Saturday Night Live (season 21)

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Saturday Night Live (season 21)
The title card for the twenty-first season of Saturday Night Live.
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 20
Original network NBC
Original release September 30, 1995 (1995-09-30) – May 18, 1996 (1996-05-18)
Season chronology
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List of Saturday Night Live episodes

The twenty-first season of Saturday Night Live, an American sketch comedy series, originally aired in the United States on NBC between September 30, 1995, and May 18, 1996.


SNL once again dodged cancellation from season twenty's low ratings and scathing reviews about the show's decline in quality. The cast was mostly overhauled.

The season was also home to the Rage Against the Machine incident. On April 13, 1996, the band was the musical guest, and was scheduled to perform two songs. The show was hosted that night by ex-Republican presidential candidate and billionaire Steve Forbes. According to RATM guitarist Tom Morello, "RATM wanted to stand in sharp juxtaposition to a billionaire telling jokes and promoting his flat tax by making our own statement."[1] To this end, the band hung two upside-down American flags from their amplifiers. Seconds before they took the stage to perform "Bulls on Parade", SNL and NBC sent stagehands in to pull the flags down.[2] Following the removal of the flags during the first performance, the band was approached by SNL and NBC officials and ordered to immediately leave the building. Upon hearing this, bassist Tim Commerford reportedly stormed Forbes' dressing room, throwing shreds from one of the torn down flags. Morello noted that members of the Saturday Night Live cast and crew, whom he declined to name, "expressed solidarity with our actions, and a sense of shame that their show had censored the performance."[1]


Changes and notes[edit]

Only five cast members: Norm Macdonald, Mark McKinney, Tim Meadows, Molly Shannon and David Spade returned to the show from the previous season.[3]

Although David Spade returned to the show, he had more of a diminished role, very rarely appearing in sketches except for Spade in America, a "Weekend Update" segment hosted by Spade that debuted at the start of the season and was featured in all but five episodes.

With the cast overhaul taking place, Lorne Michaels hired Jim Breuer, Will Ferrell, Darrell Hammond, David Koechner, Cheri Oteri, and Nancy Walls.

Molly Shannon was upgraded to repertory status.

Several episodes into the season, head writer Fred Wolf and newly hired writer Colin Quinn were added to the cast as featured players. Chris Kattan also joined as a featured player for the final six episodes of the season.

This would be the final season for David Spade. Spade had agreed to stay only for a year so that he could be a bridge between the old and new casts. Newcomers David Koechner and Nancy Walls were also let go after this season.

Cast roster[edit]

bold denotes "Weekend Update" anchor


Steve Higgins, Adam McKay and Paula Pell join the writing staff.


Saturday Night Live season 21 episodes
No. # Host(s) Musical guest(s) Original airdate
387 1 Mariel Hemingway Blues Traveler September 30, 1995

Jim Breuer, Darrell Hammond, Will Ferrell, David Koechner, Cheri Oteri, and Nancy Walls' first episode as cast members.

Blues Traveler perform "Run-Around" and "Hook."

Prince was originally scheduled to be the musical guest for this episode.
388 2 Chevy Chase Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories October 7, 1995

Guest appearance by Don Novello, playing Father Guido Sarducci in Weekend Update.

Lisa Loeb performs "Do You Sleep?" and "Stay (I Missed You)."
389 3 David Schwimmer Natalie Merchant October 21, 1995

Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston, Jimmie Walker, Gary Coleman, and Barry Williams appear in the opening monologue.

Natalie Merchant performs "Wonder" and "Carnival."
390 4 Gabriel Byrne Alanis Morissette October 28, 1995

Colin Quinn, who was to become a credited cast member two episodes later, appears in the opening monologue as a dancing potato.

Guest appearances by Bill Bradley and Lamar Alexander.

Alanis Morissette performs "Hand in My Pocket" and "All I Really Want."
391 5 Quentin Tarantino The Smashing Pumpkins November 11, 1995

Fred Wolf's first episode as a credited cast member.

The Smashing Pumpkins perform "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" and "Zero".

Guest appearance by Robert Hegyes.
392 6 Laura Leighton Rancid November 18, 1995

Colin Quinn's first episode as a credited cast member.

Guest appearance by Sam Waterston in the prerecorded segment "Old Glory Robot Insurance".

Guest appearance by Sean Penn in a prerecorded segment, where he gives David Spade a tattoo.

Rancid perform "Roots Radicals" and "Ruby Soho."
393 7 Anthony Edwards Foo Fighters December 2, 1995

Foo Fighters perform "I'll Stick Around" and "For All the Cows."

Jim Breuer debuts his recurring sketch "The Joe Pesci Show."
394 8 David Alan Grier Silverchair December 9, 1995
Silverchair performs "Tomorrow" and "Pure Massacre."
395 9 Madeline Kahn Bush December 16, 1995

Bush performs "Comedown" and "Glycerine".

Guest appearance by Sam Waterston in a prerecorded segment.
396 10 Christopher Walken Joan Osborne January 13, 1996

Rudolph Giuliani and George Pataki appear in the cold open.

Joan Osborne performs "One of Us."
397 11 Alec Baldwin Tori Amos January 20, 1996
Tori Amos performs "Caught a Lite Sneeze" and "Hey Jupiter."
398 12 Danny Aiello Coolio February 10, 1996

Chris Farley appears as a special guest during the Spade in America segment, promoting Farley and Spade's new film Black Sheep.

Guest appearance by Larry Brown.

Coolio performs "1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New)" and "Gangsta's Paradise."
399 13 Tom Arnold Tupac Shakur February 17, 1996

Tupac Shakur, accompanied by Danny Boy and Roger Troutman, performs "California Love" and "I Ain't Mad at Cha".

Adam Sandler appears during Weekend Update, singing a song about his grandmother.
400 14 Elle Macpherson Sting February 24, 1996
Sting performs "Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot" and "You Still Touch Me".
401 15 John Goodman Everclear March 16, 1996

Elle Macpherson makes a cameo appearance during the monologue.

Everclear performs "Santa Monica."

Chris Kattan's first episode as a cast member.
402 16 Phil Hartman Gin Blossoms March 23, 1996

This episode marked the first appearance of Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan's "Roxbury Guys" characters.

Gin Blossoms perform "Follow You Down" and "Memphis Time."
403 17 Steve Forbes Rage Against the Machine April 13, 1996
Rage Against The Machine performs one song, "Bulls on Parade." Their second song was cut after the band attempted to hang inverted U.S. flags from its amplifiers, protesting host Steve Forbes, a Republican presidential candidate.
404 18 Teri Hatcher Dave Matthews Band April 20, 1996

Sketch Spade in America was performed by Teri Hatcher (as David Spade) and Spade (as Hatcher).

Dave Matthews Band performs "Too Much" and "So Much to Say."
405 19 Christine Baranski The Cure May 11, 1996

The Cure performs "Mint Car" and "In Between Days."

Dennis Rodman makes a cameo appearance in the cold open as Bob Dole's running mate, and then once again during Weekend Update.
406 20 Jim Carrey Soundgarden May 18, 1996

Soundgarden performs "Pretty Noose" and "Burden in My Hand."

Last episode for stage manager Joe Dicso, who had been in that position since the show's 1975 inception.

David Spade, Nancy Walls and David Koechner's final episode as cast members.


  1. ^ a b Anon., Saturday Night Live Incident, Public release and distribution. Retrieved November 12, 2007.
  2. ^ "Rage Against the Machine". The Flag Burning Page. Retrieved 2008-03-16. 
  3. ^ Shales, Tom (2003). Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live. Back Bay. ISBN 0-316-73565-5.