Some of them were raunchy, some funny and some were outlandish. They prove that on live television, anything can happen, and often does. But there’s no way Anna Kendrick’s SNL debut will be as memorable as these moments. Kendrick will host the popular comedy/variety show on March 5. She’ll be joined by Grammy Award winner Pharrell Williams.
Over its 37 seasons, Saturday Night Live has created a host of standout moments. Some SNL guest hosts proved to be so raunchy they’ve actually been banned from the show. That list includes Martin Lawrence and Andrew Dice Clay. Lawrence’s outlandish monologue, it was said, nearly cost the entire cast and crew their jobs. Regular cast member Nora Dunn refused to appear on the same show with Clay because of his supposedly humorous comments about women. Singer Sinead O’Conner was scheduled to appear on the same show, but pulled out for the same reason.
Barbra Streisand created another of the show’s memorable moments when she walked onto a Mike Myers skit in a surprise cameo appearance. Myers, dressed as “Linda Richman” was discussing Streisand with guests Madonna and Roseanne Barr when the singer stunned everyone by strolling onto the set.
Elvis Costello got under the producer’s skin in 1977 when he refused to play the scheduled song “Less Than Zero”, and instead launched into his preferred “Radio Radio.” He was banned from the program until 1989.
A non-singing performance by Ashley Simpson also stirred up controversy. Audiences often wonder whether a singer is lip-syncing words during their TV appearances, but Simpson left no doubt. Her first number, “Pieces of Me,” went smoothly. But when she started to sing the second number, “Autobiography,” audio technicians in the control room played “Pieces of Me,” by mistake. The microphone was not even to Simpson’s mouth when the words started. She later blamed her need for lip syncing on “acid reflux.”
These are moments to remember whether viewers want to or not. With past moments in mind, there’s no way Anna Kendrick’s debut will be as memorable as these.
The dreaded “F-bomb” is always a worry to producers of live TV shows; and SNL has had more than its share of the dreaded word. Among the bombers were Michael Stipe, Steven Tyler, Paul Schaffer, Norm MacDonald (during “Weekend Update”), Prince and Charles Rocket. Jenny Slate mouthed the word during her debut in 2009 and lasted only one season.
By far the most shocking SNL moment, though, came from Sinead O’Conner. After pulling out of the program the previous season because of Andrew Dice Clay, O’Conner returned the next season to favorable reviews. But she came back two years afterward, in 1992, in an appearance no one who saw it will ever forget. Singing an a cappella version of Bob Marley’s “War”, she held up a picture of Pope John Paul II and shouting “Fight the real enemy,” tore the photograph to pieces.
Whatever happens during her appearance, there’s little chance Anna Kendrick’s March 5 debut will create an SNL moment more memorable than some of these that came before it.
Opinion B. David Warner