Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!
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"Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!" is a famous phrase typically featured on the American sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, which runs on the NBC broadcast network. It is generally used as a way to end a cold opening sketch and lead into the opening titles/montage and cast introductions for the program.
During the show's first season, the show was known simply as NBC's Saturday Night, due to the existence of an ABC show titled Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell. This is how the phrase received its wording. The phrase was kept intact even after ABC's SNL was canceled and NBC's Saturday Night adopted the SNL name for itself.
The phrase is typically spoken by a host, cast member(s), and/or musical guest, and has been used in every season except one (the 1981-1982 season, the first full season with Dick Ebersol as producer). It was first said live on air by Chevy Chase, on SNL's first show on October 11, 1975. For all but two of the first season's 24 episodes, Chase delivered the phrase after a pratfall of some kind. Even when the show is not aired on a Saturday—such as the eight Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday specials aired from 2008 to 2012—the traditional line is used.
Readings by special guests
In recent years, the line has occasionally been given to a non-host/non-cast member for cameo purposes. This could be for stars like Brad Pitt and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, or for more unusual celebrities like Monica Lewinsky, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire winner John Carpenter, WWE chairman Vince McMahon (on March 18, 2000), Carolyn Kepcher (on April 3, 2004), and Al Sharpton (on November 2, 2013).
Presidents and Presidential hopefuls
A series of Presidential and Vice Presidential hopefuls have announced the phrase on their appearances on the program, beginning with Bob Dole on November 16, 1996 (coming after the 1996 election). It was announced by Barack Obama on November 3, 2007, by Hillary Clinton on March 1, 2008, by Sarah Palin on October 18, 2008, and by John McCain on November 1, 2008. Gerald Ford also opened the show with the phrase, which he did when Ron Nessen hosted.
There have been multiple variations on the line.
- For Saturday Night Live's first season, all episodes except for two included original cast member Chevy Chase yelling "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!" after he had performed a pratfall. For the first episode of the series, however, original cast members John Belushi and Michael O'Donoghue performed the pratfalls. After they had fallen, Chase came in, looking like a stage manager, and said "Live from the New York, it's Saturday Night!" when he noticed the camera.
- The convention of opening the show with the line has itself been the subject of some of the cold openings. An early case of this was a March 1977 episode in which castmember John Belushi refused to say the line until a list of his demands were met. His plan was foiled when he was tricked into saying the line while reading a note that had been handed to him.
- On the May 17, 1980 episode's cold opening, Don Novello's Father Guido Sarducci character went to London hoping to get an exclusive Weekend Update interview with Paul McCartney, who was the musical guest, but was unsuccessful due to the different time zones between New York and London. In order to start off the show, Father Guido had a random pedestrian say "Live from New York, and London, it's Saturday Night!", which led off to the opening credits.
- In the last episode of the 1970s, hosted by Ted Knight on December 22, 1979, Bill Murray in character as the exiled Shah of Iran proclaimed "Live from New York, and Panama, it's Saturday Night!", in light of his stay in the country of Panama at the time.
- For the 1981-1982 season, the opening line was moved from the end of the cold open to the opening montage, changed to "And now, from New York, the most dangerous city in America, it's Saturday Night Live", uttered by Mel Brandt, except for two episodes that aired in December 1981 when veteran NBC News announcer Bill Hanrahan handled such duties.
- In 1982, while still a castmember, Eddie Murphy was asked to host the show in place of his 48 Hrs. co-star, Nick Nolte. Murphy altered the line to "Live from New York, it's the Eddie Murphy Show!". Two months later, host Lily Tomlin chided Murphy about this in the cold opening, then proclaimed, "Live from New York, it's the Lily Tomlin Show!".
- In the 1983 episode jointly hosted by Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, the cold opening parodied Brooke Shields' Calvin Klein jeans commercials. In it. Andie McDowel (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) receives a pie in the face. After she is hit, Dreyfus begins to give the famous line. However, after getting as far as "Live from New York, it's...", she is then surprised with an unexpected second pie in her face and does not finish the line.
- The November 8, 1986 episode hosted by Rosanna Arquette remains the only episode of SNL to have been prerecorded in advance of its eventual airdate due to being originally slated for broadcast on October 25, 1986. The airing was postponed due to Game 6 of the 1986 World Series going into extra innings. When the episode aired two weeks later than recorded, New York Mets pitcher Ron Darling appeared in the cold opening which explained, to the Mets' horror, that Game 6 caused the first preemption in SNL's history. After apologizing for the preemption, Darling delivered the phrase even though the rest of the episode, except for Dennis Miller's Weekend Update for that week, had been prerecorded.
