The 41st season of Saturday Night Live began Oct. 3 with Taran Killam's impression of Donald Trump and the return of Darrell Hammond as Bill Clinton. The show's had many iconic stars in four decades on the air, including John Belushi, Eddie Murphy, and Tina Fey, but let's look back on the SNL's lesser-known alumni who made their names after leaving the show.
"Saturday Night Live" owes its existence to Jim Henson's Muppets. NBC executives worried that Lorne Michaels' irreverent live comedy program might be too edgy, so they insisted on signing the muppets on to soften the show's content. However, Henson et al. only lasted one season due to creative differences.
Gilbert Gottfried - comedian, actor and voice artist in movies like Aladdin - was part of the disastrous 1980-81 season that followed the departure of Lorne Michaels and the rest of the show's original cast. Check out Gottfried's take on the pressures of trying to replace the likes of John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray.
In 1982, a then unknown Julia-Louis Dreyfus cut her teeth in television by becoming a repertory player during Dick Ebersol's reign as SNL's executive producer. While there she met...
The co-creator of "Seinfeld" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" was hired as a writer for the 1984-85 season. However, none of his sketches made it to air. In an interview with Howard Stern in Jan 2015, David revealed that he became enraged and quit SNL after another sketch was cut. The aftermath inspired a famous "Seinfeld" episode. (Check out the full interview for details.) In October 2015, David returned to SNL, fulfilling his destiny by portraying Vermont senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
Harry Shearer - voice actor for many characters on "The Simpsons" - was a writer and cast member in 1977, and he returned to the show in 1984 as one of Dick Ebersol's "ringers." Following the departure of Eddie Murphy in 1984, Ebersol tried to keep the show alive by hiring Shearer along with Billy Crystal, Martin Short and Christopher Guest.
One Breakfast Clubber
At the height of his Brat Pack fame, Anthony Michael Hall joined SNL as part of the all-new cast that Lorne Michaels brought aboard upon his returned in 1985. When the cast didn't work out, Michaels toyed with their careers in the season finale's infamous cliffhanger: in the final sketch, a fire breaks out on set, and all the cast are trapped. The credits rolled with question marks next to the name of the cast and crew.
Hall didn't survive the fictitious inferno.
Another casualty in the cliffhanger was Robert Downey Jr., who was also recruited as a fresh face for the 1985-86 season. But Downey left his mark with "Suitcase Boy," which Rolling Stone rated as one of the show's worst sketches.
Homey the Clown
Damon Wayans' SNL stint began in the 1985-86 season and lasted only seven episodes. Frustrated with creative differences, the future In Living Color star famously had himself fired by going way off script with his portrayal of a background character. Here's the full story in Wayans' own words.