Saturday Night Live is a late-night sketch comedy series which premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, and introduced a number of new comics and distinctive, recurring characters -- much like Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In years earlier, but with an edgier, late-night sensibility. The Muppets were regular performers in the first season of Saturday Night Live (1975-76).
The Land of Gorch
- For more information see The Land of Gorch
Jim Henson's Muppets were regular performers in the first season of Saturday Night Live (1975-76). The characters, which were specifically created for the show, appeared in The Land of Gorch segments. Fifteen sketches were produced, featuring performances by Muppeteers Jim Henson, Jerry Nelson, Frank Oz, Alice Tweedie, Fran Brill, and Richard Hunt.
The series of sketches lasted from SNL's first episode to April of 1976 (and became a recurring joke in the show's second season). The book Live From New York by TV critic Tom Shales details the backstage conflict between the writers of the show, who resisted integrating the Muppets into the show during the first year, and the Muppet performers.
December 18, 2004 (Robert De Niro / Destiny's Child) - Kermit the Frog sings "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" with Robert De Niro during the opening monologue. Later in the show, Kermit, Gonzo, Fozzie and Animal sing the annual SNL Christmas song, "Christmas is Number One," with Horatio Sanz. All four Muppets (and their performers) are also present at the close of the show when De Niro thanked them for being there. The Muppeteers were Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Dave Goelz, David Rudman, and Matt Vogel. Kermit and Robert's duet was later included in the show's 2009 Christmas compilation special, "A Very Gilly Christmas," and the 2012 SNL Christmas Special on NBC. (transcript) (Video on Hulu)
December 18, 2010 (Jeff Bridges / Eminem) - Cookie Monster sings "Silver Bells" with Jeff Bridges during the opening monologue. The appearance references Sesame Workshop's Cookie Monster should host Saturday Night Live! campaign. Cookie Monster, his performer David Rudman and assistant puppeteer Matt Vogel were also present at the close of the show when Bridges thanked Cookie Monster for being there. (transcript) When Rudman arrived at the studios, he's wasn't sure exactly what Cookie would be doing; it wasn't until 11 pm to 1 am that Bridges and Rudman rehearsed. Lorne Michael commented: "That's early for us." The appearance was liked by the pre-broadcast audience, but the jokes were tweaked and the song shortened. The broken cookie was unintentional, and Rudman/Cookie's line about it being "twice as good" improvised. Their scene was later included in the 2013 Christmas compilation special.
November 19, 2011 (Jason Segel / Florence + the Machine) - In promotion of the new Muppets movie, Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Rowlf, Scooter, Gonzo, Camilla, Statler and Waldorf appeared in the opening monologue with Segel. Later on, Kermit also did the popular "REALLY?!?!" segment on Weekend Update with Seth Meyers, and Rowlf and Gonzo were seen dancing in the "Massachusetts Afternoon" sketch. Muppeteers included Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta, David Rudman, Matt Vogel, and Peter Linz. An image of Scred and Gilda Radner from The Land of Gorch appeared when the Muppets explained that they had appeared on SNL since the beginning. The Jason Segel Muppet is seen during one of the bumper stills. Paul Rudd, Jon Huntsman, Jr. and Florence Welch (from Florence + The Machine) also made several cameo appearances during the show and closed the show in the goodnights, where some of the puppeteers were exposed.
