'Saturday Night Live' at 40: The current cast in 'Live from New York'
As “Saturday Night Live” begins Season 40, we celebrate with quotes from the newly updated “Live from New York” book by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales.
As “Saturday Night Live” begins its 40th season this weekend, we celebrate with some choice quotes from the newly revised and updated “Live from New York” book by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales. The two authors spoke with almost every single living cast member for the 30th anniversary edition in 2004 and over the past decade, they have collected new anecdotes from those same people as well as anecdotes from many of the current members of the cast (by the way, where are the Good Neighbor guys?). One common thread runs through the narrative: Working at "SNL" is intense!
“My first season or two there was a Huffington Post article that ranked cast members on a weekly basis. They had their own algorithm of screen time — who did what, what is the best sketch — and I was the worst. I was just the worst! It’s a dangerous pitfall. With a forty-year history, there’s so much to compare yourself to. The shadow grows longer and darker the longer the show goes on. Now we’re not just compared to the original ’75 cast, we’re compared to six generations, versus the people who came before were compared to five.”
“I think that no matter what the setup of the cast is, people will always have an opinion of what it should be. People will always have an opinion. What people think about ‘SNL,” they feel a lot of ownership over it. It’s like a sports team; they really have strong opinions about who should be here and what should be on the show and everything, so it is a blessing and a curse.”
“I can't even watch the show the same way now. It seems like a totally different show now that I'm on it It's crazy. It's crazy to imagine your picture at some point in that long line of head shots that we have up there on the wall. Eventually you'll get to your picture.”
“Every time I have a meeting with Lorne, I assume I’m getting fired. It’s like seeing a doctor and you assume they’re going to tell you that you have AIDS, even if it’s a dentist.”
“In my mind, this is my last job. I am preparing for that being the reality. Obviously I hope that I have a long career because I would feel bad if I couldn’t work. Anything else beyond this would be icing on the cake.”
“There was a thirty-day period between when I auditioned and when I found out that I was on the show. I didn’t want to talk about it, but I guess I saw people at theaters or wherever and it was like, ‘So do you know anything?’ and ‘What’s the process like?’ — And I just didn’t want to talk to people. So to avoid that, I stayed in bed all the time.”
“I’ll stay here as long as they’ll have me. This was my dream, and I should be thinking more about the future and more about movies, but I’m still worried. When I walk out this door, I want to be able to say to myself, ‘You did what you wanted to do and be happy with it.’”
“You’ll have a role here that’s not really funny — you’re a team player and everything’s about being a team player. In everything. That’s how people get to the Super Bowl.”
“For the first four or five shows I had almost no lines — maybe one line here, one line for the next week. And then all of a sudden I hosted a ‘presidential debate,’ and that was, like, a huge switch, and there was a lot on my shoulders for a change. And because it was a town hall debate, it was this really insane cue-card setup where they were shooting over my shoulder, so that meant I could not have any cards in front of me, because they would be in the shot. It was very stressful and very crazy because for a while they were like, ‘You might have to memorize the whole thing, but we’re going to change it,’ so it was, like, this insane big moment that I could tell was a make or break.”
“There’s a lot more anxiety in being the head writer. You feel a responsibility for the show. Obviously, it’s Lorne’s show and there’s no question about that, but you feel a responsibility. It changes from being a really fun job to being a challenging and stressful job.”