5/26/10 - saturday night live

In today's excerpt - reflections from the stars and satellites of the early years of Saturday Night Live, at a point when cast members were first achieving superstardom:

LARAINE NEWMAN, cast member: "There was one point in the second season where we were onstage rehearsing a Nerd sketch or something, and we were all talking about what we were naming our corporations. And I think it was Gilda who said, 'Listen to us, for God's sake. We're talking about our corporations! What's happened? We've joined the establishment.' And we were really kind of being hurled into all the trappings of a successful adult life at a young age."

BILL MURRAY, cast member: "When you become famous, you've got like a year or two where you act like a real asshole. You can't help yourself. It happens to everybody. You've got like two years to pull it together—or it's permanent."

STEVE MARTIN, host: "When you're young, you have way fewer taboo topics, and then as you go through life and you have experiences with people getting cancer and dying and all the things you would have made fun of, then you can't make fun of them anymore. So rebelliousness really is the province of young people—that kind of iconoclasm."

DAN AYKROYD, cast member: "It's too stressful, because you worry about quality, you want things to be so right, and that really weighs heavily—plus the adrenaline pump, it's like being in combat or a cop or something. You can't take that week after week. It's a young man's game, there's no doubt about it. It is satisfying when you pull something off, and it is tremendously debilitating and anxiety-producing when you don't."

JOHN LANDIS, film director: "I've seen this attributed to John Lennon, but I know [SNL writer] Michael O'Donoghue said it, because I was there when we heard Elvis died. My secretary came in and she said, 'Elvis is dead,' and Michael O'Donoghue said, 'Good career move.' "


Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller


Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live


Little, Brown and Company


Copyright 2002 by Thomas W. Shales and Jimmy the Writer, Inc.


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