Saturday Night Live (season 20)

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Saturday Night Live (season 20)
The title card for the twentieth season of Saturday Night Live.
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 20
Original network NBC
Original release September 24, 1994 (1994-09-24) – May 13, 1995 (1995-05-13)
Season chronology
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List of Saturday Night Live episodes

The twentieth season of Saturday Night Live, an American sketch comedy series, originally aired in the United States on NBC between September 24, 1994, and May 13, 1995.

Much like seasons six and eleven, this season was lambasted by critics for its decline in quality. Season twenty suffered from having sketches based on very thin premises, a high number of which focused on or mentioned O. J. Simpson's 1995 murder trial.

Much like the 1980–1981 season and the 1985–1986 season, NBC worried over SNL's decline in quality (and in the ratings) and initially decided that now would be the best time to pull the plug on the show once and for all. According to the prime time special Saturday Night Live in the '90s: Pop Culture Nation, Lorne Michaels credits this season as the closest he's ever been to being fired. In the end, the cast member firings and crew turnover resulting from this season represented the biggest involvement into the show's affairs by NBC executives since the 1980–1981 season and the biggest cast overhaul since the 1985–1986 season.[1]

This season saw the deaths of two SNL alumni: Danitra Vance and Michael O'Donoghue. The Sarah Jessica Parker-hosted episode featured a special appearance by Bill Murray, who introduced a clip of "Mr. Mike's Least Favorite Bedtime Stories" in O'Donoghue's memory.


Cast changes[edit]

Preceding the season 20 premiere, Phil Hartman, Melanie Hutsell, Rob Schneider, Sarah Silverman and Julia Sweeney had all left the show. In their places, the show hired Chris Elliott, Janeane Garofalo and Laura Kightlinger to the cast. Elliott and Garofalo were made repertory players, while Kightlinger was made a featured player.

As the season progressed, Morwenna Banks, Mark McKinney, and Molly Shannon were added to the cast. Jay Mohr stayed a featured player. Norm Macdonald was promoted to repertory status and made Weekend Update's latest anchor (though Kevin Nealon was no longer a Weekend Update anchor, he still remained on the show). McKinney was hired from the then-recently ended sketch show The Kids in the Hall, which was produced by Lorne Michaels.

Several cast members quit the show mid-season. Mike Myers left after the 21 January 1995 episode (exactly six years after his first episode on 21 January 1989), largely due to his increasing fame as a film star (notably with his role in 1992's Wayne's World).[2] Janeane Garofalo quit the show following the 25 February episode,[3] citing her unhappiness with the work environment and writing material. She would later call Saturday Night Live " unfair boys' club" and call many of the sketches "juvenile and homophobic." Al Franken's final appearance as a featured player was on 6 May following the box office failure of the SNL spin-off film Stuart Saves His Family.

Following the 13 May 1995 season finale, nine more cast members either quit or were fired from Saturday Night Live, including Morwenna Banks, Ellen Cleghorne, Chris Elliott, Chris Farley, Laura Kightlinger, Michael McKean, Jay Mohr, Kevin Nealon and Adam Sandler. In his book, Gasping for Airtime, Jay Mohr wrote that following the season, he demanded a promotion to repertory status, among other things; the network procrastinated his wishes throughout the summer of 1995, and he chose to quit the show. Mohr's account of his voluntary departure from SNL has been widely discounted, however. He was under a cloud of suspicion due to his admitted plagiarizing of jokes during the season, and his multi-year contract with NBC did not allow him to unilaterally quit.[4]

Cast list[edit]

bold denotes Weekend Update anchor


Notable writers during the 20th season of Saturday Night Live included Jim Downey, Al Franken, Tim Herlihy and Robert Smigel.


Saturday Night Live season 20 episodes
No. # Host(s) Musical guest(s) Original airdate
367 1 Steve Martin Eric Clapton September 24, 1994

Norm Macdonald's first episode anchoring Weekend Update.

Chris Elliott, Janeane Garofalo and Laura Kightlinger's first episode as cast members.

Eric Clapton performs "I'm Tore Down" and "Five Long Years."

Brian Austin Green appeared in the "O.J. Simpson Trial" sketch.

Bobby Bonilla, Jack McDowell, Lenny Dykstra, Mo Vaughn, and Roger Clemens appeared in the "Super Sports Tours" sketch.
368 2 Marisa Tomei Bonnie Raitt October 1, 1994
Bonnie Raitt performs "Love Sneaking Up On You" and "Storm Warning."
369 3 John Travolta Seal October 15, 1994

Seal performs "Prayer for the Dying" and "Crazy", and appeared in the "We Go Together" sketch.

David Lander and Steve Buscemi appeared in the "Welcome Back, Kotter" sketch and the "We Go Together" sketch.
370 4 Dana Carvey Edie Brickell
Paul Simon
October 22, 1994

Edie Brickell performs "Green" and "Tomorrow Comes."

George H. W. Bush made an appearance in the cold opening and monologue, critiquing Dana Carvey's impersonation of him.

