Saturday Night Live (season 34)

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Saturday Night Live (season 34)
The title card for the thirty-fourth season of Saturday Night Live.
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 22
Original network NBC
Original release September 13, 2008 (2008-09-13) – May 16, 2009 (2009-05-16)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 33
Next →
Season 35
List of Saturday Night Live episodes

The thirty-fourth season of Saturday Night Live, an American sketch comedy series, originally aired in the United States on NBC between September 13, 2008, and May 16, 2009.

This season is notable for its take on the 2008 presidential election, which saw the show's ratings rapidly increase and a number of award nominations.


This season consisted of 22 episodes rather than the usual 20, in an attempt to compensate for episodes lost during the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike. This made it the longest season since the show's second season. The season premiere date of September 13 was earlier than the premiere date for previous seasons, which typically have started during the final weekend of September or in early October.

The show was nominated for many awards including Emmy Awards, a Peabody award and nomination for Comedy/Variety (Including Talk) Series at the Writers Guild of America Awards 2009.[1] After gaining so much media coverage and high seasonal ratings, rival sketch show Mad TV ended in 2009 after its fourteenth season due to low ratings and a dip in quality brought on by budget constraints and mediocre writing.[2]


SNL received much media coverage for the show's take on the 2008 presidential election, causing ratings to increase rapidly. The season premiere opened with Tina Fey playing Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin (alongside a pregnant Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton) in a "non-partisan message on sexism".[3] The phrase "I can see Russia from my house!" was coined by Fey during this sketch.[4] The episode was the show's highest-rated season premiere since the 2001–02 season and is the second most-watched SNL episode ever.[citation needed] A month later, the show drew its highest ratings in over 14 years when the real Sarah Palin appeared. SNL had 17 million viewers during its first half-hour.[citation needed]


Before the start of the season the cast remained mostly unchanged except for the addition of Bobby Moynihan. Moynihan (like Casey Wilson in the previous season) came to SNL as a performer with the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater;[5] in season 33, Moynihan and Wilson were among the group of Upright Citizens Brigade performers SNL auditioned mid-season while the show was looking for a new cast member to join after the writers' strike in early 2008. Moynihan did not make the cut in his season 33 audition, but instead ended up being invited back for another audition shortly before this season started. Wilson remained a featured player.

Midway through the season, cast member Amy Poehler went on maternity leave after giving birth to her son hours before the October 25, 2008 episode, hosted by Jon Hamm. Poehler returned on December 6, 2008 in the John Malkovich hosted episode and made her final appearance as a cast member the following week on the Hugh Laurie hosted episode on December 13, 2008. She announced that it would be her final show at the end of Weekend Update.

Shortly after Poehler went on maternity leave, the show added two new female cast members to fill the void. Michaela Watkins (of The Groundlings in Los Angeles) and Abby Elliott (daughter of former SNL cast member Chris Elliott) joined the show as featured players on November 15, 2008.[6]

This season would also be the last for longtime cast member Darrell Hammond, the last remaining cast member from the 1990s, who had been on the show for a record 14 seasons. Featured players Michaela Watkins and Casey Wilson were both let go after this season.

bold denotes Weekend Update anchor



No. in
Host  Musical guest(s)  Original air date 
637 1 Michael Phelps Lil Wayne September 13, 2008

Tina Fey appears as Sarah Palin and Amy Poehler appears as Hillary Clinton in A Nonpartisan Message from Governor Sarah Palin & Senator Hillary Clinton.

William Shatner, Guy Fieri, Michael Phelps' mother Debbie and Jared Fogle make cameo appearances.

Lil Wayne performs "Got Money" and "Lollipop".

Bobby Moynihan's first episode as a cast member.

At the end of the episode, before the goodnights, a dedication screen was put up for producer/agent Bernie Brillstein, who died a month before this episode aired. Brillstein helped in getting Saturday Night Live picked up as a TV series.

Senator Barack Obama was scheduled to make a second cameo appearance in this episode.[7] However, Obama canceled his appearance due to the results of Hurricane Ike.[8][9]
638 2 James Franco Kings of Leon September 20, 2008

Cameron Diaz makes a guest appearance, reprising her role as Kiki Deamore in the recurring sketch "The Cougar Den".

