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John Goodman Reflects On How Poorly His Saturday Night Live Audition Went

Kate McKinnon and John Goodman in character as drunks sitting at a bar before last call.
(Image credit: Saturday Night Live/ NBC)

I don’t know who the best host in Saturday Night Live history is. I suspect if you asked a bunch of people, you’d get quite a few different answers, but there are a core group of names you’d likely hear over and over again from Alec Baldwin to Tom Hanks to Steve Martin to John Goodman. The last has hosted a whopping 13 times and has also made a bunch of additional cameo appearances. It turns out, apparently, that Goodman was also almost a full time cast member.

The fun bit of Saturday Night Live trivia came out during John Goodman’s recent interview with former cast member Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show. The two were reflecting on past roles when Fallon mentioned having read somewhere that Goodman once auditioned for SNL. It turns out that’s true, and the audition did not go well. At all. Here’s a portion of his quote…

In 1980. It’s not that I had any material to show or anything good to do, I just knew they’d hire me just because I’m a nice guy. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever done in front of people in my life. I wrote something about 15 minutes before I went over there, and oh God, it was awful.

A strong case could be made that no television show has a better track record for finding huge stars than SNL. Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Adam Sandler, Tin Fey, Will Ferrell, Chris Farley, Amy Poehler, Chris Rock and dozens of others all got their start on the sketch comedy show, but that doesn’t mean SNL has always cast every star that tried out. In fact, you could build an all-time great cast just using people who auditioned and didn’t make the cut including Jim Carrey, Stephen Colbert, Lisa Kudrow, Mindy Kaling, Zach Galifianakis, Donald Glover, Nick Kroll, Aubrey Plaza, Jordan Peele, Jennifer Coolidge and Geena Davis.

Fortunately, Goodman obviously didn’t hold any hard feelings about his audition that didn’t go so well. In fact, that seems to be a recurring pattern for many who try out and don’t make the cut. A lot of the people on the above list returned to host after their careers blew up following other break out roles, though not as many times as Goodman. He kept coming back both because he was incredible at hosting and also because he had such a good time. Here’s what he told Fallon…

It used to be the favorite thing I’d do every year. They always made me feel at home. You’re with a bunch of smart and funny people, and it just feels great.

Saturday Night Live won’t be the first thing people look back on from John Goodman’s career. His time on Roseanne and in some all-time classic movies including the beloved Big Lebowski will be discussed first, but there’s no conversation about his incredible career that is complete without talking about SNL and all the laughs he’s gotten over the years. It’s wonderful to see how much he appreciates that.

Mack Rawden
Mack Rawden

Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, the NBA and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.