dec 1981 which were done by
Bill Hanrahan.

Subject: Who plays in the Saturday Night Live Band? I heard Paul
         Shaffer got his start there...

Paul did play in the show's band the first five seasons.  For more
detailed information on the band and its players, please visit Dave
Mackey's web site at

Subject: What music is used in the "Roxbury Guys" sketch?

It is a song called "What is Love?" by the group Hadaway.  It is
available on Dance Mix 5 from Camelot Records.

Subject: Isn't one of the former players royalty?

Close, but no.  On 15 April 1996 Christopher Guest's father died and
he became Lord Haden-Guest, or more formally the "Fifth Baron
Haden-Guest of Saling in the County of Essex in the Peerage of the
United Kingdom".  He and Jamie Lee Curtis (Lady Haden-Guest) have
purchased a house in London and Christopher is now a member of the
House of Lords, although as of February 1997, he has not yet taken his
seat in the House.

Baron is a title of nobility, not royalty.  You can learn more about
titles at:

Subject: Who's in the cast?

Please see the posting "Saturday Night Live FAQ:  Quick Bios".

Subject: What else have they been in?

Please see the posting "Saturday Night Live FAQ:  Other Credits".

Subject: How can I learn more about SNL?

See the posting "Saturday Night Live FAQ:  References".  It contains
a list of books and articles about the show.

Subject: Why is SNL so bad recently?

Flamebait!  Flamebait!  :-)

Subject: Thanks

Thanks for help go to:

  The cast and crew of "Saturday Night"
  Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad (co-authors of 'Saturday Night:  A backstage
    history of Saturday Night Live')
  levy michael ( bs cmsc) <>
  Jonathan Frome <>
  Jeffrey Neau <>
  Philip O'Connell <>
  Bill Dennen <>
  Dave Mackey <>
  Jarret Cooper <>
  Eddie Tillis <>
  Matt Fox <>
  Cader <>
  William Lambert <>
  Bob <>
  Richard Wells <>
  Will Pacer <>
  Dana Holm Howard <>
  Lonnie Wolf <>

Subject: How to get a current copy of the FAQ

If this document is out of date, the latest version can be
obtained from one of these sources:

Please send any corrections or new information to

'Weekend Update recognizes our responsibility to present opposing view-
points whenever we're in the mood.' -Chevy Chase (Saturday Night - 05/29/1976)

       Doug Krause
"The circle is now complete.  The Circle of Life!" -Mufasa Vader

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