Saturday Night Live premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975. That's right, this sketch comedy show has been running for more than 40 years. With all those hours of television and all those crazy personalities in one place, making live television, there are bound to be more than a few truly shocking moments. The top 18 most shocking SNL moments on this list are legendary.
SNL has brought so many hilarious comedians to the mainstream and kick-started many wonderful film careers (and also some not-so-wonderful ones). But not everyone was successful as a host or a musical guest. Some hosts decided to take matters (and material) into their own hands after feeling censored by producers and/or the network. Some musical guests changed their playlists at the last minute, or just forgot what they were up there doing altogether.
Below we celebrate the most shocking moments from the television institution that is Saturday Night Live. Vote up the moments you were most shocked by below. And remember: It's never a good idea to rip up a picture of the pope on live television.
In 2008, "Weekend Update" took jabs at David Paterson, then the governor of New York. Depicting Paterson as a short-sighted fool with no idea where he was, the writers failed to realize not only was Paterson actually legally blind, but that their sketch openly mocked disabled people. Paterson came out against the sketch, calling it "third-grade humor," while the National Federation of the Blind also denounced the depiction.
While the video above doesn't depict the infamous '08 sketch, it still showcases how SNL used Paterson's disability to make him a moron.
One of Mike Myers's best SNL characters was Linda Richman, who hosted "Coffee Talk," a recurring sketch in which Richman cartoonishly talked about current events. In addition to the current events chatter and individualized bits, each episode ALWAYS mentioned Barbra Streisand.
Then one day, with Madonna and Roseanne Barr on as guests, Babs showed up... unbeknownst to anyone in the cast or audience. It was awesome. All three women on "Coffee Talk" just stared, stunned. She waved and left.
During Martin Lawrence's opening monologue, he went off script, complaining that the producers were trying to censor him and cut some of his jokes. He then proceeded to discuss all manner of things that definitely should have been censored for an NBC broadcast.
Re-runs of the episode featured an alternate edit and Lawrence was never asked back.
NBC is a powerful force on the internets and it's nearly impossible to hunt down the original clip. So enjoy some Martin Lawrence stand-up and pray to the internet gods that someday the clip surfaces.
Andy Kaufman was a regular in the early seasons of SNL (think of him as the Justin Timberlake of the late 70's). He'd show up, do his Andy Kaufman thing, then leave. Sometimes he even pre-taped and wasn't actually live at all. But his routine of wrestling women rubbed audiences the wrong way.
So on his 16th appearance, Kaufman came on stage and asked the at-home audience if he should keep coming back or be banned forever. He gave out a 1-900 number to vote. Viewers voted 195,544 to ban him, versus 169,186 for him to return. He thanked his 169,186 supporters on air, but was never on SNL again.
None of that footage is publicly available, but if you like Kaufman here's a glorious 10 minutes of his HBO special.