October 6, 2012 (Daniel Craig / Muse) - Big Bird (Caroll Spinney) briefly appeared on Weekend Update with Seth Meyers in response to Mitt Romney's controversial comment made in the presidential debate. (Video on Hulu)
Muppet Mentions & Spoofs
|During the time when the Muppets were still appearing regularly on SNL, Chevy Chase stood in one night when they weren't available. Using the Gorch set, Chase used his bare hands to perform a sketch about a lonely wife and her milkman.|
|In a 1976 episode, Gilda Radner reads a postcard from the Muppets who are vacationing in England (and do not appear in the episode). The postcard says that they were tracing their roots and found the felt factory where their ancestors were built, and that they discovered that they are related to the Loch Ness Monster.|
|The opening sketch in a 1976 episode featured Chevy Chase (calling from the hospital) instructing Gilda Radner to "walk like a Muppet."|
|In a Bees sketch that spoofed Peter Pan (November 27, 1976), one of the Bees (Laraine Newman) says that they are "like Muppets with longer contracts."|
|In a 1977 episode, Baba Wawa (Gilda Radner) interviews Godzilla and asks him if he's Japanese. Godzilla responds, "Uh, no. You know, a lot of people think I'm from Japan, or a Muppet, you know? Actually, I'm neither. Actually, I'm Hawaiian."|
|In the February 6, 1982 edition of SNL Newsbreak (the name of Weekend Update at the time), Brian Doyle-Murray tells a joke about Bert and Ernie coming out.|
|In a 1983 "Weekend Update" segment, it is reported that Big Bird died of anorexia.|
|In a 1983 "Weekend Update" segment, it is reported that a number of films have been banned from Norway. One of them is The Muppet Movie "because during the entire film, Miss Piggy performs with a man's hand up her dress."|
|In the March 30, 1985 episode, a photo of Jim Henson and the Muppets is seen on the wall during the "Fernando's Hideaway" sketch.|
|In a 1991 sketch, "America's Most Wanted: Former Child Stars," grown-up child star Rodney Allen Rippy (Tim Meadows) says "I'm in an audition tomorrow - I'll be the voice of a Muppet Baby!"|
|In a 1991 episode, Nat X (Chris Rock) interviews Vanilla Ice (Kevin Bacon). When Vanilla Ice says that he is from the streets, Nat X responds, "What street? Sesame Street?"|
|In a 1997 Celebrity Jeopardy parody sketch, Phil Donahue (Darrell Hammond) responded to the question "This December 25th holiday involves decorating a tree and opening presents" with a monologue on Christmas commercialism (in 14 sketches this was by far the closest any contestant ever came to giving a correct answer), stating, "Little Bobby and little Susie have hung their stockings with care. Mom and Dad are out looking for Tickle-Me-Elmo 'til five a.m., and all of a sudden, Bobby looks up and he says, 'Hey! Who is this Jesus?' (At this point, an exasperated Alex Trebek (Will Ferrell) breaks in with "You know the answer, just say it!") Meanwhile, Kris Kringle is drinking Coke! The reindeer are playing Nintendo! The elves are wearing Nike..."|
|In a 1996 episode, Bill Clinton (Darrell Hammond) tries to get Bob Dole (Norm MacDonald) to be his Secretary of Transportation by giving him a Tickle Me Elmo.|
|In the same 1996 episode of "Weekend Update," Norm MacDonald reported that "the number one selling doll this Christmas is Tickle Me Elmo. And the least popular selling doll? You guessed it - Tickle Me Frank Stallone."|
|In a 1998 Celebrity Jeopardy parody sketch, contestant Adam Sandler (played by Jimmy Fallon) sings a version of Sandler's Hanukkah Song, listing Jewish celebrities, singing "Robert DeNiro, Bela Lugosi, Snuffleupagus, and Parker Posey".|
| In a 2000 sketch, the Bloder Brothers, Wayne and Kip (Chris Parnell and Jimmy Fallon), hit on Cindy (Julianna Margulies) while the bartender, Clair (Ana Gasteyer), helps fight the creeps off.
Cindy: Oh, don’t worry, Clair. I don’t think these Muppets here could hurt me.
Kip: Well, I, for one, just changed my name to Elmo. Tickle me... [laughs]
Wayne: Uh, can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?
| In a 2000 "Weekend Update" sketch, Joacob Silj (Will Ferrell) explains to anchor Tina Fey how his life is affected by his voice immodulation disorder (the inability to control the pitch or volume of one's voice).Jacob Silj: Imagine being at a high school dance, singing along with everyone else "and a little bit softer now, and a little bit softer now, and a little bit softer now." Or how about sitting in the privacy of your church confessional and whispering to your priest, "I've had impure thoughts about that hippie puppet in the Muppet Show Band."
Tina Fey: Janice?
