Saturday Night Live (season 23)

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Saturday Night Live (season 23)
The title card for the twenty-third season of Saturday Night Live.
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes20
Original networkNBC
Original releaseSeptember 27, 1997 (1997-09-27) –
May 9, 1998 (1998-05-09)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 22
Next →
Season 24
List of Saturday Night Live episodes

The twenty-third season of Saturday Night Live, an American sketch comedy series, originally aired in the United States on NBC between September 27, 1997, and May 9, 1998.

During the season, a controversy arose in which Weekend Update anchor Norm Macdonald was removed from the Update segment after angering NBC executive Don Ohlmeyer with his O. J. Simpson jokes. The weekly inclusion of O.J. jokes upset Ohlmeyer, who was good friends with Simpson. Ohlmeyer arranged to have Macdonald fired from the segment, but not from the show. Macdonald's final episode as Update anchor was on December 13, 1997. Quinn was then promoted to the job and anchored the segment in the next live episode, which aired January 10, 1998. Even though Macdonald still performed in sketches, he was not happy and eventually quit the show; his final appearance was on March 14, 1998. After MacDonald's departure this was also the final season for Jim Breuer as he left the show at season's end to move on to other acting opportunities.

This season saw the deaths of two former cast members. Six weeks after he came back to host, Chris Farley became the fifth SNL cast member to die prematurely. Similar to his idol, John Belushi, Farley died of a speedball overdose at the age of 33. Two weeks after the season finale, long-time performer Phil Hartman was murdered by his wife. Following their deaths, NBC aired two SNL specials as tributes to Farley and Hartman as they were both remembered during this season.


Before the season, Colin Quinn was promoted to repertory status and Mark McKinney left the show. This season is the first season to not include any featured players or new cast members. It was also the only season to have an opening sequence that did not show any shots of New York City, instead featuring a 1950s-inspired design.

Cast roster[edit]

Repertory cast members[edit]

bold denotes Weekend Update anchor


Tina Fey joins the writing staff in this season. Jim Downey leaves the show after Norm Macdonald was taken off Weekend Update (since Downey co-wrote Update with Macdonald).


No. in
HostMusical guest(s)Original air date
4271Sylvester StalloneJamiroquaiSeptember 27, 1997 (1997-09-27)

  • The initial 1996 Olympics bombing suspect Richard Jewell makes a guest appearance, where, in a highly publicized sketch, he punches Janet Reno (played by Will Ferrell) in the gut, with Reno responding, "Same time next week?". Jewell also appeared alongside Norm Macdonald on Weekend Update.
  • Jamiroquai performed "Alright".
4282Matthew PerryOasisOctober 4, 1997 (1997-10-04)

4293Brendan FraserBjörkOctober 18, 1997 (1997-10-18)

4304Chris FarleyThe Mighty Mighty BosstonesOctober 25, 1997 (1997-10-25)

4315Jon LovitzJane's AddictionNovember 8, 1997 (1997-11-08)

4326Claire DanesMariah CareyNovember 15, 1997 (1997-11-15)

4337Rudolph GiulianiSarah McLachlanNovember 22, 1997 (1997-11-22)

4348Nathan LaneMetallica & Marianne FaithfullDecember 6, 1997 (1997-12-06)

4359Helen HuntHansonDecember 13, 1997 (1997-12-13)

43610Samuel L. JacksonBen Folds FiveJanuary 10, 1998 (1998-01-10)

43711Sarah Michelle GellarPortisheadJanuary 17, 1998 (1998-01-17)

43812John GoodmanPaula ColeFebruary 7, 1998 (1998-02-07)

  • Dan Aykroyd cameos in this episode, reprising two of his popular recurring characters, Elwood Blues from The Blues Brothers during the monologue and Irwin Mainway from "Consumer Probe" in the Judge Judy sketch. He also impersonates Bob Dole in the cold opening.
  • Aykroyd and Goodman performed "Lookin' For a Fox" with the Blues Brothers Band.
  • Paula Cole performed "I Don't Want to Wait".
43913Roma DowneyMissy Misdemeanor ElliottFebruary 14, 1998 (1998-02-14)

44014Garth BrooksGarth BrooksFebruary 28, 1998 (1998-02-28)

44115Scott WolfNatalie ImbrugliaMarch 7, 1998 (1998-03-07)

44216Julianne MooreBackstreet BoysMarch 14, 1998 (1998-03-14)

44317Steve BuscemiThird Eye BlindApril 4, 1998 (1998-04-04)

44418Greg KinnearAll SaintsApril 11, 1998 (1998-04-11)

44519Matthew BroderickNatalie MerchantMay 2, 1998 (1998-05-02)

44620David DuchovnyPuff Daddy
Jimmy Page
May 9, 1998 (1998-05-09)


# Special Original airdate
1"SNL Halloween '97"November 1, 1997 (1997-11-01)
A clip show hosted by Mike Myers and Dana Carvey featuring material from previous shows.
2"SNL Sports Extra '98"January 24, 1998 (1998-01-24)
A clip show featuring material from previous shows.
3"Best of the New Season '97-'98"January 31, 1998 (1998-01-31)
A clip show featuring some of the best material from the first half of the '97-'98 season. Sketches include "Well Babies Tragedy," "Cookie Dough Sport," "The View," "The Ladies' Man," and "The Ambiguously Gay Duo".
4"SNL Remembers Chris Farley"February 21, 1998 (1998-02-21)
The special featured some of the best material featuring Chris Farley during his stint on the show. Sketches include "Chippendales Auditions," "Superfans," "The Chris Farley Show," "Bobby Watches Grandma," "Schmitts Gay," "Focus On Beauty II," "Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker," "Giuliani's Inauguration," "Tater Junction," "Lunchlady Land", "Lillehammer", "Clinton Auditions," "Good Morning Brooklyn," "Japanese Game Show," "Juggernaut Force," "Zagat's," and "Hidden Camera Commercials".
5"SNL Remembers Phil Hartman"June 13, 1998 (1998-06-13)
The special featured some of the best material featuring Phil Hartman during his stint on the show. *Sketches include "Donahue," "The Crosby Show," "Star Trek Convention," "Discover," "On Broadway," "Church Chat," "Cumpulsion," "Anne Boleyn," "Succinctly Speaking," "All-Drug Olympics," "Nicknames," "Win, Lose, or Tie," "Love is a Dream (film)," "Nancy Reagan Visits," "Robot Repair," "Cooking with the Anal Retentive Chef," "A Betty Ford Straight Arrow Christmas," "Celebrity Lawyer Court," "Greenhilly," "The Sinatra Group," "Clarence Thomas Hearings," "Campaign '92," "Sprockets," "Dick Clark's Snotty Receptionist," "Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer," "Johnny Carson's Last Episode," "Perot and Stockdale Car Trip," "Clinton at McDonald's," "Sassy's Sassiest Boys," and "Acting Class".
6"The Best of Eddie Murphy"August 22, 1998 (1998-08-22)
The special featured some of the best material featuring Eddie Murphy during his tenure on the show. Sketches include "The Little Richard Simmons Show," "Prose and Cons" (film), "Velvet Jones School Of Technology," "Career Corner," "Ebony & Ivory," "Buckwheat Dead," "Stevie Wonder Impersonator," "Rock & Roll... and then some," "Black History Minute," "Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood," "Gumby," "Buckwheat Sings," and "James Brown's Hot Tub Party".