- Getting a role on the late-night comedy series “Saturday Night Live” is no easy feat.
- In the past, A-list actors like Jim Carrey, Lisa Kudrow, and John Goodman were rejected.
- Comedians like John Mulaney and Kevin Hart have also auditioned for the series but were not cast.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
“Somebody who was there said, ‘I don’t think Lorne would like it,’ and they were probably wrong, but it doesn’t matter,” he said. “Or maybe they were right — who knows? No one gets it all right.”
Regardless of the rejection, Carrey would go on to have an immensely successful comedy career, with films like “Dumb and Dumber” (1994), and would eventually grace the “SNL” stage.
That said, he would later go on to be a part of the show through writing and voiceover work for “TV Funhouse,” a series of “SNL” sketches that were adult humor in a cartoon format.
He would also star on one of the show’s most popular cartoons, “The Ambiguously Gay Duo” as the character Ace, opposite Steve Carell as Gary.
Following his time at “SNL,” Colbert went on to become famous for his political-comedy persona on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.”
The founder of the school, Laraine Newman, was an original “SNL” cast member and had put in a good word for Kudrow to Michaels, who came to LA to see a Groundlings performance.
Following his visit, Michaels picked actress Julia Sweeney over Kudrow.
Michaels later told Vanity Fair that he thought Kudrow was extremely talented and her audition was “brilliant” but he knew she wasn’t a fit for the series at the time.
“I remember being super disappointed,” Kudrow told Vanity Fair. “I was pretty disappointed because I thought, ‘Maybe you’re one of those people for whom good things don’t happen.'”
Of course, good things did happen for Kudrow.
A few years later she became a household name playing Phoebe Buffay on “Friends” and she ended up hosting “SNL,” too.
Unfortunately, she was also passed over for Julia Sweeney.
Speaking to Vanity Fair, her fellow Groundlings member Kudrow recalled Griffin crying after realizing Michaels had not picked either of them for “SNL.”
Griffin confirmed that the loss was a hard one for her. “We are still not over it,” she said. “I don’t care what Lisa says.”
Regardless of missing out on a “Saturday Night Live” role, Griffin went on to become a famous stand-up comic and comedic actress in her own right.
In the article, he described seeing a bowl of candy on Michaels’ desk and feeling like the sweets were somehow a test. Throughout the interview, he recalled being tense and anxious.
During a self-described “staring contest” with Michaels, Maron said he couldn’t help but break eye contact.
“I broke and I took a candy,” he wrote. “As soon as I took the candy I swear to God Lorne shot a look at the head writer that clearly connoted to me that I had failed the test. I walked out of there thinking I ruined my career because of a Jolly Rancher. I don’t even like Jolly Ranchers.”
During Glover’s opening monologue, he said he’d auditioned to be on “SNL” twice.
Even though he didn’t make the cut, he went on to be a successful actor, writer, producer, and musician in his own right.
“I became really obsessed with comedy and improv,” she told the publication. “I wanted to be on that show for as long as I could remember.”
In 2005, she interned at “SNL” and in 2008 she got to audition for the show, but she didn’t get cast. However, her luck turned when she was offered a role in the 2009 Judd Apatow film “Funny People.”
That role brought her to Los Angeles, which is where she ultimately landed her breakout roles on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” and in “Scott Pilgrim vs the World” (2010).
The compilation also included clips of auditions from stars that never made the show, including a pre-beard Zack Galifianakis.
The actor told GQ that after not making the show in 1999 he worked as a part-time writer on “SNL” for just two weeks.
Although his time on “SNL” was brief, Galifianakis went on to become a massive comedy star, appearing in memorable films like “The Hangover” (2009) and voicing characters on comedies like Fox’s “Bob’s Burgers.”
Hart, famous now for his stand-up comedy and comedic film roles, has spoken often about his experience auditioning for the series.
In 2013, Hart joked about how bad his “SNL” audition was in his opening monologue when he hosted the show for the first time.
He said that he did an impression of Robert De Niro using only facial expressions and an impression of Denzel Washington from “Training Day” (2001) even though he’d never seen the film.
On “Conan” in 2015, Hart said he also did a poor impression of NBA coach Avery Johnson and said it was evidence enough that Michaels was right to not cast him.
She was the only one of the group who was not cast on “SNL.”
In a 2004 interview with Los Angeles Magazine, Coolidge recalled the experience and said not getting cast was best for her because she didn’t think she could have handled the mental stress of being on the series.
“I was spared a bullet,” she said. “I think of all the demons, and playing politics… I probably would have self-destructed on ‘SNL.'”
