Saturday Night Live has been around for nearly 40 years, and the iconic sketch show has featured numerous hosts, musical guests and cast members in that time period. The show is known for counting the most popular comedians of the day among its regular cast and it's a consistently popular formula but as with all irreverent comedy shows, controversy is never far behind.
Things haven't always gone smoothly at 30 Rockefeller Plaza where the legendary comedy show is filmed. Since the show’s start in 1975, there have been plenty of controversial moments that have left audience members and home viewers – if the gaffes made it to air – in shock. Since the show is taped live, curse words have made it to air numerous times but were cut from later broadcasts. Most of the cases of cursing were slip-ups that were not really the fault of any of the performers, but sometimes they were musical acts refusing to self-censor their songs.
Indeed, some of the controversial incidents in the show’s history were so shocking that producer Lorne Michaels banned the perpetrators from ever returning to the show again - there are said to be 14 celebrities banned from appearing on Saturday Night Live following controversial transgressions. Elvis Costello is the only celebrity to have a Saturday Night Live ban lifted. Some of the shocking moments in the show’s history were politically motivated and some resulted in costly fines for the network. We've taken a look at the ten most shocking of these controversial moments in Saturday Night Live history.
10 Jenny Slate Drops the F-bomb
9 Norm Macdonald Says SNL Sucks
8 Martin Lawrence's Sexist Rant
7 Ashlee Simpson Caught Lip-syncing
6 Don’t Tell Elvis Costello What to do
5 Jimmy Fallon plays Scrooge as an effeminate homosexual
4 Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic French kiss
3 Chevy Chase says the n-word
2 Sinead O'Connor tears up the Pope’s picture
1 Punk band Fear completely trashes the SNL set
John Belushi wanted Fear to perform as musical guests during the 1981 season of SNL to compensate for the fact they were fired from being involved in the soundtrack for Belushi’s film Neighbors. NBC brass agreed to let the band perform during the Halloween episode, but little did they know the group and its mosh-pit loving fans would cause an estimated $20,000 worth of damage to the set and nearly instigate a riot. The band's performance was cut short and the television feed dropped when things really started to get out of control as Fear started to play "Let’s Have a War." Fear was banned from SNL and had trouble booking gigs following the disaster; promoters were afraid the band would trash their venues.
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