Jacob Silj: Janice, yes.
|In a 2000 Celebrity Jeopardy parody sketch, the last category on the board is "Famous Muppet Frogs." Alex Trebek (Will Ferrell) says, "I should add that the answer to every question in that category is Kermit." Robin Williams (Jimmy Fallon) replies "Yes it's like Kermit and John Wayne goin', 'It's not easy being green, pilgrim.' It's like Schwarzenegger, 'Ya, I'm Kermit the Frog, ya that's me, Schwarzenegger Kermit.'; Trebek's admission that Sean Connery (Darrell Hammond) "has a point" in questioning Williams' mental health marked the first time the host had ever said anything remotely positive about his least-favorite contestant.|
|In a 2001 "Weekend Update" segment, Tina Fey reported that "This week on Sesame Street, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan gave Elmo a lesson in conflict resolution. Elmo said he liked the nice man, but still won't let inspectors inside his chemical weapons plant."|
|In a 2001 "Hardball" parody, Chris Matthews (Darrell Hammond) tells Paul Begala (Chris Kattan), "Zip it, Kermit! Go back to Fraggle Rock! Let the grown-ups talk about politics!"|
|In a 2002 "Weekend Update" segment, Jimmy Fallon joked about a real news story stating "A man in Indiana was arrested for stealing a chicken, taking it to a motel, and having sex with it until it died. Police have issued a warrant for this man" - wherein a picture of Gonzo was displayed.|
|In a 2002 sketch, A.J (Dean Edwards), Free (Maya Rudolph), Baby K (Jeff Richards), and Lady Three (Queen Latifah) reference Chicken Dance Elmo.::AJ: Yo Baby K, you mackin', you must have all the chicken heads comin' after you.::Free: Yehh, yehhh!::Baby K: What do you mean? Chicken Elmo?::Lady Three: Ooh yeh yeh! He likes that Chicken Dance Elmo. That's a nature rider, I mean he got his pick of the Chicken Dance Elmos in any town.|
|In the 2002 edition of "Christmas is Number One", Tracy Morgan appeared dressed in a giant Chicken Dance Elmo costume.|
|In a 2002 Christmas sketch, a young boy asks a department store Santa (Robert De Niro) for a Chicken Dance Elmo, to which the snide Santa replied "Chicken Dance Elmo - that's great. You know what's even better? What's a better gift? An environment of emotional maturity."|
|When Justin Timberlake hosted the show in 2003, he attempted to fulfill a life-long dream - singing with Kermit the Frog. A mock Kermit the Frog puppet appeared behind a brick wall and the two began to sing "The Rainbow Connection." But the act morphed into an all-out brawl when Timberlake accidently stepped on Bill, the puppeteer (played by Will Forte). (Transcript)|
|In a 2004 sketch, Night Terrors (Snoop Dogg) says to Abe Scheinwald (Rachel Dratch), "I like you, weird old dude. You´re like that old Muppet that be hanging in the balcony criticizing people."|
|In a 2004 sketch parodying "Hardball with Chris Matthews," Matthews (Darrell Hammond) commented on Mary Beth Cahill's (Amy Poehler) wide-eyed appearance, stating "I haven't seen eyes like that since Jim Henson glued 'em to a sock."|
|In a 2005 "Weekend Update" segment, Amy Pohler reported that "This season's Sesame Street will begin running stories about healthy eating habits with Cookie Monster learning that there are anytime foods like vegetables and sometimes foods like cookies. Executives are also considering changing the characters name to Pilates Monster." A graphic of Cookie Monster doing Pilates was shown, to which Amy commented "Tight abs."|
|The January 14, 2006 episode featured the sketch "SmorgasbØrd," a fake Swedish cooking show starring Scarlett Johansson and Seth Meyers. The program featured a cut-away commercial in the middle featuring Andy Samberg as the Swedish Chef in an ad for "Swedish Chef Ringtones" (a take-off on the Crazy Frog/Axel F ringtone). The Chef sang in faux-Swedish while an announcer stated "You asked for it. You wanted it. Now here it is, Swedish Chef ringtones. The Swedish Chef - when it comes to Scandinavia, he's what's cooking!"|
|The February 4, 2006 episode, three Hamas leaders (played by Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, and Seth Meyers) tell Steve Martin that they are fans of "all three" of Martin's movies: The Jerk, The Man with Two Brains, and The Muppet Movie.|
