If you’re lucky enough to make it onto SNL, as a performer, host, or musical guest, you do not want to piss off Lorne Michaels. Otherwise, that will be your last time on SNL. That’s when you start hearing the words “lifetime ban,” mostly for doing something not to Lorne’s liking, like ad-libbing or smoking weed on live TV. Then you’ll be kicked out of Studio 8H permanently. Here are 10 comedians and bands who have been banned from SNL, including one whose moment of infamy happened 20 years ago today.
1. Martin Lawrence
The moment: the monologue.
Martin Lawrence has only appeared on SNL once, back in 1994 when he hosted. Things went south immediately, when during his monologue, Lawrence began taunting the censors and riffing on Lorena Bobbitt and cunnilingus. Subsequent airings of the episode have replaced footage of Lawrence with a graphic that roughly describes what he said, and that it almost cost many SNL employees their jobs. Here’s a transcript!
Something else concerns me and it hurts, see I’m, I’m single, I’m a single man, I don’t have nobody, I’m looking for somebody and- but I’m meeting a lot of women out there, and you got some beautiful women, but you got some out there that, uh, I gotta say somethin’. Um…some of you are not washing your ass properly. OK? Don’t, don’t get me wrong, not all, some of you, you know what I’m sayin’, uh…I’m sorry, ‘Cause uh, listen, now, I don’t know what it is a woman got to do to keep up the hygiene on the body I know, uh, I’m watching douche commercials on television, and I’m wonderin’ if some of you are reading the instructions. I don’t think so. Y’know, ’cause I’m getting with some of the ladies, smelling odors, going “Wait a minute. Girl, smell this! This you! Smell yourself, girl.”
Smell yourself! I tell a woman in a minute, douche! douche! Some women don’t like when you tell them that, when you straightforward with them. “Douche!” They, “Forget you! You cannot douche all the time, you’re gonna wash all the natural juices out the body.” I say, well, I don’t give a damn what you do, put a Tic-Tac in your ass. Put a Cert in your ass. Oh, oh, y’know, this look like a good damn place for a Stick-up up in your ass.
I’m sorry, y’all. You got to wash properly. You know, and then, you know, ’cause I’m a man, I like to kiss on women, you know, I like to kiss all over their bodies, you know. But if you’re not clean in your proper areas, I can’t…you know…kiss all over the places I wanna kiss. You know, some women’ll let you go down, you know what I’m sayin’, knowin’ they got a yeast infection. I’m sorry. Sorry. Come up with dough all on your damn lip…Got a bagel and a croissant on your lip. “Anybody got any butter?” I like jelly on mine. (Via)
Martin then mentions Crash Test Dummies are the musical guest, which is the best joke of the night.
2. Sinéad O’Connor
The moment: the musical performance.
Sinéad O’Connor was supposed to hold up a photo of a refugee child. That’s the way her performance went during the dress rehearsal, and Lorne had no problem with it — in fact, he’s since said he would have been fine with O’Connor ripping up the Pope pic, had he known she was going to do so beforehand. The only thing Lorne hates more than cunnilingus monologues is being surprised. A week later, SNL got their revenge by having host Joe Pesci joke that he taped the picture back together, before tearing apart one of O’Connor.
3. The Replacements
The moment: the musical performance.
The Replacements were a drunken, glorious mess, and they weren’t going to sober up for SNL. Their first performance, introduced by Harry Dean Stanton, came and went without incident, but sometime between Weekend Update and their second song, “Kiss Me on the Bus,” the entire band got SLOPPY on champagne and wore each others’ clothes, because they’re the ‘Mats, that’s why. Lorne couldn’t hardly wait to ban them.
4. Chevy Chase
The moment: the backstage shenanigans.
Lorne Michaels doesn’t completely hate Chevy Chase — they’re on good enough terms that Chase appeared during the cold open of Justin Timberlake’s episode last year, as part of the Five Timers Club. But Lorne has made it clear that the Not Ready For Prime Time Player will never host SNL again. In 1985, while hosting for a fifth time, Chase suggested that “SNL‘s first openly gay cast member [Terry Sweeney] star in a sketch where they weighed him every week to see if he had AIDS.” Amazingly, Chase was asked back four more times before finally being banned in 1997, when, according to Will Ferrell in Live from New York, he asked a female writer if “maybe you could give me a handjob later.” There’s the classic Chase charm.
5. Milton Berle
The moment: the standing ovation.
Uncle Miltie fancied himself Mr. Television, so it’s no wonder he and Lorne didn’t get along. In fact, Lorne didn’t even want Berle on the show, but the Powers That (N)B(C)e intervened, and Berle hosted on April 14, 1979. He quickly took over the entire set, and began “[mugging] for the camera, [doing] broad spit-takes, and [ad-libbing] jokes directly to the camera.” He wasn’t much better backstage: “He insisted on walking around in his boxer shorts and ‘proving’ the oft-whispered Hollywood rumors about his physique to anyone who ambled by. (Gilda Radner happened to walk into a dressing room at the very moment Berle was proudly displaying himself to one of the show’s writers.)” But the thing that really upset Lorne was what happened right before the end of the episode, when Berle performed “September Song” with a prearranged standing ovation from an audience filled with his friends and family members. At least SOMEONE liked it.
6. Frank Zappa
The moment: the entire episode.
Frank Zappa was a genius…and a pretentious dick. When he hosted on October 21, 1978, Zappa regularly mugged to the camera and proudly told the audience he was reading from cue cards, partially because he didn’t get along with the cast and crew (he was anti-drug; they were not), but mostly because, again, he was a pretentious dick. The monologue was infamously terrible, and although Zappa only appeared in two sketches, the hate between host and performers wasn’t hard to see, especially in “Night on Freak Mountain.” Even during the goodbye, Zappa stood apart from the cast, who he calls “friends of Chevy Chase.”
7. Steven Seagal
The moment: the week leading up to the show.
We covered Seagal vs. SNL once before, but it’s worth mentioning again:
According to the book, Live From New York: The Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, Steven Seagal was named the worst host ever to appear on the show (a fact that Lorne Michaels mentioned when Nicolas Cage hosted in season 18) due to his bad sketch ideas and inability to work with the cast and crew. David Spade had stated that it was the first time in a long time that Lorne Michaels wanted to do a hostless episode (which hadn’t been done since the first episode of season 10). (Via)
It’s hard to imagine agreeing with David Spade, but here we are.
8. Louise Lasser
The moment: the entire episode.
Louise Lasser holds the distinction of being the first performer to be banned from SNL. The Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman star/Woody Allen’s ex-wife hosted during the first season, on July 24, 1976, and she was a mess, refusing to appear in any sketches unless she was by herself or with Chevy Chase. Writer Michael O’Donoghue said she was “a nice woman going through a few problems,” including drugs (she had been arrested for cocaine possession only weeks before) and being married to Woody Allen.
9. Robert Blake
The moment: the animosity toward the crew.
Inviting future-murder trial attendee Robert Blake to host? Gee, what could go wrong? In a word: everything. In more than one word: Blake was hostile and unresponsive to the crew, especially writer Gary Kroeger, who upon handing a script to Blake, immediately had it thrown back in his face. That rascal.
10. Cypress Hill/Fear
The moment: the musical performances.
Do not smoke weed on live TV or trash the Studio 8H set. That’s the lesson here.