The 4 People Lorne Michaels Regrets Not Casting On Saturday Night Live

Lorne Michaels has had a long and storied history running Saturday Night Live. During the show's tenure, he’s jumpstarted the careers of many famous comedians, including Bill Murray, Adam Sandler, Kristen Wiig, Will Ferrell, Mike Myers and many, many, more. But there have still been some great comedians who have slipped through the cracks, never making it past the audition phase on the series. Michaels was recently asked who he may have missed out on the most, and he had an interesting answer. Here’s what the man had to say:

Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell auditioned. There were lots of people who you'd see how brilliant they were, but you knew on some level that it wasn't going to work. Lisa Kudrow gave a brilliant audition, but it was at the time when it was Jan Hooks and Nora [Dunn]. I wasn't at the Jim Carrey audition, but somebody who was there said, 'I don't think Lorne would like it,' and they were probably wrong, but it doesn't matter. Or maybe they were right — who knows? No one gets it all right.

So, there you have it, when looking back at 40 years of SNL auditions, there are 4 huge comedians that probably could have done a good job on the show but weren’t given the chance. Among those is Stephen Colbert, who recently finished a lengthy run over at Comedy Central and is now buttoning up a bit more to take over for David Letterman next fall. Another big name is Steve Carell, who broke big with The 40 Year-Old Virgin, but has had a brilliant career in both comedies and dramas, recently earning an Oscar nomination for his role in Foxcatcher. Lisa Kudrow is most famous for Friends, but has stayed in the TV world thanks to projects like The Comeback and Web Therapy.


Then, we get to Jim Carrey, the wacky and manic comedic personality who has actually appeared on Saturday Night Live three times during the show’s history: once during his heyday in the nineties, once in 2011 and then again in 2014 as part of the show’s 40th Season. He’s even responsible for a few memorable sketches, carrying the Matthew McConaughey Lincoln ad spoofs in his most recent episode. It kind of sucks that Lorne Michaels wasn’t even present for Carrey’s audition, but I appreciate that he defends the reasoning his staff had for cutting the popular comedian.

Lorne Michaels has missed out on four big talents he now wishes he had taken a chance on, but in a career that has spanned four decades and put dozens of names into the spotlight, four misses seems remarkably low. Additionally, it’s good to keep in mind that some great comedic minds are not so great for the sketch format. Notable among these short-tenured members are Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Robert Downey Jr., and Damon Wayans. Those individuals have had prolific acting and comedy careers but weren’t so hot on the late night circuit. Comedy’s a tough business, but with a measure of talent and the right platform, people eventually find their niche.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.