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Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live
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Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  970 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
Saturday Night is the intimate history of the original Saturday Night Live, from its beginnings as an outlaw program produced by an unruly band of renegades from the comedy underground to a TV institution that made stars of John Belushi, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin, Laraine Newman, Garrett Morris, Joe Piscopo and Eddie Murphy. This is the book that ...more
Hardcover, 510 pages
Published 1986 by Beech Tree Books
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Amy
Jul 08, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although my enthusiasm for watching Saturday Night Live has waxed and waned over the years -- I'm still fascinated by the politics, gossip and often outrageous backstage dynamics of the show. I had high hopes for this book but found it very dry. I far prefer and highly recommend Tom Shales & James Andrew Miller's "Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live." I re-read it for the third time directly after finishing this book and found it as zippy and entertaining as ever ...more
Duffy Pearce
Jun 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Loved this history of Saturday Night Live which ends just at Lorne Michaels returns. Seems to paint him as washed up and something of a failure but ends before Mike Meyers, Adam Sandler, Larry David, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Justin Timberlake ever wrote for or appeared on the show.

It's got great stuff about Louise Lasser and Milton Berle being horrible guests, makes Chevy Chase seem more sympathetic than I recalled

Does a good job of showing time and again how celebrity seems to eat
...more
Chris
Dec 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sulzer-library
I read the SNL oral history Live From New York a little over 10 years ago. I figured that was all I would need to read regarding this show. I don't really follow SNL any more -- I'm not against it, I just never really tune in -- but when my friend Mike told me that this book, a biographical expose of the first 10 years of the show, was one of his favorite non-fiction books of all time, I had to give it a shot. I'm glad I did.

In contrast with Live From New York, Saturday Night synthesizes dozens
...more
Gavin Breeden
Fascinating "backstage" look at a singular comedy show. Covers the first ten years of the show focusing primarily on the first five or six seasons. The book is full of strange and embarrassing tales of the cast and crew. Pride, racism, sexism, serious drug abuse, eating disorders, angry outbursts, self-centeredness, backstabbing, and manipulation were just a few of the things found on a weekly basis (1975-1985) in Studio 8H and Floor 17 of 30 Rock. Prepare to look at your favorite "early years" ...more
Kurt
Apr 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Too much about the sketches, way too much about Lorne and a bunch of guys I don't give two good damns about getting the show on the air, all at the expense of deeper looks at the cast. We get that the show is very important (and the analysis of the sketches does, I must say, help with that), and we get that Belushi is very charismatic and energetic, that Aykroyd is brilliant both as a writer and performer, that Chevy Chase is very cool in a certain way, but these guys go from team players to ins ...more
Todd
Jun 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was lucky enough to have this book recommended to me by one of the authors (Jeff Weingrad) whom I met in New Jersey. I found Jeff extremely entertaining in the short time we talked and happy to say this book is an accurate reflection of his entertaining manner. I won't pretend I started watching SNL when it began (I was 9) but did start watching it around 1980 so happily the second half of the book had more performers I was familiar with. That being said, the first half detailing 1975 - 1980 i ...more
Laura
Aug 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Unlike the recent Tom Shales version, this is a more journalistic account of the classic show, and in some ways is a more engaging read for benefiting from the authors' interpretations and observations. It also has a far, far more detailed account than the Shales book of the disastrous Jean Doumanian year, which Shales finesses to the extent of devoting only around two cursory pages to it. For that reason as well as others, I think this book is superior to the Shales one, at least for an account ...more
David Owen
May 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's really a four and a half star book. A fun, terrifying and insightful Look into the creation and early existence of one of the most influential comedy shows ever. I only wish it was longer and covered even more history.
Simon Sweetman
Apr 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A incredibly well researched/written behind-the-scenes look of the show's creation, rise and all of the tumult that surrounded it and its stars across it's first, formative - but always shaky - first decade. Brilliantly put together.
Erin Frost
Mar 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Good. Interesting, o.k.
Tlingit
Jun 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
I grew up on Playboy, Hustler, Mad Magazine, The Three Stooges, The Little Rascals, Buster Keaton, The Keystone Cops, Harold Lloyd, Laugh In, Hee Haw, Love American Style and The Monkees. I wasn't yet 10 when Saturday Night Live first showed on television and still i was watching it regularly every weekend. Since it was on Saturday my parents didn't have a problem with my sister and I watching it at Midnight. We still were forced to get up for church the next morning.
Reading about the actors, or
...more
Daniel
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
I am still looking for the Saturday Night Live episode that contained the following jokes, terrible though they are:


Diana Ross, the famous Mexican chef, created her first dish immediately after she quit her former music group. The name of the dish? Nacho Supreme.

The board of directors at American Greetings didn't like my idea of marketing and distributing a Strawberry Shortcake home pregnancy test.

As the son of a wedding caterer I can tell you that my favorite family driving game was "Which Pean
...more
Jim Stewart
Aug 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read!

If, like me, you love SNL and especially if you were part of the generation the show was initially aimed it, you will love this book. I thought I knew everything about the show, especially the early cast. I did not. Who knew that Dan Ackroyd , e. g., got really pissed and spray painted (and chiseled) obscenities on an NBC wall? Or that the pot and cocaine usage was even more prevalent than was reported?