Paul Simon joined Edie Brickell for her first performance.
371 5 Sarah Jessica Parker R.E.M. November 12, 1994

R.E.M. perform "What's The Frequency, Kenneth?", "Bang and Blame", and "I Don't Sleep, I Dream."

Bill Murray appears near the end of the episode to announce the death of former SNL writer, Michael O'Donoghue, and to replay one of his famous sketches, "The Soiled Kimono", which aired in SNL's third season.

Juliette Lewis was originally scheduled to host this episode, but canceled at the last minute.
372 6 John Turturro Tom Petty November 19, 1994

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers perform "You Don't Know How It Feels" and "Honey Bee." Dave Grohl played with the Heartbreakers, who were in between drummers at the time.

Joey Buttafuoco appeared during the monologue.

David Hasselhoff appeared during Weekend Update.
373 7 Roseanne Green Day December 3, 1994

Adam Sandler debuts "The Chanukah Song" on Weekend Update.

Green Day perform "When I Come Around" and "Geek Stink Breath."

Rip Taylor appeared in the "Lock-Up" sketch.
374 8 Alec Baldwin Beastie Boys December 10, 1994

Beastie Boys perform "Sure Shot" and a medley of "Ricky's Theme" and "Heart Attack Man."

Christian Slater appeared during the "Celebrity Memorabilia Auction" sketch.
375 9 George Foreman Hole December 17, 1994

Hole perform "Doll Parts" and "Violet."

Michael Buffer appeared in the "Time Boxer" sketch.
376 10 Jeff Daniels Luscious Jackson January 14, 1995

Luscious Jackson perform "Citysong" and "Here."

Mark McKinney's first episode as a cast member.
377 11 David Hyde Pierce Live January 21, 1995

Live perform "I Alone" and "Selling the Drama."

Mike Myers' final episode as a cast member.
378 12 Bob Newhart Des'ree February 11, 1995

Des'ree performs "You Gotta Be" and "Feels So High."

At the end of the episode, Bob Newhart wakes up next to Suzanne Pleshette (as he did on the last episode of "Newhart") and tells her about his nightmare hosting SNL.
379 13 Deion Sanders Bon Jovi February 18, 1995

Bon Jovi perform "Always" and "Someday I'll Be Saturday Night." Jon Bon Jovi also appeared in the "1995 ESPY Awards" sketch.

Manute Bol appeared in the "1995 ESPY Awards" sketch.
380 14 George Clooney The Cranberries February 25, 1995

The Cranberries perform "Zombie" and "Ode to My Family."

Janeane Garofalo's final episode as a cast member.

Molly Shannon's first episode as a cast member.
381 15 Paul Reiser Annie Lennox March 18, 1995

Annie Lennox performs "No More I Love You's" and "Train In Vain."

In reruns, the "O'Callahan and Sons" sketch is replaced with the short film, Vacation, after Jay Mohr admitted that the "O'Callahan and Sons" sketch was plagiarized from comedian, Rick Shapiro.
382 16 John Goodman The Tragically Hip March 25, 1995

The Tragically Hip perform "Grace, Too" and "Nautical Disaster."

Dan Aykroyd appears in the cold-open, the opening monologue, the "Bob Swerski's Super Fans" sketch, the "Late Late Show" sketch, the "Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern" sketch, the "Unsolved Mysteries" sketch, the "Coal Miners" sketch, and introduced The Tragically Hip.

Brian Dennehy and George Wendt appear in the "Bob Swerski's Super Fans" sketch.
383 17 Damon Wayans Dionne Farris April 8, 1995

Dionne Farris performs "I Know" and "Blackbird."

David Alan Grier appears during the "Men on Film" sketch.

Morwenna Banks's first episode as a cast member.

Damon Wayans reprises his roles as Anton Jackson and Blaine Edwards from In Living Color.
384 18 Courteney Cox Dave Matthews Band April 15, 1995
Dave Matthews Band perform "What Would You Say" and "Ants Marching." Bela Fleck sat in with the SNL band.
385 19 Bob Saget TLC May 6, 1995

TLC perform "Creep" and "Red Light Special."

Al Franken's final episode as a cast member.
386 20 David Duchovny Rod Stewart May 13, 1995

Rod Stewart performs "Leave Virginia Alone" and "Maggie May."

Michael Angarano appears during the opening monologue.

Naomi Campbell appears during the "You Think You're Better Than Me?" sketch.

Kevin Nealon, Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Ellen Cleghorne, Morwenna Banks, Jay Mohr, Laura Kightlinger, Michael McKean and Chris Elliott's final episode as cast members.

Final show of G.E. Smith with the Saturday Night Live Band and as co-musical director.

Stuart Saves His Family film[edit]

Stuart Saves His Family, a film based on the popular Stuart Smalley sketches, was released on April 12, 1995.[5] Cast members Robin Duke, Al Franken and Julia Sweeney appear in the film. The film received modest reviews from critics but was a box office bomb. During the season, Franken performed a Stuart Smalley sketch that parodied the film's poor box office returns. Stuart was depressed and bitter throughout the entire segment, eating cookies and lambasting the audience for choosing other movies (such as Dumb and Dumber and anything Pauly Shore had out at the time) over his.