15 Surprising Facts About SNL Mastermind Lorne Michaels

Lorne Michaels casts a heavy shadow over the modern comedy scene. By creating Saturday Night Live he had a hand in forming the comic sensibilities of every young person that the weekly show came into contact with. No matter who your favorite comic is, they've probably been influenced by Lorne Michaels's work with SNL. But this silver-haired Canadian is a bit of a mystery and Lorne Michaels facts are hard to come by. He rarely opens up about his life outside of show business and even when he’s talking about SNL, Michaels can be guarded. As enigmatic as he is, we still managed to put together some of the most interesting Lorne Michaels trivia that covers everything from his pre-SNL life to his thoughts on Kanye West.

Some of these Lorne Michaels fun facts were gathered from quotes about the longtime producer of Saturday Night Live from the comedians and performers that he employed, but some of the most interesting pieces of Lorne Michaels information come from the man himself. Despite giving a scant amount of interviews, the things he has said about himself are wildly interesting, and offer a rare glimpse inside one of the minds of one of the most comedically gifted talents of the 20th century.

Vote on the most interesting piece of Lorne Michaels trivia, and if you have any theories about the long time producer of Saturday Night Live, please leave them  - along with three characters and two impressions – in the comments. 

  • He Doesn't Get Academic About Comedy

    He Doesn't Get Academic About Comedy
    Photo: tfeyap / Instagram

    Even though Michaels exudes a kind of East Coast academic aura, he's quick to make sure people know that he's not really some comedy egghead. "I’m always very fearful when academics get ahold of comedy. Comedy is such a clear thing—people laugh or they don’t laugh. It’s involuntary."

  • He Likens Comedians to Monkeys

    In what is hopefully a term of endearment, Michaels once told Marc Maron, and more recently told Jerry Seinfeld that he sees all comedians as monkeys in a zoo. According to Michaels, "People go to the zoo to see the lions, but they always end up watching the monkeys."

  • There are Only a Few People That He Regrets Not Hiring

    There are Only a Few People That He Regrets Not Hiring
    Photo: _umbo / Instagram

    In over 40 years of directing Saturday Night Live (save for 5 years in the '80s), Michaels has seen enough comedic talent to never sit through another audition again, and in that time he's passed on some people whom he regrets not picking up. Among the exalted cast offs are Lisa Kudrow, Jim Carrey, Stephen Colbert, and Steve Carell. “There were lots of people who you’d see how brilliant they were,” Michaels told Time, “but you knew on some level that it wasn’t going to work.” 

    How does Michaels live with the loss? "No one gets it all right.”

  • He Loves It When Athletes Host the Show

    He Loves It When Athletes Host the Show
    Video: YouTube

    This is actually shocking, but according to long time cast member Kevin Nealon, Michaels absolutely loves it when athletes appear on Saturday Night Live. "Lorne Michaels loved them because they always knew where to hit their mark because they’re used to being told where to go on the field. When you tell them to go right there, they’re gonna be there.”