Gossip Girl's Blake Lively makes a cameo appearance in the SNL Digital Short.[10]

Kings of Leon perform "Sex on Fire" and "Use Somebody".
639 3 Anna Faris Duffy September 27, 2008

Tina Fey returned as Gov. Sarah Palin in the cold open being interviewed by Katie Couric, played by Amy Poehler.

Chris Parnell makes a guest appearance in a debate sketch as Jim Lehrer.

Duffy performs "Mercy" and "Stepping Stone".
640 4 Anne Hathaway The Killers October 4, 2008

Queen Latifah appeared as Gwen Ifill and Tina Fey returned as Sarah Palin in a parody of the Vice Presidential Debate, with Jason Sudeikis as Joe Biden.

The Killers performed "Human" and "Spaceman".

An edited version of the sketch parodying the economic bailout was posted on, removing references to Herbert and Marion Sandler's (played by Darrell Hammond and Casey Wilson, respectively) corrupt activities and removing the graphic labeling the couple as "people who should be shot." Lorne Michaels admitted he did not know the Sandlers were a real couple, and that he believed they were simply characters written for the sketch.[11] The Netflix version of this episode includes the scene with the Sandlers, but edited it to remove the "People Who Should Be Shot" lower-third and cut the part where Herbert Sandler thanks Barney Frank for letting them get away with what they did to Wachovia Bank.

Andy Samberg plays Mark Wahlberg in a sketch where Wahlberg talks to animals, which is referenced by Wahlberg in the following episode.
641 5 Josh Brolin Adele October 18, 2008

Tina Fey returned again as Sarah Palin, and was joined by Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin and the real Sarah Palin making guest appearances in the cold opening. Wahlberg also appeared in a brief sketch making amends with Andy Samberg, referring to a sketch from the previous episode. Sarah Palin also appeared on "Weekend Update".

Oliver Stone makes a cameo in the opening monologue, impersonating George W. Bush.

Adele performs "Chasing Pavements" and "Cold Shoulder".

The New York Underground short film was directed by Noah Baumbach.
642 6 Jon Hamm Coldplay October 25, 2008

Coldplay performs "Viva La Vida", "Lost!", "Yellow", and "Lovers in Japan", which was cut off.

Co-stars Elisabeth Moss and John Slattery appeared in the "Ad Agency" sketch as their Mad Men characters Peggy Olson and Roger Sterling, respectively.

Amy Poehler did not appear due to giving birth hours before this episode aired.

Maya Rudolph appears as Michelle Obama in the Obama Variety Hour sketch.
643 7 Ben Affleck David Cook November 1, 2008

Ratings: 13 million viewers[12]

John and Cindy McCain appear as themselves and Tina Fey makes an appearance as Sarah Palin in the cold opening. The episode aired only three days before the 2008 presidential election. This was the last time Fey impersonated Palin as a guest on the show, although she would resume the character on the episodes she hosted in the two next seasons. McCain also appeared in "Weekend Update".

Seth Meyers anchored "Weekend Update" by himself.

David Cook performs "Light On" and "Declaration".

This episode marks the first appearance of Bill Hader's Stefon character, though he wouldn't be a Weekend Update character until next season's episode hosted by Gabourey Sidibe. Also, Kenan Thompson debuts his Grady Wilson character.
644 8 Paul Rudd Beyoncé November 15, 2008

Abby Elliott and Michaela Watkins' first episode as cast members.

Beyoncé performs "If I Were a Boy" and "Single Ladies", and appeared in a sketch about a music video of the latter.

Justin Timberlake makes a cameo during Weekend Update and in the "Single Ladies" sketch as one of the three backup dancers.
645 9 Tim McGraw Ludacris & T-Pain November 22, 2008

Ludacris and T-Pain perform "One More Drink" and "Chopped & Skrewed". Both Ludacris and T-Pain appear in the "Blizzard Man Replaces T-Pain" sketch.

Justin Timberlake was originally scheduled to be the host and musical guest for this episode, but he had to cancel at the last minute, as he explained in the previous episode.
646 10 John Malkovich T.I. December 6, 2008

Amy Poehler returns as Hillary Clinton in the cold opening and co-anchored "Weekend Update" with Seth Meyers after four weeks of being absent due to the birth of her son, Archie.

