Julia Louis-Dreyfus has had such a storied career since her turn as Elaine Benes on Seinfeld that it can be hard to remember that there was a time when she was a young, basically unknown, performer like so many others. One of Louis-Dreyfus’ first recognizable parts was as a member of the Saturday Night Live cast from 1982 through 1985. Most comedically inclined actors would kill to be on that show, but, for Louis-Dreyfus, her time there turned out not to be the best.
I did not come out of SNL as any kind of name. I didn’t do anything particularly great when I was there. I didn’t. It’s fine. But I learned a tremendous amount. It was a very sexist environment. Since I’ve gone back, I can tell you it’s much more of an equal-opportunity environment.
So, it sounds like a lady in the Saturday Night Live cast, at least back in the day, had more than a bit of an uphill battle when it came to writing sketches and then getting them on the air, and, maybe even in performing in other people’s sketches. Julia Louis-Dreyfus told her thoughts on her time at SNL to The New York Times, while promoting the upcoming Season 5 of her HBO series Veep. It is interesting to hear her talk about the fact that she didn’t do anything particularly memorable while on the show. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened for Louis-Dreyfus if she hadn’t felt hamstrung while on the show.
Something like her experience while on SNL is certainly the kind of thing that would require some hindsight to fully make sense of and be able to use in a positive way going forward. And, Julia Louis-Dreyfus seems to have been able to do that for herself.
I was on it for three years and when I left, I made this conscious decision that I would not take any jobs that didn’t seem as if they would be really fun. That’s very simplistic and Pollyannaish sounding, but really, I noted that. I’m not doing this unless I can have a deep sense of happiness while doing it. I’ve applied that, moving forward, and it’s worked. So in that sense, I have SNL to thank.
Boy, it sounds like Julia Louis-Dreyfus was really not too fond of her time at SNL. If a certain job makes you think I can never have a job that makes me this unhappy and saps this much fun from my life again, then that was not a cool enough gig for you. Of course, she is right that she has a reason to thank the show for teaching her what she didn’t want in a working environment, if she hadn’t learned that lesson we might not have been able to enjoy her on Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The New Adventures of Old Christine or Veep.