- Jane Curtin, an original cast member of SNL, admits that watching the show’s first five years back, she realized “not one thing was funny.”
- Curtin acknowledges that live and topical TV can become dated over time, and believes that SNL‘s early episodes didn’t hold up well.
- Despite her negative assessment, Curtin still finds the sketch “Bassomatic” from the early seasons to be funny.
Jane Curtin, an original cast member of Saturday Night Live, gets blunt about the show’s early seasons. When it debuted in 1975, the NBC sketch series had only seven performers in its regular ensemble. Curtin, along with the rest of the group, would go on to attain an elevated status in comedy circles. But that didn’t keep SNL from experiencing the early growing pains that many show face.
In an interview with PEOPLE, Curtin spoke about revisiting a compilation video of SNL‘s first five years. She watched it with her family, admitting that she realized watching those old episodes that “not one thing was funny.” The two-time Emmy winner does go on to mention aspects of those early episodes that stood out positively. In the quote below, Curtin is very open about the show’s flaws:
“We were sent the five year compilation video of Saturday Night Live’s first five years a few years ago, and I gave one to my daughter. We were out visiting her daughter one Christmas, and her husband said, ‘Have you ever watched any of these? And I said, ‘God, I haven’t seen them in a long time.’ He said, would you mind if we watch one? And I said, ’No, great! Pick one!’ So we sat around the TV, and I had that sort of anticipatory, open-mouth grin that people have when they’re waiting for something to happen, that they know is going to be really great. And … it never happened. It wasn’t funny. Not one thing was funny. There was not one utterance of a laugh or a giggle.”
“I think it was just one of those, you had to be there in the moment things. That’s what happens with live TV, and with topical TV. It gets dated after a while. Remember, this was almost 50 years ago. But after we rewatched, I was like, ‘That really wasn’t a very good show. It was terrible!’”
“See the Bassomatic, I still think it’s funny.”
Who Was In The Original SNL Cast?
Jane Curtin and John Belushi on Saturday Night Live, doing Weekend Update© Provided by ScreenRant
Along with Curtin, the original SNL cast featured Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Laraine Newman, Gilda Radner, and Garrett Morris. The first season also included the late actor George Coe, who was a cast member for only the debut episode, and Michael O’Donoghue (who was a cast member for the season’s final episode). SNL became a major stepping stone for comedy legends like Chase, Belushi, Radner, Newman, Morris, and Aykroyd.
The cast went on to have a strong legacy outside their association with SNL. Curtin has made several notable appearances in film and television, perhaps most notably as Dr. Mary Albright on the sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun. She is also well-known for her Emmy-winning performance as Allie Lowell in the series Katie & Allie. The resume of the cast serves as an indication that talented performers alone aren’t the only component of a successful SNL run.
Saturday Night Live has had ups and downs since, of course, but in its early days, the series was perhaps less prone to the types of jokes and standby sketches that have led the legendary sketch comedy to feel a little familiar and routine. Curtin echoes something closer to the other side of that argument, which is that there have always been flaws and shortcomings in the program.