40 Years of Saturday Nights



Lorne Michaels and featured cast members during the Goodnights and Credits.

Helen Burdier, Entertainment Editor

Saturday nights, since 1975, have been filled with celebrity hosts, skits, and impersonations courtesy of NBC’s Saturday Night Live. On Sunday night, the show moved its time slot for a three and a half hour special devoted to honoring its 40th anniversary, and it was like a family reunion.

Like a family reunion, the audience, which was composed of cast members and former hosts/performers, were shown memories. Instead of the memories coming in the form of grandma’s scrapbook, they came in the form of clips and the opening musical number of Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon. The duo’s song showcased the famous catchphrases, one-liners, and characters that SNL gave birth to, such as Dan Aykroyd and Steve Martin’s “Two Wild and Crazy Guys,” Weekend Update’s Stefon, “More Cowbell,” and The Blues Brothers. 

The special, again following a family reunion formula, featured everyone. Steve Martin was there, with jokes about the shows lack of diversity, and so was Adam Sandler, who dusted off his Opera Man costume. Other former featured players who showed up were Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, Chevy Chase, Maya Rudolph (or Beyonce, as she appeared on stage), Martin Short, and Dana Carvey and Mike Myers, who both pulled out their Wayne’s World personas out of storage. Even those who weren’t there, were there, like Gilda Radnor, whose Roseanne Roseannadanna character was played by Emma Stone and Chris Farley’s motivational speaker character, Matt Foley, was played by Melissa McCarthy. Even Brian Williams was there in spirit after being made fun of by Jerry Seinfeld and Jim Carrey.

SNL wouldn’t be SNL without impersonating some celebrities, on Sunday night this void was filled with a game of Jeopardy. Will Ferrel played the part of host Alex Trebek, and his famous contestants were Darrell Hammond reprising his part as Trebek-hating Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin as Tony Bennett, Kate McKinnen as an eye-squinting and lip-biting Justin Bieber, and Jim Carrey as Matthew McConaughey. The featured categories were “State Your Name,” “Letters That Begin With ‘G’,” and “Famous Oprahs.” Another pivotal part of any SNL episode is Weekend Update, which on sunday’s special, featured Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Jane Curtain.

Also, throughout the show there were clip segments focusing on particular topics. One segment, introduced by current cast members Leslie Jones and Pete Davidson, focused on auditions of comedians that were hired, and some that were not – Kevin Hart, Stephen Colbert, Jim Carrey, and Zach Galifianakis. Another segment was a digital short, courtesy of Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg, that played homage to SNL alumni  who laughed during their sketches to the tune of Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best.” 

Several former cast members were also honored. Eddie Murphy was honored by Chris Rock, who claimed Murphy was the reason he didn’t become “the funny UPS driver in Queens” or why Tina Fey didn’t become the “funniest English Professor at Drexel University.” Cast members that had passed away were also honored in an “In Memoriam” segment, assisted by Paul McCartney’s voice.

The 40th anniversary special had its ups and down, could have had some skits cut out, and should have utilized Kristin Wiig and Bill Hader more, but in general it succeeded in its task: honoring the show that made the nation laugh on saturdays and created stars that will continue to make us laugh.