No longer live from New York! Saturday Night Live has catapulted the careers of many of today’s most popular comedians, including Will Ferrell, Eddie Murphy, Tina Fey and Adam Sandler. In fact, the NBC sketch comedy series has become a launching pad for hit talk shows, films, sitcoms and game shows since its 1975 premiere.
Murphy, for his part, appeared as a cast member from 1980 to 1984. He went on to become a lucrative movie star, but tension between him and the show arose after David Spade joked about the Coming to America actor’s career in a 1995 sketch. “Look, children, it’s a falling star!” the Joe Dirt actor quipped following the releases of Murphy’s films Vampire in Brooklyn and Harlem Nights, which failed to win over the box office.
“What really irritated me about it at the time was that it was a career shot. It was like, ‘Hey, come on, man, it’s one thing for you guys to do a joke about some movie of mine, but my career?’” Murphy told Rolling Stone in 2011. “I’m one of you guys.”
The Nutty Professor star briefly returned to Saturday Night Live in 2015 for the show’s 40th anniversary special. However, he did not take the Studio 8H stage by force again until December 2019, when he hosted an episode that earned him his first Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.
“You don’t want to wait 30 years to come back and the show ain’t s—t,” Murphy told the Today show ahead of his hosting gig. “It be like people clapping, going, ‘I thought he was going to be so much funnier than this.’”
The comedian’s return came amid a high point in his film career. “The timing couldn’t be better,” he said. “That’s why I feel like [I’m in] a dream.”
“I’m so grateful always to be a part of that place, and then, when in my wildest dreams did I think there would ever be a candidate that looks remotely close to whatever this is?” Rudolph explained during an October 2020 appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. “I realize I started working there 21 years ago. How am I still standing? … I love it.”
Scroll through the gallery below to see where former Saturday Night Live stars are now!