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
← 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.

Cast roster[edit]

bold denotes "Weekend Update" anchor


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


No. in
Host Musical guest Original air date
387 1 Mariel Hemingway Blues Traveler September 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".
388 2 Chevy Chase Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories October 7, 1995 (1995-10-07)
389 3 David Schwimmer Natalie Merchant October 21, 1995 (1995-10-21)
390 4 Gabriel Byrne Alanis Morissette October 28, 1995 (1995-10-28)
391 5 Quentin Tarantino The Smashing Pumpkins November 11, 1995 (1995-11-11)
392 6 Laura Leighton Rancid November 18, 1995 (1995-11-18)
393 7 Anthony Edwards Foo Fighters December 2, 1995 (1995-12-02)
394 8 David Alan Grier Silverchair December 9, 1995 (1995-12-09)
395 9 Madeline Kahn Bush December 16, 1995 (1995-12-16)
  • Bush performs "Comedown" and "Glycerine".
  • Sam Waterston appears in the pre-recorded "Old Glory Insurance" sketch.
396 10 Christopher Walken Joan Osborne January 13, 1996 (1996-01-13)
397 11 Alec Baldwin Tori Amos January 20, 1996 (1996-01-20)
398 12 Danny Aiello Coolio February 10, 1996 (1996-02-10)
399 13 Tom Arnold Tupac Shakur February 17, 1996 (1996-02-17)
400 14 Elle Macpherson Sting February 24, 1996 (1996-02-24)
401 15 John Goodman Everclear March 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.
402 16 Phil Hartman Gin Blossoms March 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".
403 17 Steve Forbes Rage Against the Machine April 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.
404 18 Teri Hatcher Dave Matthews Band April 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".
405 19 Christine Baranski The Cure May 11, 1996 (1996-05-11)
406 20 Jim Carrey Soundgarden May 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.