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 originUnited States
No. of episodes20
Original networkNBC
Original releaseSeptember 30, 1995 (1995-09-30) – May 18, 1996 (1996-05-18)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 20
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Season 22
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 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's 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]


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 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.

Chris Kattan and newly hired writer Colin Quinn also joined as featured players for the final six episodes of the season. Fred Wolf was hired later in April as a featured player.

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.

A new logo was used starting this year, the logo now read SATURDAYNIGHTLIVE in a new typeface, and was used until 2006; it replaced the circle logo in use since 1988.

Cast roster[edit]

Repertory cast members[edit]

Featured cast members[edit]

bold denotes "Weekend Update" anchor


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


No. in
HostMusical guestOriginal air date
3871Mariel HemingwayBlues TravelerSeptember 30, 1995 (1995-09-30)

  • Jim Breuer, Will Ferrell, Darrell Hammond, David Koechner, Cheri Oteri, and Nancy Walls's first episode as cast members.
  • Blues Traveler performs "Run-Around" and "Hook".
3882Chevy ChaseLisa Loeb & Nine StoriesOctober 7, 1995 (1995-10-07)

3893David SchwimmerNatalie MerchantOctober 21, 1995 (1995-10-21)

3904Gabriel ByrneAlanis MorissetteOctober 28, 1995 (1995-10-28)

3915Quentin TarantinoThe Smashing PumpkinsNovember 11, 1995 (1995-11-11)

3926Laura LeightonRancidNovember 18, 1995 (1995-11-18)

3937Anthony EdwardsFoo FightersDecember 2, 1995 (1995-12-02)

3948David Alan GrierSilverchairDecember 9, 1995 (1995-12-09)

3959Madeline KahnBushDecember 16, 1995 (1995-12-16)

  • Bush performs "Comedown" and "Glycerine".
  • Sam Waterston appears in the pre-recorded "Old Glory Insurance" sketch.
39610Christopher WalkenJoan OsborneJanuary 13, 1996 (1996-01-13)

39711Alec BaldwinTori AmosJanuary 20, 1996 (1996-01-20)

39812Danny AielloCoolioFebruary 10, 1996 (1996-02-10)

39913Tom ArnoldTupac ShakurFebruary 17, 1996 (1996-02-17)

40014Elle MacphersonStingFebruary 24, 1996 (1996-02-24)

  • Sting performs "Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot" and "You Still Touch Me".
  • Darrell Hammond fills in for Don Pardo as announcer, since he was sick. Hammond would later take over permanently as announcer following Pardo's death in 2014.
40115John GoodmanEverclearMarch 16, 1996 (1996-03-16)

  • Elle Macpherson made a cameo appearance during the monologue.
  • Kurt Loder appears during the "MTV News" sketch.
  • Everclear performs "Santa Monica".
  • Chris Kattan and Colin Quinn's first episode as cast members.
40216Phil HartmanGin BlossomsMarch 23, 1996 (1996-03-23)

  • Hartman brings back his impersonation of Frank Sinatra.
  • 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".
40317Steve ForbesRage Against the MachineApril 13, 1996 (1996-04-13)

  • Fred Wolf's first episode as a credited cast member.
  • 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.
  • Forbes's family appears onstage during the goodnights.
40418Teri HatcherDave Matthews BandApril 20, 1996 (1996-04-20)

  • Sam Waterston appears in the pre-recorded "Old Glory Insurance" sketch.
  • Sketch Spade in America is performed by Teri Hatcher (as David Spade) and Spade (as Hatcher).
  • Dave Matthews Band performs "Too Much" and "So Much to Say".
40519Christine BaranskiThe CureMay 11, 1996 (1996-05-11)

40620Jim CarreySoundgardenMay 18, 1996 (1996-05-18)


  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.