|A "Saturday TV Fun House" segment from the April 15, 2006 episode mocked Disney's direct-to-video sequels of their classic animated films. In the segment, two kids are taken by Mickey Mouse into the Disney Vault. While there, the children unearth a number of the company's dirty secrets, including a bound and gagged Jim Henson and Kermit. Mickey breaks down: "He wouldn't sell! He wouldn't sell....!" (a reference to a broken deal between the Henson and Disney companies circa 1990).|
|In an October 2006 cartoon by Robert Smigel, President ch displays a pair of political attack ads the Republicans will use against the Democrats during the upcoming midterm elections. The first ad has Ted Kennedy in a Dracula costume saying he wants to Cut and Run. He then proceeds to French kiss Osama Bin Laden. Barack Obama then appears dressed as Count von Count from Sesame Street counting "One Gay Marriage, etc."|
|In the January 8, 2007 "Weekend Update" segment, Amy Pohler reported that "new research shows that women think men with square jaws are good short-term partners, while men with softer, rounder faces are perceived as better long term mates. In other words, you date Bert but you marry Ernie." A graphic of the Muppet duo was then displayed.|
|In the January 20, 2007 episode, in a sketch called "Two A-holes at an Adoption Agency," the female "a-hole" (Kristen Wiig) shows a picture of Baby Gonzo and asks if their new baby can look like him.|
|In the October 6, 2007 episode, in a sketch called "Rowlf & the Swedish Chef," Rowlf (host Seth Rogen) and the Chef (Andy Samberg) introduce themselves on the main stage. Rowlf, at the piano, offers to play "Rainbow Connection," but the song gives the Chef a bad recollection of being asked by Celine Dion to perform it. They are joined on stage by Animal (Bill Hader), Zoot (Fred Armisen) and Janice (Maya Rudolph), for a none-too-subtle performance of "Beyond the Sea."|
|The opening of the March 1, 2008 episode featured a satire of the motion picture Juno and its rather hip dialogue such as "honest to blog." Screenwriter Diablo Cody (played by Andy Samberg) asks Ellen Page (playing herself), "What is your dental damage, Kermit the Blog?"|
|The March 8, 2008 episode featured a skit with cast member Kristen Wiig's character Penelope, who has a habit of one-upping the people around her. Amy Adams' character is a traffic school teacher who finally gets fed up with student Penelope and says, "You know what Penelope, Penelope I have had enough . . . I guess now's a good time to tell everyone I'm friends with Kermit the Frog. What do you think of that? . . . " Penelope responds that "Um, guess I'll say that, um, I'm best friends with all Muppets. Including Scooter, so, I was invited to all of their weddings, so . . . "|
|The January 10, 2009 episode featured a skit with Kristen Wiig's recurring character Penelope, a habitual braggart with a compulsive need to one-up everyone around her. Amid her outlandish claims, Penelope states that she used to be a puppet and was on Fraggle Rock.|
|In the Weekend Update for February 14, 2009, Angie Tempura (Kristen Wiig) appears to give her insight on who should or who should not win the Oscars. When she gets to who should not win, she refers to the Oscars as the Oscar the Grouch awards.|
|The Muppet Movie was spoofed on April 4, 2009 in a sketch called "Muppet Bus", with Seth Rogen once again playing Rowlf the Dog. Other cast members appeared as other Muppets -- characters included Fozzie Bear (Jason Sudeikis), Gonzo (Bobby Moynihan), Camilla, Kermit the Frog (Will Forte), Beaker (Kristen Wiig), The Swedish Chef (Andy Samberg), Animal (Bill Hader), Zoot (Fred Armisen) and Janice (Michaela Watkins). In the sketch, the Muppets sing "Movin' Right Along" as they barrel down the highway in the Electric Mayhem Bus. The fun turns dark when Rowlf hits somebody with the bus, and keeps driving. (Animal screams, "Hit and run! Hit and run!") The bus gets pulled over by a cop, which turns out to be a cameo by Nipsey Russell (Kenan Thompson). Zoot shoots the cop, and Rowlf drives away. They sing "The Muppet Show Theme" as they head for Mexico. (See NBC.com for the clip.)|
|The same episode includes Fraggle Rock as the address for a CD mail-away.|
|In the Weekend Update for November 14, 2009, Seth Meyers reports that New York City declared November 10 as "Sesame Street Day" and temporarily named a street after the show, "but if anyone pops out of a trash can there, don't stop and chat with them."|
