Arts & Entertainment

Original 'SNL' cast member talks first live coast-to-coast screening

File: The SNL stage on  display during a media preview on May 29, 2015 at the Saturday Night Live: The Exhibition, celebrating the NBC programs 40-year history.
File: The SNL stage on display during a media preview on May 29, 2015 at the Saturday Night Live: The Exhibition, celebrating the NBC programs 40-year history.
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

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Unless you live somewhere along the East Coast, chances are you've never seen the country's largest live late-night comedy sketch show the way it's meant to be viewed — live. 

For more than four decades, people have become used to hearing “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!” when they tune in. This weekend, that three-hour delay will be eliminated for the first time since the debut of "Saturday Night Live" on NBC on Oct. 11, 1975. 

Skeptics who say it’s the same show no matter what time you watch it are not exactly right. Take it from Laraine Newman, an original cast member and native Angeleno, who spoke with Alex Cohen on Morning Edition about the series' milestone. 

File: Comedian Chevy Chase, second from left, joins cast of NBC-TV's
File: Comedian Chevy Chase, second from left, joins cast of NBC-TV's "Saturday Night Live," Feb. 16, 1978 in New York. Others are, from left, Jane Curtin, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, and Laraine Newman.
Marty Lederhandler/AP

She recalls the f-bomb being dropped in the middle of a sketch during her time there, which stunned the cast and crew, but was shaken off by laughter.  

"I had time to go over to the control booth and see what was happening in there and it was like an oil painting. Everybody was just frozen in their place," Newman said. 

What would've been an entertaining spectacle never made it to the Los Angeles feed. So, it's safe to say there might've been plenty more blips West Coasters have missed out on since then. 

Here are some other interview highlights from their chat: 

When you’re live, do you ever think about how many people are watching you? 

For about two seconds, but not while you’re working. In the very first season, yes, I think all of us were cognizant of the fact that this was going nationwide but at the time, we were very new and we didn’t know what kind of ratings [we would get] ... We were kind of the red-headed stepchild of NBC because late night was kind of a graveyard and it wasn’t ["The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson Show."] 

'SNL' executive producer Lorne Michaels says it will allow the whole nation to enjoy the same joke in the same time. Do you think there’s something to the notion that this can bring the whole nation together? 

I think there is a wonderful thing about the whole nation knowing that they’re all seeing it at the same time. I can’t tell you how many people told me over the years, that they would make it an event — in their college dorm room or wherever — and I think this might foster the same familial sense of connection among everybody in the nation. Hopefully. 

You originated “Sherry the Valley Girl.” What do you think now that we’ll be watching live as it happens here in California — will the show be any more generous, or do you think they’ll be just as scathing about us Angelenos as ever? 

I love that sketch so much. I remember watching it and always thinking, ‘Oh god, I want to be on that sketch as Sherry, it would be so perfect.’ The first time I heard that they were going to do the 40th [anniversary show], I called up Lorne and said ‘If you’re going to do The Californians, I think it would be great if Sherry could be the matriarch.' I thought he would never give it another thought but later on I got a call from Fred Armisen and we got together to write some things. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4347ZE0NQM

A whopping 824 episodes later, the program format hasn't changed much. A celebrity host, musical guest and a live audience set the stage for a gaggle of comedy sketches that tackle everything from timely political shenanigans to pop culture mishaps.

This time around, comedy veteran and former cast member Jimmy Fallon will fill the host slot with musical guest Harry Styles. The show will air at 8:30 p.m. on this side of the country. And yes, it's still considered late-night TV even if it starts before 9 p.m. 

https://twitter.com/nbcsnl/status/851837185552666624?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet

The possibility of something big happening during this weekend's live show might be slim. Newman said the current cast is much more mature and sophisticated. But, who knows?