This is not only a terrific SNL history, it is a fascinating behind-the-scenes loo
...more
jamie
Jun 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
i am in a major original snl mood right now, so i loved this. even with all of the difficulties, arguing, madness, i still wish i could have been there during the first few seasons of snl. when it was fresh and brand new and exciting and nobody had any idea what exactly they were doing or what was going to happen. it's pretty amazing how lorne michaels pulled it all together.

lots of good stories in here and info about who was responsible for what sketches (i love knowing things like that). and,
...more
Mike
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
It's been thirty years since this book came out and Live From New York has supplanted it as the definitive resource on SNL, but this is still a worthwhile read. For one thing, this book is nearly as long as LfNY and focuses entirely on the first ten years of the show, which allows the authors to go into much greater detail. Oft-repeated anecdotes are expanded upon here: for example, I knew that Belushi insisted his favorite band, Fear, play on the show; I had no idea this happened during the Ebe ...more
Bert
Mar 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tv
Focusing on the first ten years of the show (and really mostly on the first five years), this book is an insightful and inevitably somewhat gossipy history of how this comedy institution came to be. Be warned however, it is a surprisingly dry read, and its concluding chapters are severely outdated. (Disappointingly, this ebook edition does not include an update.) But the story it tells about those formative years are often fascinating, especially so when put into context of the global TV landsca ...more
Cliff
Jul 11, 2012 rated it really liked it


Loved this book. And it was exceedingly interesting, covering the first ten years of the landmark show wonderfully. Plus, unlike the Shales book, it's written in a narrative format. Only complaint is that, even for the 2011 digital edition/reissue, several easily verifiable factual errors are found throughout. Of course, in1985, the authors can't be faulted for relying on people's memories of certain episodes. But today one can more easily go back and see that certain sketches did indeed air or
...more
David
Sep 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read "Saturday Night" when it came out in the mid-1980s, and it still remains one of the best SNL-related books (Tom Shales' work is right there, too). The authors had a great deal of access to many of the major players, as well as the show itself, and it reads like the authoritative book that it is.

For a show that is about to turn 40, it's fascinating to see how in those early days, it was anything but a given that it would be renewed from season to season, especially after Lorne Micha
...more
Matt Dietrich
Mar 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
A great look at the early years of SNL, especially the many backstage tensions between the stars. If you became a fan during the Belushi/Ayckroyd/Gilda/Bill Murray years, then wondered how the show could so completely fall apart in the early '80s, it's explained here in great detail.

One disappointment is that the death of John Belushi, which happened after he left SNL, is treated almost as an afterthought. Maybe I'm wrong, but I would have thought his death would have had more of an effect on th
...more
Matthew Blake
Feb 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good book about the early history of SNL. The only reason I'm giving it 4 stars in stead of 5 is that I thought it would cover a bit more of the history. This book was written in 1985, so it only covers the first 10 years of a show that has been on for going on 38 years. And even though this is a newer edition, they still don't update anything on the history.

A great book if you want to know about SNL between 1975 and 1985, though.
Patrick
Sep 02, 2009 rated it liked it
An in depth look at the first five years of Saturday Night Live. Very inside look and lots of funny and interesting anecdotes from behind the scenes. The book gives you a good idea of all the personalities in the show from the actors to the writers. However, the writing wasn't great. If you really love Saturday Night Live you will probably like this book a lot. Otherwise, its a good, but not great, read.
Ystyn Francis
I read this because of my love for Sorkin's "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" and I found it fascinating. While "Saturday Night Live" is a pretty ordinary show most of the time, understanding what goes on behind the scenes has now made SNL all that more endearing to me, despite most of the original cast and crew being horrible, egocentric people. A really insightful read!
Seth
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A look at the first ten years of SNL, written when the death of John Belushi was still a fresh wound, Gilda Radner was still alive, and Lorne Michaels was just resuming his producer role on the show. So much more has happened since then, but this book remains the essential history of the early years.
Picklefactory
Mar 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Fascinating, though perhaps a little too in-depths at times: I think "And then more drama happened" could have replaced a hundred or so pages. If you want more ammunition to support the suggestion that highly creative types in groups are occasionally become out-of-control prima donnas, this book would provide it for you.
Tony
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: show-biz-books
Read this when it came out in the late eighties and had to re-read it when the Kindle edition was released.
Great book for people who remember watching Glida, Dan and John when Saturday Night Live was still finding it's feet.
Interesting time piece considering the show's place in the cultural landscape. You could almost say it became what it used to rebel against.
Ronnie Cramer
Aug 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Interesting behind-the-scenes look at SNL (the first ten years anyway). There are tons of office politics on display throughout, and the anonymous quotes (from "a former cast member," "a one time crew member," etc.) are clearly meant to settle old scores.
Katia
Jan 24, 2013 rated it liked it
De corte más profesional, sigue el detrás de bambalinas de los productores del programa y dinámicas de trabajo. Muy bien investigado pero que en ocasiones incurre en redundancias y se hace demasiado largo.
Bonnie Dean
Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Good introduction to the first seven seasons of SNL, from the Chevy Chase years through to the season that brought you "Leather Weather" and ending at the star-studded Guest-Crystal-Short extravaganza.
Logan Hughes
Dec 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Focuses on the origin story and early (70s) years of SNL, entertaining as I was watching them on Netflix at the time. Well-researched, witty. For some reason, a detail about Lorne Michaels keeping a lemon tree in his office made me really really want a lemon tree.
Keith Davis
Nov 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Extremely gossipy backstage history of SNL starting with the original cast and continuing through the Eddie Murphy and Billy Crystal years, including the disastrous 1980 season which almost got the series cancelled.
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