Saturday Night Live (season 3)

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Saturday Night Live (season 3)
The title card for the third season of Saturday Night Live.
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 20
Original network NBC
Original release September 24, 1977 (1977-09-24) – May 20, 1978 (1978-05-20)
Season chronology
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List of Saturday Night Live episodes

The third season of Saturday Night Live, an American sketch comedy series, originally aired in the United States on NBC between September 24, 1977, and May 20, 1978.

The season is also notable for the contest, Anyone Can Host. During the start of the season the show advertised the contest for a non-celebrity to host the show.[citation needed] The winner was 80-year-old grandmother Miskel Spillman, the only non-celebrity to host an SNL episode. During Spillman's show the musical guest, Elvis Costello, halted his band, the Attractions, seven seconds into the song "Less Than Zero", launching into "Radio Radio", an as-yet unreleased song critical of mainstream broadcasting. (The Sex Pistols were originally booked to appear on the show, but were denied visas to enter America.) The change angered Lorne Michaels, who banned future appearances on the show for a while. Costello would not be invited back to the show until 1989.[1]

Chevy Chase hosted during the season, making him the first cast member to host after leaving the show. Right before the end-of-the-show onstage goodbyes, a loud altercation broke out backstage between Chase and relatively new cast member Bill Murray. After several insults were exchanged (including Chase referencing Murray's acne scarred skin and Murray calling Chase a "medium talent"), the two actors began to physically attack each other. And although by most accounts the fight had been at least partially instigated by John Belushi, he was the one (along with Dan Aykroyd) that broke up the Murray and Chase only moments before the entire cast regrouped on stage in front of the live television cameras. Chase would host the show several times throughout the show's history, though he was unpopular with the cast and crew.[2]

The DVD for the entire season was released on May 13, 2008.[citation needed]


Repertory players
Featured cast members

bold denotes Weekend Update anchor


Tom Davis and Al Franken got prominent amounts of screen time.[citation needed] Brian Doyle-Murray and Don Novello joined the writing staff. Michael O'Donoghue temporarily left the show.[citation needed]

This season's writers were Dan Aykroyd, Anne Beatts, Tom Davis, Jim Downey, Brian Doyle-Murray, Al Franken, Neil Levy, Lorne Michaels, Marilyn Suzanne Miller, Don Novello, Michael O'Donoghue, Herb Sargent, Tom Schiller, Rosie Schuster and Alan Zweibel. The head writer, like the previous season, was Michael O'Donoghue.


Saturday Night Live season 3 episodes
No. # Host(s) Musical guest(s) Original airdate
47 1 Steve Martin Jackson Browne September 24, 1977

First appearance of the Festrunk Brothers.

Jackson Browne performs "Running on Empty" and "The Pretender."

Dan Aykroyd makes his debut appearance as co-anchor of Weekend Update alongside Jane Curtin.

John Belushi performs as Roy Orbison.
48 2 Madeline Kahn Taj Mahal October 8, 1977

Australian comedian Barry Humphries appears as Dame Edna Everage.

Taj Mahal performs "Queen Bee."
49 3 Hugh Hefner Libby Titus October 15, 1977
Libby Titus performs "Fool That I Am."
50 4 Charles Grodin Paul Simon October 29, 1977

Simon performs "Slip Slidin' Away" and "You're Kind" (a song from Still Crazy After All These Years), accompanied on both songs by harmonica player Toots Thielemans and a backing band.

One sketch features Paul Simon and Charles Grodin attempting to sing "The Sound of Silence", with Grodin wearing an Art Garfunkel wig. After several aborted starts (with Grodin singing off-key and forgetting the lyrics), Simon walks off the stage. Grodin then proceeds to sing a verse of "Bridge Over Troubled Water", after which the real Art Garfunkel walks on stage and asked Grodin to take off the wig.

Roseanne Roseannadanna makes her debut in this episode's "Hire the Incompetent" sketch.
51 5 Ray Charles Ray Charles November 12, 1977

Comedian Franklyn Ajaye and Buck Henry make guest appearances.

Ray Charles leads the band, cast, and crew in a jam during the closing credits.
52 6 Buck Henry Leon Redbone November 19, 1977

Henry uses his monologue to introduce the five finalists in the "Anyone Can Host" contest. The five finalists are then featured sporadically throughout the episode, including an appearance in a film by Gary Weis.

In a sketch, John Belushi plays himself as a retired athlete, endorsing "Little Chocolate Donuts," a parody of Bruce Jenner's Wheaties ad. The voice over for the commercial while Belushi is running is done by sportscaster Marv Albert.

A film by Tom Schiller is featured.
53 7 Mary Kay Place Willie Nelson December 10, 1977

Willie Nelson and Mary Kay Place sing their duet, "Something to Brag About."

Andy Kaufman makes a guest appearance.
54 8 Miskel Spillman Elvis Costello December 17, 1977

Miskel Spillman was the winner of SNL's "Anyone Can Host" contest.

Elvis Costello performs "Watching the Detectives" and was scheduled to perform "Less Than Zero" but halted his band the Attractions seven seconds into the song, launching into "Radio Radio", an as-yet unreleased song critical of mainstream broadcasting.

