“Live from New York, It’s Saturday Night!”

SNL cover 

(Cover above: Saturday Night Live by Arie Kaplan)

On February 15, 2015, SNL plans to air a three-hour primetime special to mark its fortieth season on the air. TFCB is ready to celebrate, with the Fall 2014 release of Saturday Night Live: Shaping TV Comedy and American Culture by Arie Kaplan. The book offers a fun and informative look at the history of the show, key characters and landmark episodes, issues of diversity, and the ways in which SNL set a new and exciting comedic standard, maintaining its hold on the American comedy landscape for four decades. Back matter offers additional resources, including a test-your-knowledge catchphrase quiz and further information about some of the hottest comedy writers around who got their start on SNL.

When it first aired on NBC in 1975, Saturday Night Live was originally known simply as Saturday Night. Another show on ABC at the time was called Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell (1975-1976) and was hosted by the popular sportscaster Howard Cosell. Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell had made its series debut shortly before NBC’s Saturday Night and so it had first claim to the title. When Cosell’s show was cancelled after seventeen episodes, writer-producer Lorne Michaels arranged for his show to be re-christened Saturday Night Live. Many of the comedians who appeared either as guest stars or as cast members on Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell–comedians such as Bill Murray, Brian Doyle-Murray, Christopher Guest, and Billy Crystal–eventually became cast members on Saturday Night Live.

Check in again for more SNL trivia as we approach the primetime special next year!