Coolidge has since made her name in comedy by starring in popular films like “American Pie” (1999) and “Legally Blonde” (2001).
“The first time it was suggested to me to audition to ‘SNL’, I said, ‘No, thanks, guys. I don’t need that sinking ship … I’m on ‘The State’ on MTV.'”
Following the cancellation of “The State,” she said she ” went back with my tail between my legs and actually did audition.”
She described the audition as “terrifying” and said she didn’t get any laughs from the staff and wasn’t cast.
Kenney-Silver went on to star on shows like Comedy Central’s “Reno 911!” instead.
He was not cast, but this was perhaps for the best since it freed Goodman up for a major role on ABC’s comedy “Roseanne.”
After becoming a household name and starring in numerous films and television shows, Goodman eventually ended up on the “SNL” stage at least 12 times as a host.
Since being on “SNL” was her childhood dream, Kaling said she made a deal with “The Office” showrunner Greg Daniels, who said he would let her out of her contract if she was offered a role as an actress on the show.
Kaling went to New York to audition for “SNL” and was denied a role as a performer.
Michaels did, however, offer her a job as a writer and Kaling hoped that she could take the position and work behind-the-scenes long enough to eventually become a performer.
But Daniels said this wasn’t the deal they’d made — and Kaling stayed with “The Office,” which successfully ran for nearly a decade.
“It was really a life-changing thing,” Kaling said. “I think the course of my career would have gone really differently had I left ‘The Office’ and done that instead.”
But in 2006, Reubens told Entertainment Weekly that he knew he wouldn’t get cast as soon as he saw actor Gilbert Gottfried in the audition room.
“It really seemed like I was going to be on ‘SNL’… I walked in the room, [saw comic Gilbert Gottfried], and I said, ‘It’s not going to be both of us. We’re the same type of performer.’ I knew then I wasn’t going to get it,” he told the publication.
The rejection fueled Reubens to produce his own comedy series, “The Pee-wee Herman Show” — and the rest is history.
As a part of her audition, Kemper was asked what era of “SNL” she grew up with, to which she almost responded with a wrong answer out of nervousness.
Thankfully, Meyers intervened and helped jog her memory, though she did not end up landing a role as a cast member.
He auditioned feeling like there was no way he would be cast because the show was “flush with white male brunettes, they had the best in the business …”
He added that he was a stand-up comedian and didn’t think he could perform the way the rest of the cast could. Still, even though he had no expectations he said the audition went great and people laughed.
Two days after Mulaney’s audition, he was offered a job as a writer on “SNL.” He worked on the show for four seasons.
Mulaney later went on to have a deal with Netflix, producing multiple comedy specials. He also hosted “SNL” four times.
In a 2013 conversation with Michael Cera at the 92nd Street Y, the comedian recalled going down to New York to audition for “SNL” in the early 1990s and bombing his audition.
He told Cera he didn’t have long-term goals at the time, he simply enjoyed having fun.
“I made a stupid videotape of myself doing hopefully funny things,” she said. Davis said she later had a “pretty awkward” lunch with then-stars of the show including Billy Crystal, Chris Guest, and Harry Shearer.
She added, ” … It was like, ‘OK, what’s funny about you? Just prove to us that you’re funny,’ and it was this lunch, and so it was definitely weird!”
Regardless, she said, she’s “always loved the show.”
During a 2020 comedy show to SUNY Syracuse students, he shared that once auditioned for “SNL.”
He joked it was “unsuccessful” after he poorly impersonated Paul McCartney in front of Michaels, who turned out to be a huge Beatles fan.
“It went OK,” he said, adding that the room was pretty quiet.
According to a 2019 interview with The Daily Beast, he practiced his audition with Mulaney. He thought he was going to hear high praises from Michaels, but did not end up booking the gig.
In the end, he felt it “all worked out,” because a year later, he ended up on FX’s “The League.”
Kroll also went on to star on Comedy Central series and even produced hit Broadway comedy, “Oh, Hello!” with Mulaney.
At the time of his audition in 2008, “SNL” was looking for someone to play Obama, and Peele auditioned to fill in the presidential shoes.
He did not get cast, and then-cast member Fred Armisen played the president instead.
In a 2012 interview with Vulture, Nanjiani said he took the leap to audition because “Portlandia” was run by Broadway Video, a company Michaels owns. He was hesitant at first because he never did characters, but the company wanted him to do it so he auditioned with standup comedy.
“I did this audition and they asked me to come and write for a few weeks, and I could only do one week, so I went in and wrote for a week,” he recalled.