Article by Brittany Gould | esPResso Committee Member
“Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!” Hundreds of Hollywood stars, ranging from comedians, actors, actresses, professional athletes and musicians, have passed through the doors of Studio 8H. “Saturday Night Live” (“SNL”) alumni, current cast members, previous celebrity guest hosts and friends of the show came together for a historic night celebrating “Saturday Night Live’s” 40th anniversary mark on Sunday, Feb. 15. The show aired live on NBC.
Viewers got a first glimpse of the special during the Big Game when a commercial aired that highlighted many of the show’s guests. There were also numerous print and online features looking back at how the show has taken American pop culture and turned it into comedy for four decades. The show even created its first SNL app leading up the special that features more than 5,550 skits, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Fans were encouraged to tweet along with the show using #SNL40, and the show posted plenty of behind-the-scenes pictures on its Instagram account throughout the night.
Close friends Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake kicked off the anniversary extravaganza with a comedic medley of the pair’s most memorable skits. Steve Martin’s opening monologue created a 10-person pile up including Tom Hanks, Alec Baldwin, Melissa McCarthy, Chris Rock, Peyton Manning and Paul McCartney, to name a few. The high school reunion-esque show was filled with skits familiar to “SNL” fans. A “Jeopardy” parody included Will Ferrell’s impression of Alex Trebek and Kate McKinnon’s realistic Justin Bieber impersonation. However, Bradley Cooper and Betty White’s make-out session during “The Californians” skit was the cause of much Twitter buzz. Other celebrity guests included: Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld and Derek Jeter.
The wide range of musical performances of the night commenced with Paul McCartney singing “Maybe I’m Amazed.” Later in the show, Miley Cyrus performed a cover of Paul Simon’s “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover.” However a performance by Kanye West left many viewers confused when he laid flat on the stage with a microphone suspended over his mouth for the first half of his multi-set production. West was also accompanied by Chicago rapper Vic Mensa and Sia for the rest of his performance. The special garnered the highest ratings that the show has seen in nearly 10 years, according to Variety.
With more than 23.1 million viewers watching throughout the night and an average rating of 7.8, the special was a great way to pay homage to the show’s legacy. “Saturday Night Live’s” 40th anniversary marked the late-night television show as a prominent source of entertainment for American viewers and hopefully will continue to inspire future generations for many years to come.