Canadians a big part of top funny moments
Its famous tag line is: “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”
But given the number of Canadian comics that have graced Studio 8H at 30 Rockefeller Center, we could legitimately add “eh!” to the end of that motto.
Saturday Night Live celebrates its 40th anniversary with a starpacked special on Sunday, and it never would have survived to that point without Lorne Michaels, the Toronto visionary who created the sketch comedy institution in 1975 and shepherded it through most of the ensuing decades.
Here’s a look at five SNL Canadian cast members — and their best character creations: 1. Dan Aykroyd (1975-79): One of the original Not Ready For Prime Time Players, Aykroyd established his demented point of view through such wacky characters as the alien patriarch Beldar Conehead, Czech brother and self-described “wild and crazy guy” Yortuk Festrunk, and the “Bass-o-Matic” TV huckster. His most enduring character may be Elwood Blues of the Blues Brothers, the rhythm-and-blues siblings (led by John Belushi’s frontman Jake Elwood) whose popularity transcended the show. Runners-up: Julia Child-inspired “The French Chef,” Jimmy Carter and Weekend Update co-host to Jane Curtin. 2. Martin Short (1984-85): Short arrived with Ed Grimley, Irving Cohen and Jackie Rogers Jr. already formed from his SCTV days, injecting polished lunacy into the series. One of the most hilarious has to be Lawrence Orback, who with brother Gerald (Harry Shearer) was a male synchronized swimmer hoping for a berth at the ‘88 Olympics. Never mind there is no such category and Lawrence can’t swim. Runners-up: Jerry Lewis and Katharine Hepburn. 3. Phil Hartman (1986-1994): It’s hard to choose just one from the several dozen characters and impressions the late Hartman unleashed. The versatile funnyman established himself as one of the most reliable players. A quirky favourite: Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, whose legal arguments swayed jurors despite the fact he was “just a caveman” with a “primitive mind,” who nevertheless drove a BMW. Runners-up: Bill Clinton, Frankenstein and Frank Sinatra. 4. Mike Myers (1989-1995): Myers earns the distinction of having spawned what’s considered the biggest Hollywood crossover from SNL — Wayne’s World and cableaccess TV star Wayne Campbell. The long-haired slacker, along with best friend Garth (Dana Carvey) coined catchphrases (“Party on!” and “Schwing!”) while playing air guitar, discussing “babes” and worshipping Aerosmith. Runners-up: turtleneck-clad German artist Dieter, Jewish New Yorker Linda Richman and Chicago Bears superfan Pat Arnold. 5. Norm Macdonald (1993-1998) : Macdonald is arguably best known for his ignoble exit from SNL, which followed a controversial stint in the Weekend Update chair where he took cracks at Michael Jackson, Frank Stallone and especially O.J. Simpson. He was one of those cast members viewers either loved or hated, and his willingness to tackle taboo topics only made each camp more rooted in their passion. Runners-up: Burt Reynolds, Larry King and Bob Dole.