- On the February 23, 1991 episode, The McLaughlin Group parody had Dana Carvey (as John McLaughlin) asked his panelists how the show starts, and after shouting down their recitation of the opening line with a loud "WRONG!!", he opened the show with, "Show, show, show. Here we go!". A subsequent installment had Carvey telling everybody they were wrong, only to then say, "I'm only kidding. Start the show!"
- On the February 28, 1998 episode, Will Ferrell, playing Saddam Hussein, opens the show with "Live-time from the New York, it's the Saturday fun hour!".
- On February 6, 1999, while Bill Clinton's Senate trial was winding down at the time, Darrell Hammond (playing Clinton gives an Oval Office address assuring the American public that he will not gloat over his certain victory. However, the events occurring behind and around him suggest otherwise. Streamers are put up on the windows; Hillary, Al Gore, Vernon Jordan and Monica Lewinsky drink beer; Clinton holds up a picture of a horse's posterior instead of a picture of House impeachment manager Henry Hyde (thanks to an "honest mistake" during a tribute); and Betty Currie dances to "Chain of Fools". At the end, Clinton drops the facade and opens the show with "Live, from New York, it's Gloatin' Time!"
- In February, 2001, Jennifer Lopez hosted for the first time. After a cold opening sketch in which producer Lorne Michaels and various male castmembers obsess over Lopez's posterior, Tracy Morgan shouted, "Live from New York, it's Jennifer Lopez's booty!". Incidentally, this episode was not live; it was tape-delayed 45 minutes because of an XFL game going into double-overtime.
- In the first show aired after the September 11 attacks, the show opened with Paul Simon leading a performance of a sentimental musical number —the Simon & Garfunkel song "The Boxer". Simon was standing with cast members and with New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani. After the song was over, Lorne Michaels asked Giuliani, "Can we be funny?". The remark was met by nervous laughter, which gave way to great applause when Giuliani responded, "Why start now?". After this, Giuliani delivered the phrase, which was met with more applause.
- On October 28, 2006, Sacha Baron Cohen —in character as Borat Sagdiyev— was featured on the show, promoting his film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan and delivered the line as "Alive from New York—home of the Jew— it's Saturday night!".
- On April 7, 2012, Jason Sudeikis as Mitt Romney remarked, "There's that unforgettable opening that we know so well: 'Hey, New York, let's start the show!'"; Bill Hader then yelled the normal version of the line from off-screen, to which "Romney" replied, "Yeah, exactly, what he said. That's right".
- One variation was Jason Sudeikis, portraying Wolf Blitzer, yelling "Live from New York!" and then mumbling the rest of the line.
- The puppet Toonces the Driving Cat meowed the line, with English subtitles.
- The line has been said in Spanish ("En vivo desde Nueva York, ¡es Sábado por la Noche!") three times (by Gilda Radner, Chris Farley, and the tandem of Will Ferrell and Julia Stiles).
- On the November 7, 2015 episode, hosted by Donald Trump, Larry David (playing presidential candidate Bernie Sanders) opened the show with "Live from New York... ah, you get it!".
In popular culture
In the Friends episode entitled, "The One with Joey's Award", Phoebe Buffay is giving a mock acceptance speech (receiving a Nobel Prize for a massage) when she suddenly stops and shouts, "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!". Lisa Kudrow, who played Phoebe, actually auditioned for a spot on SNL, and did host the show.
In the 2015 film Goosebumps, based on the children's book series of the same name, Jillian Bell's character walks into the kitchen of her sister and nephew's new house, who have just moved to Delaware from New York, and greets them "Live from New York, it's my sister Gale with special guest my nephew Zach!". Bell had previously auditioned for SNL and though she did not join the cast, she became a writer for the show for the thirty-fifth season.
In the 2015 film Ted 2, when news of Ted's (voiced by Seth McFarlane) court loss about him not being a "real person" appears on multiple news programs, one of the shows he was searching through was SNL where a cold open was parodying his court case, after which the three main cast members shouted the phrase. Cast members Taran Killam, Kate McKinnon, and Bobby Moynihan made cameo appearances.
On the July 19, 2016 episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Laura Benanti (the impersonator of Melania Trump) finished her "un-plagiarized" "defense" speech, starting to say "Live from New York, it's Saturday..." before Colbert interrupted, shouting "no!" and the title card of the show appearing on the screen.