How Well Do You Know Saturday Night Live?
Over 40 years ago, a young Canadian comedy writer walked into the offices of the Canadian Broadcasting Network. He had had some relative success writing for a few hour-long comedy specials, but he was far from a big name. He had one objective – pitch his new idea to the network. He envisioned taking an otherwise unpopular block of television – late night Saturday – and transforming it into must-see. He proposed a 90 minute block of a variety hour, something that hailed back to the early days of vaudeville, replete with comedy sketches and musical performances. The catch: it would only work live.
The network balked, remarking, “If you’re so funny, why aren’t you in the States?”
This is an attitude that has plagued Canadian television for years – that in trying to establish a culture different from their Southern neighbours, their own insecurity (and insufficient budget) has instead forced actual talent to the U.S. The homegrown shows play like pale-imitations of what is found on NBC, CBS, and FOX.
It goes without saying by now that the young writer was Lorne Michaels, and he would see his idea come to fruition on NBS on October 11, 1975, when NBC’s Saturday Night debuted. 42 years and a name change later, despite the show’s popularity rising and falling dramatically, it remains the cultural barometer it has always been.
SNL is currently experiencing one of its largest, most recent upswings thanks in large part to Alec Baldwin‘s cartoonish, recurring Trump impersonation. But with over 40 years of backlog, a bit of a refresher course may be in order. How well do you know the show, behind and in front of the camera? Find out.
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