Rolling Stone

18 Saturday Night Live

NBC 1975-present


Across parts of six decades, SNL has minted stars (John Belushi, Eddie Murphy, Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, and too many others to name), made catchphras­es go viral (from “We are two wild and crazy guys!” to “I live in a van, down by the river!” to “More cowbell!!!” to “This place has everything!”), brought down political candidates (people still think Sarah Palin, not Tina Fey-as-Palin, said, “I can see Russia from my house!”), and redefined TV sketch comedy many times over. It’s also been pronounced “Saturday Night Dead” on multiple occasions, and it’s a truth that everyone’s favorite SNL cast is the one from when they were in high school. But even when our expectatio­ns outstrip the show’s fundamenta­lly uneven execution — as creator Lorne Michaels (who has run all but a handful of the 47-plus seasons) says, “The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30” — the very idea of comedy being performed live from Studio 8H still feels intoxicati­ng, no matter the era or ensemble making it.

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