T.I. performs "Whatever You Like" and "Swing Ya Rag" with Swizz Beatz.

Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Molly Sims, and Justin Timberlake appear in the "Jizz in My Pants" digital short along with Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, and Andy Samberg.

During the production of this episode, James Franco was around the SNL set throughout the entire week, shooting a documentary feature. Franco wanted initially some footage for a class project of his, but after realizing the access he was granted to the set, he decided to make a full documentary on the entire process the cast and crew go through in order to prepare for an SNL episode.
647 11 Hugh Laurie Kanye West December 13, 2008

Amy Poehler's final episode as a castmember.

Maya Rudolph performs in a "Bronx Beat" sketch with Amy Poehler.

Kanye West performed "Love Lockdown" and a medley including "Heartless" and "Pinocchio Story".

Shortly after this broadcast, New York governor David Paterson openly complained about Fred Armisen's portrayal of him, stating that his impression was insensitive to the blind and visually impaired (Paterson would later appear with Armisen on the premiere episode of season 36)[13]
648 12 Neil Patrick Harris Taylor Swift January 10, 2009

Liza Minnelli appears in a sketch.

Taylor Swift appears in a sketch as Annie, and performed "Love Story" and "Forever & Always".

Neil Patrick Harris appears in the "Save Broadway" sketch as Mark Cohen from RENT. Harris played the same character in the Los Angeles production of RENT in 1997. In the same sketch Fred Armisen, a former drummer for the Blue Man Group, plays the center blue man.
649 13 Rosario Dawson Fleet Foxes January 17, 2009
Fleet Foxes performs "Mykonos" and "Blue Ridge Mountains".
650 14 Steve Martin Jason Mraz January 31, 2009

Steve Martin (15th time as host) performed "Late for School" on his banjo from his new album "The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo".

Jason Mraz performs "I'm Yours" and "Lucky" with Colbie Caillat.

During the original broadcast Richard Dean Anderson who played MacGyver on the TV series reprised his role in three MacGruber Pepsi ads as a helper to MacGruber.
651 15 Bradley Cooper TV on the Radio February 7, 2009

James Lipton makes a cameo during the monologue.

TV on the Radio performs "Golden Age" and "Dancing Choose".

The Lonely Island and T-Pain premiered "I'm on a Boat" from the Lonely Island's Incredibad album in the SNL Digital Short.

Drew Barrymore appears during the closing credits.
652 16 Alec Baldwin Jonas Brothers February 14, 2009

Former castmember Dan Aykroyd appears as John Boehner in the cold opening.[14]

Jack McBrayer makes a guest appearance in the opening monologue.

Cameron Diaz once again reprises her role as Kiki Deamore in the recurring sketch "The Cougar Den".

The Jonas Brothers perform "Tonight" and "Video Girl". They also appeared in a sketch and an SNL Digital Short.[15]

Alec Baldwin's nieces make a cameo introducing the Jonas Brothers' second song.[16]
653 17 Dwayne Johnson Ray LaMontagne March 7, 2009

Richard Dean Anderson returned as MacGyver for three more MacGruber shorts.

Ray LaMontagne performs "You Are the Best Thing" and "Trouble".

Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel appeared as Irving Hillman and Jessica Rabbit in "Weekend Update".
654 18 Tracy Morgan Kelly Clarkson March 14, 2009

Kelly Clarkson performs "My Life Would Suck Without You" and "I Do Not Hook Up".

Tina Fey and John Cena make cameo appearances in the cold open.

Tracy Morgan reprises his roles as Brian Fellow in Brian Fellow's Safari Planet and as Astronaut Jones.
655 19 Seth Rogen Phoenix April 4, 2009

Phoenix performs "Lisztomania," "1901" and "Too Young", which was cut off.

Seth Rogen reprises his impression of Rowlf the Dog from his first appearance on SNL.