|The opening monologue for Blake Lively's December 6, 2009 show commented on her meeting the Muppets at the Christmas in Rockefeller Center after party. Andy Samberg, dressed as the Swedish Chef then appeared, followed by other cast members dressed as Animal (Bill Hader), Fozzie (Jason Sudeikis), Gonzo (Bobby Moynihan), Beaker (Kristen Wiig), Zoot (Fred Armisen), and Janice (Jenny Slate).|
|In that same episode's Weekend Update, Seth Meyers spoke about Cookie Monster's appearance on The Tyra Banks Show for the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street.|
|In the Weekend Update for March 6, 2010, Will Forte sings a song about women in the workplace for Women's History Month, which included the lyric, "Miss Piggy, talking pig."|
|On September 25th, 2010, musical guest Katy Perry appeared wearing an Elmo T-shirt in a Bronx Beat sketch with host Amy Poehler and special guest Maya Rudolph, lampooning the controversy around the Hot and Cold musical video of Sesame Street. (Hulu)|
|In the Weekend Update for December 11, 2010, Stefon (Bill Hader) shares some of the hottest spots in New York for Christmas, which included "An entire room of Puppets doing karate (...) because its that thing that when someone calls Miss Piggy fat and she goes "HAYA!!!!!!". Later, reciting a version of The Twelve Days of Christmas, he includes the line "Five Homeless Elmos".|
|In the January 9, 2011 episode, an impressionist-turned-psychic played by Jim Carrey channeled Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, despite the fact that they are neither dead nor human.|
|SNL Digital Short. See The Lonely Island.|
|During the opening monologue by host Alec Baldwin in the September 24, 2011 episode, Baldwin mentions that he has beaten Steve Martin in the number of hostings for SNL. He comments on Steve's talent by saying "What's that thing he plays, that round guitar thing that Kermit the Frog plays?...the banjo, yeah."|
|During the November 5, 2011 edition of Weekend Update, Seth Meyers referred to a then-recent study on how people who say they feel happy live 35% longer than those who are less happy, remarking "which means that eventually, Ernie will have the house to himself."|
|At the end of a segment featuring Jimmy Fallon in the December 17, 2011 episode, Fallon and his reflection (Andy Samberg) sings a verse of "The Rainbow Connection".|
|During Seth MacFarlane's opening monologue in the September 15, 2012 episode, he sang a song about hosting the show and his voices and impressions, and at one point, broke into a Kermit the Frog impression.|
|During the October 6, 2012 Weekend Update (before Big Bird's appearance), Seth Meyers mentions Mitt Romney's PBS remark, saying it's a shame, as "Mitt" would make a great Muppet name. He adds that since borrowed money from China is what funds PBS, he now understands why "Sesame Street was brought to you by the letter this," displaying a Chinese letter.|
|During the opening monologue in the October 13, 2012 episode, host Christina Applegate performs a song about the lack of holidays during early autumn. Bill Hader, Kenan Thompson and Bobby Moynihan appear, bringing out puppet characters called "The Fruppets" (including Kirby the Toad, Fozzie the Badger and Gronzo, "a weird sick little rat thing"), who have specials this time of year to combat the many Muppet Christmas specials. They also have a Swedish Chef knock-off - The Dane Cook (portrayed by Jason Sudeikis).|
|During a sketch in the February 1, 2014 episode, a repairwoman (host Melissa McCarthy) gets into a fight with a Frida Kahlo model (Nasim Pedrad), whom she refers as "Latino Bert from Sesame Street."|
- A 1995 episode of Sesame Street featured a spoof of the recurring Saturday Night Live sketch (and films) "Wayne's World", entitled "Telly's Town". In the episode, Telly and Big Bird put on a show similar to Wayne's World - and acting similar to Wayne and Garth. Mike Myers (as Wayne) appeared as a tuba deliveryman in the episode, as well. A monster resembling Garth appears at the end of the episode, playing in the band.
- Ernie's final song in the video, 123 Count With Me features a lyric where he asks the viewer to count a trio of "wild and crazy guys".
