Saturday Night Live is an American late-night comedy variety show created by Lorne Michaels which has launched the careers of such comedians as Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, Ben Stiller, David Spade, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock and Rob Schneider.
Over the years, Saturday Night Live has launched the careers of many of the brightest comedy performers of a generation. The show premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, under the original title NBC's Saturday Night.
The show's comedy sketches, which parody contemporary culture and politics, are performed by a large and varying cast of repertory and newer cast members.
Each episode is hosted by a celebrity guest, who usually delivers an opening monologue and performs in sketches with the cast, and features performances by a musical guest.
An episode normally begins with a cold open sketch that ends with someone breaking character and proclaiming, "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!", beginning the show proper.
As the New York Times noted on the occasion of the show's Emmy-winning 25th Anniversary special in 1999: "In defiance of both time and show business convention, SNL [is] still the most pervasive influence on the art of comedy in contemporary culture."
At the close of the century, Saturday Night Live placed seventh on Entertainment Weekly's list of the Top 100 Entertainers of the past 50 years.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus was the first female cast member ever to come back and serve as host. Billy Crystal actually hosted SNL before becoming a cast member.
Only two people ever to have played the role of host, cast member, and musical guest. They are Dan Aykroyd and Michael McKean.
Steve Martin is the only host ever to host the show three times during a single season (1977-1978). It was comedian Albert Brooks' idea that there should be a different host every week when he turned down Lorne Michael's offer to be the show's permanent host.
Only one episode in the history of the show has been filmed outside of New York City: On February 20, 1977, the show was broadcast live from New Orleans.
Lorne Michaels famously offered The Beatles $3,000 to reunite on SNL. Allegedly, Paul McCartney and John Lennon saw the broadcast and considered rushing down to the studio to perform.
Though never a regular cast member, SNL writer Michael O'Donahue uttered the first words ever spoken on Saturday Night live.
At 17 years old, Anthony Michael Hall became the youngest cast member ever when he joined the show in 1985. The oldest actor to join the cast was Michael McKean, who was 46 when he became a cast member in 1994.
Saturday Night Live is broadcast live from NBC's famed Studio 8H in New York City's Rockefeller Center. The program is a production of Broadway Video in association with SNL Studios. Lorne Michaels is the executive producer.
Saturday Night Live premiered in the USA on NBC on 11 October, 1975.
The series premiered in South Africa on DStv's M-Net Series Channel on Saturday 2 July, 2005, beginning with Season 25. It moved to DStv's Comedy Central channel from Season 37.