Rogen appears in the SNL Digital Short for the music video of The Lonely Island's "Like a Boss". Rogen replaced Akiva Schaffer's vocals; however, Akiva Schaffer did make an appearance as the gun dealer. Fellow Lonely Island member, Jorma Taccone also makes an appearance in the video delivering a harassment lawsuit to Andy Samberg.
656 20 Zac Efron Yeah Yeah Yeahs April 11, 2009
Yeah Yeah Yeahs perform "Zero" and "Maps".
657 21 Justin Timberlake Ciara May 9, 2009

Susan Sarandon and Patricia Clarkson made guest appearances during the Digital Short.

Ciara performs "Love Sex Magic" with Justin Timberlake and "Never Ever".

Jessica Biel introduces "Love Sex Magic".

Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy cameoed on Weekend Update in a commentary on the theatrical release of Star Trek.

Jimmy Fallon reprised his role as Barry Gibb for another installment of "The Barry Gibb Talk Show".

Justin Timberlake (3rd time as host) won an Emmy for hosting this episode.[17]
658 22 Will Ferrell Green Day May 16, 2009

Darrell Hammond, Michaela Watkins, and Casey Wilson's final episode as castmembers.

Green Day performs "Know Your Enemy", "21 Guns" and, in a cut performance, "East Jesus Nowhere", during which Will Ferrell played cowbell. The band also appears in "Goodnight Saigon".

Tom Hanks plays himself in "Celebrity Jeopardy!", and in "Goodnight Saigon".

Norm Macdonald appears in "Celebrity Jeopardy!" as Burt Reynolds, and in "Goodnight Saigon".

Amy Poehler returned to co-anchor Weekend Update, and she accompanied Will Ferrell on a triangle for "Goodnight Saigon".

Maya Rudolph reprised her character Glenda Goodwin in the funeral sketch and sang with Will Ferrell for "Goodnight Saigon."

Paul Rudd, Artie Lange, Elisabeth Moss, and Anne Hathaway also appear in "Goodnight Saigon".

Will Ferrell reprised his impersonations of George W. Bush, Alex Trebek, and Harry Caray.

This episode premiered the same night as the series finale of its rival sketch show MADtv. Coincidentally, Artie Lange cameoed on that episode.


Title  Original air date 
"2008 Presidential Bash" November 3, 2008
The special was hosted by Amy Poehler while impersonating Hillary Clinton. Sketches included "There Can Be Only One," "CBS Evening News," "Ask President Carter," "Clinton's Qualities," "Reagan the Mastermind," "Weekend Update," "Stockdale's Joyride," "Bush's Endorsement," "Vice Presidential Debate 2008," "CNN Univision Democratic Debate 2008," "ABC Campaign '88," "2nd Presidential Debate 2008," "Debate '76," "Bush's Good Health," "The Bush Daughters," "Lip-Locked Gores," "Clinton Halloween Party," "The Democratics Candidates Debate 2008," "Clinton's Response," "First Presidential Debate 2000," a Weekend Update Political Commentary, and a special rap by Amy Poehler. This special featured cameos from Sen. John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin.
"Sports Extra 2009" January 4, 2009
Sketches included "Mangled National Anthem," "Schmitts' Gay," "United Way (II), "Read to Achieve," "Yankee Wives," "Daily Affirmation," "Locker Room Motivation," "Derek Jeter's Taco Hole," "AFC Championship," "Waikiki Hockey," "Big Bernard," "Sportscenter," "Fernando's Hideaway," "Touchdown," "Lillehammer '94," "The Charles Barkley Show," "Battle of the Sexes II," "Super Bowl Gambling Memories," "Sexual Harassment and You," "Church Chat," "Dole & Rodman in '96," "Little Chocolate Donuts," "Swim Team Motivation," and Weekend Update Commentaries.
"Just Game Shows" March 8, 2009
SNL's latest collection of some of their best game show parodies.
"Just Commercials" March 8, 2009
Another collection of some of SNL's greatest commercial parodies.
"The Best of Amy Poehler" April 18, 2009
Sketches included: A Non-Partisan Message From Sarah Palin & Hillary Clinton, Bronx Beat, Valtrex, Kaitlin and Rick Buy an Instrument, "Body Fuzion" (Digital Short), The Not So Great Adventures of the Down and Out Dollar, The Dakota Fanning Show, Weekend Update, Amy Loves Justin, Turlington's Lower Back Tattoo Remover, The Bush Daughters, I'm No Angel, Scarlett Johansson's monologue, Celebrity Jeopardy, Michael Jackson in a Roller Coaster, American Idol, The Democratic Candidates Debate, Rock of Love 2, plus clips from Walken Family Reunion, Avril Lavigne visits Weekend Update, Regis and Kelly, Barbie's Dream House, Senator Barbara Boxer, Hugo Chavez Political Roundup, Appalachian Emergency Room, Fierce: The Hot Mess Make-Over Show, Nancy Grace, Wizard of Oz, Anderson Cooper 360 and The Sarah Palin Rap.
"Just Shorts" May 17, 2009
Andy Samberg hosted this 2-hour retrospective of some of SNL's best short films including "Lazy Sunday", "Dick in a Box", "White Like Me", "Synchronized Swimmers", "La Dolce Gilda", "Don't Look Back in Anger" and more.

Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday[edit]

Saturday Night Live aired three special prime time half-hour episodes on Thursdays starting October 9. These specials, entitled Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday, focused on the United States presidential election.[18]

Title  Original air date 
"Episode 1" October 9, 2008
Bill Murray (as Himself) and Chris Parnell (as moderator Tom Brokaw) make guest appearances in the cold opening.
"Episode 2" October 16, 2008
Chris Parnell guest appears, playing debate moderator Bob Schieffer.
"Episode 3" October 23, 2008
Will Ferrell reprises his role as President George W. Bush and Tina Fey once again appeared as Gov. Sarah Palin in the cold opening.


  1. ^ "2010 Writers Guild Awards Television, Radio, News, Promotional Writing, and Graphic Animation Nominees Announced" (Press release). Writers Guild of America West. December 14, 2009. Retrieved March 28, 2011. 
  2. ^ Rice, Lynette. "'MADtv' to end its 14-year run at season's end". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 18, 2015. 
  3. ^ Spillius, Alex (September 14, 2008). "Tina Fey lands the first punch at Sarah Palin in Saturday Night Live sketch". The Telegraph. Retrieved April 12, 2015. 
  4. ^ Orloff, Brian (September 14, 2008). "Tina Fey Parodies Sarah Palin on SNL Premiere". People. Retrieved April 12, 2015. 
  5. ^ Waldo, Patrick (August 20, 2008). "Bobby Moynihan Named New SNL Cast Member". Huffington Post. Retrieved April 12, 2015. 
  6. ^ Carter, Bill; Itzkoff, Dave (November 13, 2008). "Two Women Join SNL". The New York Times. p. C4. 
  7. ^ "Live, From New York: Barack Obama!". People. September 11, 2008. Archived from the original on June 22, 2013. Retrieved April 19, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Obama tones it down as Hurricane Ike looms". Breitbart. September 13, 2008. Archived from the original on September 16, 2008. Retrieved April 19, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Rain Check? Obama Nixes SNL Visit Due to Hurricane". TV Guide. September 13, 2008. Retrieved April 19, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Diaz plays 'cougar' on TV show". Daily Express. Northern & Shell. September 21, 2008. Retrieved August 29, 2014. 
  11. ^ Gold, Matea (October 7, 2008). "'Saturday Night Live' yanks, then reposts, controversial bailout sketch". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 30, 2012. 
  12. ^ Seidman, Robert (January 14, 2010). "Charles Barkley Leads Saturday Night Live To 10.4 Million & Best Performance In 14 Months". TV By The Numbers. 
  13. ^ "Saturday Night Live: Hugh Laurie/Kanye West Trivia and Quotes on". 2011-03-12. Retrieved 2011-03-28. 
  14. ^ "SNL Archives | Episodes | Details". 2009-02-14. Retrieved 2011-04-02. 
  15. ^ "SNL Archives | Episodes | Details". 2009-02-14. Retrieved 2011-04-02. 
  16. ^ "Season 34: Episode 16". Saturday Night Live Transcripts. February 14, 2009. 
  17. ^ "Saturday Night Live - News - Yahoo! TV". Retrieved 2011-03-28. 
  18. ^ MacArthur, Amanda (2008-04-05). "New NBC Series: SNL Thursday Night Live - Fall 2008". Cinema Blend.