- A sketch from Season 30 of Sesame Street features Telly as "King Telly-Tut," singing about his triangle-loving Egyptian ancestor in a musical number which parodies Steve Martin's famous "King Tut" routine from the SNL episode he hosted on April 22, 1978.
- The Sesame Street resource video The Get Healthy Now Show features a group of healthy foods, who call themselves "The Not Yet Ripe Fruit and Veggie Five," referencing The Not Ready For Prime Time Players.
- In a Sesame Street sketch, Hansel and Gretel spoof Saturday Night Live's "Hans and Franz" by saying "We just want to drop *clap* bread crumbs" with thick Austrian accents. (First: Episode 4125)
- A 2008 t-shirt by Coastal Concepts depicts Ernie and Bert as Georg Festrunk and Yortuk Festrunk, Dan Aykroyd and Steve Martin's "Two Wild and Crazy Guys" characters from SNL's third season.
- On November 23, 2010, Sesame Workshop launched a viral marketing campaign on Facebook and YouTube called Cookie Monster should host Saturday Night Live!
- In Miss Piggy's Rules, Miss Piggy gives a breakdown of shorthand used in personal ads, among which are the initials SNL (used for Saturday Night Live).
- In the Muppet Babies episode "Muppets Not Included", Baby Gonzo takes orders in a diner and yells out "Cheeseburger! cheeseburger! cheeseburger!" referencing the "Olympia Cafe" sketch that recurred from 1978 to 1979.
"Motherlover", a song by Justin Timberlake performed on SNL, was nominated at the 61st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, versus "I Wish I Could Be Santa Claus", from A Muppet Christmas: Letters to Santa. Both lost to Hugh Jackman's opening number at the 81st Annual Academy Awards.
Cast & Crew
- Don Pardo, announcer (1975-1981, 1982-current)
- Dan Aykroyd, cast member (1975-1979)
- John Belushi, cast member (1975–1979)
- Chevy Chase, cast member (1975–1976)
- Jane Curtin, cast member (1975–1980)
- Laraine Newman, cast member (1975–1980)
- Gilda Radner, cast member (1975–1980)
- Albert Brooks, filmmaker (1975)
- Richard Belzer, extra (1975-1980)
- Cheryl Hardwick, band member and composer (1975-2000)
- Brian Doyle-Murray, cast member and writer (1978-1982)
- Mitchell Kriegman, writer (1980)
- Gilbert Gottfried, cast member (1980–1981)
- Eddie Murphy, cast member (1980–1984)
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus, cast member (1982–1985)
- Billy Crystal, cast member (1984–1985)
- Martin Short, cast member (1984–1985)
- Joan Cusack, cast member (1985–1986)
- Robert Downey, Jr., cast member (1985–1986)
- Rachel Dratch, cast member (1999-2006)
- Robert Smigel, writer and featured performer (1985–2008)
- Kevin Nealon, cast member (1986–1995)
- Conan O'Brien, writer (1987-1991)
- Ben Stiller, featured performer (1989)
- Mike Myers, cast member (1989-1995)
- Chris Rock, cast member (1990–1993)
- Rob Schneider, cast member (1990–1994)
- Adam Sandler, cast member (1991-1995)
- Sarah Silverman, featured performer (1993–1994)
- Michael McKean, cast member (1993–1995)
- Jay Mohr, featured performer (1993-1995)
- Molly Shannon, cast member (1995–2001)
- Hugh Fink, writer (1995-2002)
- Stephen Colbert, voice of Ace in "The Ambiguously Gay Duo" (1996–2007, 2011) and guest writer (1996)
- Tina Fey, writer and cast member (1997-2006)
- Jimmy Fallon, cast member (1998-2004)
- Horatio Sanz, cast member (1998–2006)
- Maya Rudolph, cast member (2000-2007)
- Amy Poehler, cast member (2001-2008)
- Seth Meyers, writer and cast member (2001-2014)
- Fred Armisen, cast member (2002-2013)
- Bill Hader, cast member (2005-2013)
- Andy Samberg, cast member (2005-2012)
- Fátima Ptacek, extra cast member, two episodes (2009)
- Bobby Moynihan, cast member (2008-present)
- Nasim Pedrad, cast member (2009-2014)
- Vanessa Bayer, cast member (2010-present)
- Taran Killam, cast member (2010-present)