Saturday Night Live: The book by Alison Castle, book review: It covers the making of the show and its 40-year history


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The Independent Culture

On 11 October, 1975 at 11:30pm, NBC viewers who tuned in to the American network’s new late-night show saw a sketch featuring John Belushi repeating, in a thick foreign accent, nonsensical phrases about wolverines being read to him by head writer Michael O’Donoghue.

Abruptly, O’Donoghue clutched his heart and collapsed on to the floor. Belushi paused, raised his eyebrow, and then did the same. Posing as the stage manager, Chevy Chase entered the set and feigned confusion before breaking character and announcing to the camera: “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”

It was the birth of Saturday Night Live, a show that dared to take risks, challenge the censors, and celebrate the work of offbeat writerperformers. The list of alumni reads like a Who’s Who of the past four decades in comedy: John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Martin Short, Billy Crystal, Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, and Tina Fey to name a few.

Saturday Night Live: The Book covers both the making of the show and its remarkable 40-year history.