Al Franken's parents, Joseph and Phoebe Franken, appear in the "Franken & Davis Show" sketch.

Sex Pistols were originally scheduled to perform.
55 9 Steve Martin Randy Newman January 21, 1978

Steve Martin references that a snowstorm the day before caused limited rehearsals.

Members of The Dirt Band perform backing vocals during Randy Newman's performance of "Short People."
56 10 Robert Klein Bonnie Raitt January 28, 1978

The cold open features Paul Shaffer as Don Kirshner and Mr. Mike. Shaffer also appears as Nick the Lounge Singer's pianist. Bill Murray's "Nick Winters" lounge singer performs "Star Wars, nothing but Star Wars..."

First appearance of the Olympia cafe and The Nerds sketches.

Because of the recent crash of the highly radioactive Soviet spy satellite Cosmos 954 in northern Canada, this episode makes continuing reference to giant mutant lobsters reportedly heading for NYC, climaxing with them invading the studio during the show's ending credits.

Klein joins Bonnie Raitt on harmonica on the song, "Give It Up or Let Me Go."
57 11 Chevy Chase Billy Joel February 18, 1978

Chevy Chase becomes the first former cast member to come back and host with this episode.

Chevy Chase appears on Weekend Update, as "senior anchorperson."
58 12 O. J. Simpson Ashford and Simpson February 25, 1978
Every cast member, as well as Don Novello and O.J. Simpson, are featured in Samurai Night Fever, a parody of Saturday Night Fever. John Belushi dances to The Bee Gees' Stayin' Alive.
59 13 Art Garfunkel Stephen Bishop March 11, 1978

This episode features the short film, Don't Look Back in Anger, in which an aged John Belushi visits the graves of the "Not Ready for Primetime Players" cast and claims that he's the last living member.

Andy Kaufman makes a guest appearance.
60 14 Jill Clayburgh Eddie Money March 18, 1978
61 15 Christopher Lee Meat Loaf March 25, 1978

On Weekend Update, the Writers Guild strikes against Sesame Street ("picket" "scab" "don't, it might get infected") and the"Point/Counterpoint" segment is introduced.

A Gary Weis short film, titled “Cold as Ice”, features an uncredited Stacy Keach being repeatedly stabbed with scissors and a gun and eventually shot with a shotgun, all in slow-motion, by a unnamed blonde to the tune of the Foreigner song of the same name.

Richard Belzer makes a stand-up appearance, including Muzak versions of Rolling Stones hits; he does an impersonation of Mick Jagger, with the SNL band as backup.

Meat Loaf performs "All Revved Up with No Place to Go" and "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad".
62 16 Michael Palin Eugene Record April 8, 1978
In the opening monologue, Michael Palin plays Palin's manager, who ends up stuffing live cats down his trousers; one of the cats defecates freely all over his arm. Palin, with only a one-minute costume change afterward, performs the RC Priest and Very Famous Man (Trunk Escape) sketches with feces still on his clothes.[3]
63 17 Michael Sarrazin Keith Jarrett April 15, 1978
This episode features a short black and black film, La Dolce Gilda.
64 18 Steve Martin The Blues Brothers April 22, 1978

The cold opening features Paul Shaffer as Don Kirshner, introducing The Blues Brothers singing "Hey Bartender." Sketches include the Czech brothers, "Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber," a Martin and Radner dance sketch, a performance of "King Tut," a Gary Weis film with ballet dancers and breakdancers, and "Nerds at the Science Fair."

The Blues Brothers perform "I Don't Know."

This episode was nominated for an Emmy and was later selected as TV Guide's #12 Top Episode of all time.[4]
65 19 Richard Dreyfuss Jimmy Buffett
Richard Dreyfuss
Gary Tigerman
May 13, 1978

Father Guido Sarducci (Don Novello) makes a guest appearance.

Paul Shaffer appears as lounge singer Nick Winter's piano player and as Dreyfuss' piano player, as Dreyfuss sings "Seduced" by Gary Tigerman.

John Belushi joins Dreyfuss on stage and as part of his monologue, attempts to help Dreyfuss with the lines of his Shakespeare soliloquy (suggesting that he use his cue cards since he's not used to being on television) and then angrily mocks and argues with him, saying he didn't deserve the Oscar he received that year over actor Richard Burton.

Twice in the episode, Dreyfuss hears the Jaws theme.

During the closing credits, Richard is attacked by the Land Shark.
66 20 Buck Henry Sun Ra May 20, 1978

DVD release[edit]

Season 3 was released on DVD May 13, 2008 [5]


  1. ^ Larry David Smith (30 Apr 2004). Elvis Costello, Joni Mitchell, and the Torch Song Tradition. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 139. 
  2. ^ Tom Shales & James Andrew Miller (19 January 2014). Live from New York An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live. Little, Brown, and Company. 
  3. ^ Palin, Michael (2007). Diaries 1969-1979: The Python Years. St. Martin's Press. pp. 460–1. ISBN 0-312-36935-2. 
  4. ^ "TV's Top 100 Episodes of All Time: #20-11". TV Guide Magazine. June 18, 2009. Archived from the original on March 14, 2010. 
  5. ^ Saturday Night Live: Season 3, 1977-1978 (DVD). Universal Studios. May 13, 2008.