The Best Of ‘Saturday Night Live’ Decade By Decade

Saturday Night Live and I were born in 1975, and we grew up together. My first TV memory is from 1978 and Steve Martin’s Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber, prescribing a liberal bloodletting to all who entered his shop. (A 3-year-old watching SNL? Take that up with my mom.)

Back in my day, we didn’t have on-demand video or smartphones to watch SNL. We had to watch it live on TV or we taped it with a VCR and had to FF through  Whitney Brown’s commentary so we could finally watch Jon Lovitz’s Annoying Man. That’s the way it was, and we liked it!

Say what you will about SNL’s current quality, ratings or relevance. I celebrate the entire body of work, because the catchphrases, the characters, the commentary, the politics, the parody, and the performers and writers who presented it impacted pop culture and me, personally, in incomprehensible ways.

the 49th season just wrapped and celebrations for the big 5-0 are underway with a big special coming next February. Here’s hoping SNL and I will still kick, stretch and kick when we’re 50.

Live From New York, its 50 Years of Saturday Night Live!

The Early Years of SNL


All images Courtesy of Everett Collection

All-Star Cast: Dan Aykroyd, John BelushiChevy Chase, Jane CurtinGarrett Morris, Bill Murray, Laraine Newman, Gilda Radner

Memories: George Carlin hosts first episode on Oct. 11, 1975, with musical guests Billy Preston and Janis Ian. Julia Child cuts the dickens out of her finger. OH NOOOOO! Bad things happen to Mr. Bill. Super Bass-O-Matic ’76 gives you fish fast and easy and ready to pour! What’s all this fuss Emily Litella hears about conserving natural racehorses? Candygram! The Land Shark may strike at anytime, anyplace. The Coneheads are probably not from France. The Festrunk brothers are two wild and crazy guys! Samurai Futaba is unexpectedly good at TV repair. Jane, you ignorant slut!

Defining ’70s Host/Musical Guest: Elliott Gould/Anne Murray

In Summary: Cheeseburger! Cheeseburger! Cheeseburger!

Eddie Murphy is Gumby, Dammit!


All images Courtesy of Everett Collection

All-Star Cast: Eddie Murphy, Joe Piscopo, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Billy Crystal, Martin Short, Jon Lovitz, Dennis Miller, Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks, Kevin Nealon, Nora Dunn, Victoria Jackson

Memories: The Godfather of Soul invites you to “James Brown’s Celebrity Hot Tub Party.” I am Gumby, dammit! Viewers vote to ban Andy Kaufman from SNL forever. Buckwheat has been shot! Ed Grimley goes completely mental. Fernando looks mahvelous. The Sweeney Sisters swing. Hans & Franz want to pump you up! The Church Lady asks, “Could it beeeee SATAN?” Toonces the Driving Cat drives around all over the town. What does the Unfrozen Cave Man Lawyer know? He’s just a caveman. President Bush is not gonna do it! If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap!

Defining ’80s Host/Musical Guest: Justine Bateman/Terence Trent D’Arby

In Summary: Well, isn’t that special?!

The Funniest Years


All images Courtesy of Everett Collection

All-Star Cast: Chris Farley, Tim Meadows, Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, David Spade, Mike Myers, Rob Schneider, Julia Sweeney, Norm MacDonald, Molly Shannon, Cheri Oteri, Darrell Hammond, Chris Kattan, Will Ferrell, Tracy Morgan, Ana Gasteyer

Memories: Party on, Wayne! Party on, Garth! Doggone it, people like Stuart Smalley. Now is the time on “Sprockets” when we dance. Who’s he or she? It’s Pat! Da Bears give Bill Swerski’s Superfans heart attacks. Makin’ copies with the Richmeister. Motivational speaker Matt Foley lives in a van down by the river! Nat X fights against The Man. Remember “The Chris Farley Show”? That was awesome. Farley and Patrick Swayze dance off at the Chippendales audition. Mary Katherine Gallagher is a superstar! The Spartans have the perfect cheer. You can’t have the Mango! The Butabi brothers rave at the Roxbury. Middle-school music teachers Marty and Bobbi Culp have a hot mic. The pen is mightier for Sean Connery on “Celebrity Jeopardy!”

Defining ’90s Host/Musical Guest: David Schwimmer/Natalie Merchant

In Summary: SCHWING!

The New Millenium


All images Courtesy of Everett Collection

All-Star Cast: Jimmy Fallon, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Horatio Sanz, Tina Fey, Chris Parnell, Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, Fred Armisen, Will Forte, Kenan Thompson, Jason Sudeikis, Andy Samberg, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig

Memories: Nomar is wicked awesome! Debbie Downer kills the mood. Roger and Virginia Klarvin are passionate lovers. Astronaut Jones is taking a rocket. Talkin’ it up on “The Barry Gibb Talk Show.” “Lazy Sunday” raps about cupcakes and the Chronic-WHAT?-cles of Narnia. Vincent Price hosts campy holiday specials. ¡Ay dios mío! It’s the “¡Showbiz Grande Explosion!” Ashlee Simpson walks offstage after lip-synch technical glitch. MacGruber runs out of time. The Lonely Island has a surprise gift (Hint: It’s in a box). Tina Fey does a spot-on Sarah Palin impression, dontchathink?

Defining ’00s Host/Musical Guest: Dane Cook/James Blunt

In Summary: I gotta have more cowbell, baby!

Kenan Thompson is STILL on


All-Star Cast: Bobby Moynihan, Nasim Pedrad, Vanessa Bayer, Jay Pharoah, Taran Killam, Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Cecily Strong

Memories: Gilly is sorry. Jacob has a star-studded bar mitzvah. Drunk Uncle has regrettable opinions. Next on “The Californians.” The Target Lady has some thoughts about your purchases. Seth Meyers and Stefon live happily ever after. Princess Leia has poor eyesight in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer. Hobbits labor away in “The Office: Middle Earth.”

Defining ’10s Host/Musical Guest: Josh Hutcherson/HAIM

In Summary: What Up With That?

SNL will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a Primetime special on NBC in 2025 on Sunday, February 16.

Classic Comedy Duos
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Classic Comedy Duos

March 2021

Chuckle at television & films funniest comic duos.

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