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 originUnited States
No. of episodes20
Original networkNBC
Original releaseSeptember 24, 1994 (1994-09-24) –
May 13, 1995 (1995-05-13)
Season chronology
← Previous
season 19
Next →
season 21
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 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: season 11 cast member Danitra Vance (who died of breast cancer) and "Not Ready for Primetime"-era writer and occasional performer Michael O'Donoghue (who died of a brain hemorrhage after years of suffering from migraine headaches). The Sarah Jessica Parker-hosted episode featured a special appearance by Bill Murray, who introduced a clip from season 3, "The Soiled Kimono", aired in O'Donoghue's memory.

This was the last season for Mike Myers, Kevin Nealon, Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Jay Mohr, Michael McKean, Ellen Cleghorne, and Al Franken and the only season for Janeane Garofalo, Chris Elliott, Morwenna Banks, and Laura Kightlinger, as they all left the show at the end of the season. Myers, Garofalo, and Franken all left the show mid-season, and Nealon, Cleghorne, McKean, Elliott, and Kightlinger all left the show at season's end on their own terms. Farley, Sandler, Mohr, and Banks were let go from the show at the end of the season as none of them indicated any particular interest in staying for another season.


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.

Jay Mohr remained 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).

As the season progressed, Morwenna Banks, Mark McKinney and Molly Shannon were added to the cast (McKinney was hired from the then-recently ended sketch show The Kids in the Hall, which was produced by Michaels).

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

Following the May 13, 1995 season finale, nine more cast members either quit or were fired from Saturday Night Live, including Banks, Cleghorne, Elliott, Farley, Kightlinger, McKean, Mohr, Nealon and Sandler. In his book, Gasping for Airtime, 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]

This was also the final season for director Dave Wilson and bandleader G.E. Smith, who had been with the program since its first and eleventh seasons, respectively.

Cast roster[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.


No. in
HostMusical guest(s)Original air date
3671Steve MartinEric ClaptonSeptember 24, 1994 (1994-09-24)

3682Marisa TomeiBonnie RaittOctober 1, 1994 (1994-10-01)

3693John TravoltaSealOctober 15, 1994 (1994-10-15)

3704Dana CarveyEdie Brickell & Paul SimonOctober 22, 1994 (1994-10-22)

  • Edie Brickell performed "Green" and "Tomorrow Comes". Paul Simon joined Brickell for her first performance.
  • George H. W. Bush made an appearance in the cold opening and monologue, critiquing Dana Carvey's impersonation of him.
  • Contains an "Office Space" cartoon by Mike Judge
3715Sarah Jessica ParkerR.E.M.November 12, 1994 (1994-11-12)

3726John TurturroTom PettyNovember 19, 1994 (1994-11-19)

3737RoseanneGreen DayDecember 3, 1994 (1994-12-03)

3748Alec BaldwinBeastie BoysDecember 10, 1994 (1994-12-10)

  • Beastie Boys performs "Sure Shot" and a medley of "Ricky's Theme" and "Heart Attack Man".
  • Christian Slater appeared during the "Celebrity Memorabilia Auction" sketch.
3759George ForemanHoleDecember 17, 1994 (1994-12-17)

37610Jeff DanielsLuscious JacksonJanuary 14, 1995 (1995-01-14)

37711David Hyde PierceLiveJanuary 21, 1995 (1995-01-21)

37812Bob NewhartDes'reeFebruary 11, 1995 (1995-02-11)

  • 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.
37913Deion SandersBon JoviFebruary 18, 1995 (1995-02-18)

38014George ClooneyThe CranberriesFebruary 25, 1995 (1995-02-25)

  • The Cranberries performs "Zombie" and "Ode to My Family".
  • Dozens of kids and adults appear in the "Splash Zone" sketch and the goodnights.
  • Molly Shannon's first episode as a cast member.
  • Janeane Garofalo's final episode as a cast member.
38115Paul ReiserAnnie LennoxMarch 18, 1995 (1995-03-18)

38216John GoodmanThe Tragically HipMarch 25, 1995 (1995-03-25)

38317Damon WayansDionne FarrisApril 8, 1995 (1995-04-08)

38418Courteney CoxDave Matthews BandApril 15, 1995 (1995-04-15)

38519Bob SagetTLCMay 6, 1995 (1995-05-06)

  • TLC performs "Creep" and "Red Light Special".
  • Al Franken's final episode as a cast member.
  • During Weekend Update, they showed a clip of Howard Cosell in an Ed Grimley sketch from when he hosted in 1985, as a commemoration to Cosell's death that occurred three weeks before the episode aired.
38620David DuchovnyRod StewartMay 13, 1995 (1995-05-13)

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.


  1. ^ Smith, Chris (March 13, 1995). "Comedy Isn't Funny: Saturday Night Live at twenty – how the show that transformed TV became a grim joke". New York Magazine.
  2. ^ Mike Myers (I) - Filmography on IMDb
  3. ^ Janeane Garofalo - Filmography on IMDb
  4. ^ Saturday Night Live Backstage (2011) on IMDb
  5. ^ "Stuart Saves His Family (1995)". Rotten Tomatoes.