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DID YOU READ

10 “Saturday Night Live” stars who aren’t famous from “Saturday Night Live”

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“Saturday Night Live” has been around for nearly 40 years, and it’s known as a career maker. In the 1970s, the cast included such luminaries as Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, and Chevy Chase. The ‘80s brought us Phil Hartman, Dana Carvey, Eddie Murphy and Mike Myers, the ‘90s gave us Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Jimmy Fallon and Will Ferrell – and the ‘00s hit us with Tina Fey, Amy Poehler Kristen Wiig… the list is long and full of amusing people we like. Hell, we even got Senator Al Franken out of that show.

However, “SNL” isn’t an automatic guarantee of success – it just feels like it is most of the time. There are plenty of people that have been on the show that never really broke out until after their time on the show – or, in the case of a couple of tumultuous years in the show’s tenure, were already famous before they came on. So here’s a rundown of some celebrities who were on “SNL,” but had to find other ways to actually forge successful careers. Take a look at these famous people we tend to forget were ever on the most enduring comedy launchpad of our time.


1. Gilbert Gottfried

It was the year of “SNL” that nobody likes to talk about – the 1980-81 season, when all of the original Not Ready For Prime Time Players left, including Lorne Michaels, and the show had to recast from scratch under new honcho Jean Doumanian. It was supposed to be Al Franken, but Al’s never been one to hold his tongue, so when he mocked NBC’s president on a Weekend Update sketch, he lost the gig. Sure, this is the year Eddie Murphy joined the cast at 19, but it was also the year where everything went to hell and the show was constantly on the edge of cancellation and nobody liked it – heck, it even had Laurie Metcalf, later of “Roseanne” only long enough for one episode. There was a lot of turmoil However, it’s an opportunity to see Gilbert doing comedy that’s not in his squinty-eyed scream-joke manner that he’s famous for today. You can also see that “SNL” used to do a lot more long-form comedy.


2. Julia Louis-Dreyfus

She made her way into our national consciousness as Elaine Benes from “Seinfeld,” and she endures to this day on the critically acclaimed show “Veep,” but from 1982 to 1985, she was on “SNL” at just 21 years of age. Interestingly, her future husband, Brad Hall, was the anchor on the “Weekend Update” spot during that era, too. The early ‘80s made for the most tense and tricky era of the show, as it was going through myriad creative changes from the top down, and there were a lot of frustrations behind the scenes with writers and producers in the age-old battle between creativity and marketability.


3. Billy Crystal

You know him, you love him, you tend to want him to host the Oscars. In 1984, Eddie Murphy left the show, and with him went the whole Joe Piscopo era, as new showrunner Dick Ebersol tried to make up for losing his star by bringing on a bunch of other established stars. Along with “SCTV” star Martin Short and some folks from HBO’s comedy hit “Not Necessarily The News” (not to mention Larry David being a writer who quit mid-season), Crystal came on board already known for his stand-up work and starring on the hit show “Soap.” This was only for one year, but he certainly made his mark with characters like Fernando Lamas – he even got a hit novelty song out of “You Look Marvelous.” Thanks to this.


4. Christopher Guest

Along with fellow “Spinal Tap” star and Credibility Gap collaborator Harry Shearer (who had also been a cast member in 1979), Guest was on board with the Crystal year as well, even working as the Weekend Update anchor. He’s much more renowned now for his improve-based films like “Best In Show,” “A Mighty Wind,” and “Waiting For Guffman,” but one thing we loved back in his “SNL” year were the Frankie & Willie sketches he did with Crystal. Also, Michael McKean would complete the “Spinal Tap” trifecta when he came on board for an attempted redux of this all-star idea in 1994. It didn’t work so well.


5. Randy Quaid

The 1985 season got rid of most of the previous cast as Lorne Michaels came back into the fold, but also featured a number of one-year only players you often forget ever played there. Quaid was already nominated for an Academy Award at this point for “The Last Detail,” and his profile was big with “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” On this season, though, he was the guy playing President Reagan and various other weird roles. And of course, these days we think of him as some kind of paranoid crazy guy.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.