On April 20, 1991, Steven Seagal hosted (with musical guest Michael Bolton!) with a performance so “listless and riddled with mistakes,” as Rolling Stone described it, that some wondered “if he might just quit, mid-episode.” Then-SNL writer Bob Odenkirk called it a “nightmare” working with the Putin-loving actor, who cast member David Space said “didn’t want to go along with what the plan was that week… I think that was the first week that I heard talk about replacing the host and just doing a cast show.”
Seagal, whose flat delivery and inability to make himself the butt of the joke polarized everyone from Norm MacDonald (“Just not a nice guy,” Norm said about Seagal) to Tim Meadows (“He just wasn’t funny, and he was very critical of the cast and writing staff”), is now banned from returning. He’ll never wear his kimono in Studio 8H again.
Seagal’s episode quickly became infamous. SNL producer Lorne Michaels quickly removed it from rerun rotation and banned the actor from returning. But, by the start of season 18 in the fall of 1992) Michaels was at least willing to make fun of it.
Nicolas Cage was the host for SNL’s Sept. 26, 1992, episode. In one sketch, the actor lamented to Michaels that fans will probably think he’s “the biggest jerk who’s ever been on the show.” The producer’s response? “No, no. That would be Steven Seagal.”
If you’ve never seen Seagal’s episode, Podcast the Ride (one of the best podcasts around) co-host Scott Gairdner compiled the worst moments into a 60-second video. Future generations will study his pronunciation of “Michael Bolton.”