Saturday Night Live (season 3)

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Saturday Night Live (season 3)
The title card for the third season of Saturday Night Live.
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes20
Original networkNBC
Original releaseSeptember 24, 1977 (1977-09-24) – May 20, 1978 (1978-05-20)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 2
Next →
Season 4
List of Saturday Night Live episodes

The third season of Saturday Night Live, an American sketch comedy series, originally aired in the United States on NBC between September 24, 1977, and May 20, 1978.

In the "Anyone Can Host" episode—for which a contest found a non-celebrity to host the show—the musical guest, Elvis Costello, halted his band, the Attractions, seven seconds into the song "Less Than Zero", launching into "Radio Radio", an as-yet unreleased song critical of mainstream broadcasting. (The Sex Pistols were originally booked to appear on the show, but were denied visas to enter America.) The change angered Lorne Michaels, who banned future appearances on the show for a while. Costello would not be invited back to the show until 1989.[1]

Chevy Chase hosted during the season, making him the first cast member to host after leaving the show. Right before the end-of-the-show onstage goodbyes, a loud altercation broke out backstage between Chase and relatively new cast member Bill Murray. After several insults were exchanged (including Chase referencing Murray's acne scarred skin and Murray calling Chase a "medium talent"), the two actors began to physically attack each other. Although by most accounts the fight had been at least partially instigated by John Belushi, he was the one (along with Dan Aykroyd) that broke up Murray and Chase only moments before the entire cast regrouped on stage in front of the live television cameras. Chase would host the show several times throughout the show's history, though he was unpopular with the cast and crew.[2]

The DVD set of the entire season was released on May 13, 2008.


Prior to the start of the season, 2 new cast members were added as featured cast members which were Al Franken and his partner Tom Davis. Meanwhile Dan Aykroyd joined Jane Curtin as an anchor for Weekend Update.

Cast roster[edit]

Repertory cast members[edit]

Featured cast members[edit]

bold denotes Weekend Update anchor


Tom Davis and Al Franken got prominent amounts of screen time.[citation needed] Brian Doyle-Murray and Don Novello joined the writing staff. Michael O'Donoghue temporarily left the show.[citation needed]

This season's writers were Dan Aykroyd, Anne Beatts, Tom Davis, Jim Downey, Brian Doyle-Murray, Al Franken, Neil Levy, Lorne Michaels, Marilyn Suzanne Miller, Don Novello, Michael O'Donoghue, Herb Sargent, Tom Schiller, Rosie Schuster and Alan Zweibel. The head writer, like the previous season, was Michael O'Donoghue.


No. in
HostMusical guest(s)Original air date
471Steve MartinJackson BrowneSeptember 24, 1977 (1977-09-24)

482Madeline KahnTaj MahalOctober 8, 1977 (1977-10-08)

493Hugh HefnerLibby TitusOctober 15, 1977 (1977-10-15)

  • Libby Titus performed "Fool That I Am".[4]
504Charles GrodinPaul SimonOctober 29, 1977 (1977-10-29)

  • Simon performed "Slip Slidin' Away"[4] and "You're Kind"[4] (a song from Still Crazy After All These Years), accompanied on both songs by harmonica player Toots Thielemans and a backing band.
  • One sketch features Paul Simon and Charles Grodin attempting to sing "The Sound of Silence", with Grodin wearing an Art Garfunkel wig. After several aborted starts (with Grodin singing off-key and forgetting the lyrics), Simon walks off the stage. Grodin then proceeds to sing a verse of "Bridge Over Troubled Water", after which the real Art Garfunkel walks on stage and asked Grodin to take off the wig.
  • Roseanne Roseannadanna made her debut in this episode's "Hire the Incompetent" sketch.
515Ray CharlesRay CharlesNovember 12, 1977 (1977-11-12)

  • Comedian Franklyn Ajaye and Buck Henry made guest appearances.
  • Ray Charles led the band, cast, and crew in a jam during the closing credits.
  • Charles performed "I Can See Clearly Now," "What'd I Say," "Oh! What a Beautiful Mornin'" and a medley of "I Got a Woman," "I Believe to My Soul," "Them That Got" and "Hit the Road Jack".
526Buck HenryLeon RedboneNovember 19, 1977 (1977-11-19)

  • Henry uses his monologue to introduce the five finalists in the "Anyone Can Host" contest. The five finalists are then featured sporadically throughout the episode, including an appearance in a film by Gary Weis.
  • In a sketch, John Belushi plays himself as a retired athlete, endorsing "Little Chocolate Donuts," a parody of Bruce Jenner's Wheaties ad. The voice over for the commercial while Belushi is running is done by sportscaster Marv Albert.
  • A film by Tom Schiller was featured.
  • Redbone performed "Champagne Charlie" and "Please Don't Talk about Me When I'm Gone".[4]
537Mary Kay PlaceWillie NelsonDecember 10, 1977 (1977-12-10)

548Miskel SpillmanElvis CostelloDecember 17, 1977 (1977-12-17)

  • Miskel Spillman was the winner of SNL's "Anyone Can Host" contest
  • Elvis Costello performed "Watching the Detectives"[4] and was scheduled to perform "Less Than Zero" but halted his band the Attractions seven seconds into the song, launching into "Radio Radio",[4] an as-yet unreleased song critical of mainstream broadcasting
  • Al Franken's parents, Joseph and Phoebe Franken, appear in the "Franken & Davis Show" sketch
  • Emily Litella makes her final regular appearance as Weekend Updates' consumer affairs correspondent
  • The Sex Pistols were originally scheduled to perform as announced by Don Pardo on the December 10, 1977 show during the closing credits.
559Steve MartinRandy Newman, The Nitty Gritty Dirt BandJanuary 21, 1978 (1978-01-21)

  • Steve Martin references that a snowstorm the day before caused limited rehearsals.
  • Roseanne Roseannadanna makes her Weekend Update debut in this episode replacing Emily Litella as consumer affairs correspondent.
  • Randy Newman performed "Short People" and "Rider in the Rain".[4] Members of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band perform backing vocals during "Short People". The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, in turn, performed "On the Loose with the Blues" and "White Russia".[4] (Martin, longtime friends with the band, accompanied them on banjo for the latter song.)
5610Robert KleinBonnie RaittJanuary 28, 1978 (1978-01-28)

  • The cold open features Paul Shaffer as Don Kirshner and Mr. Mike.
  • Bill Murray's "Nick Winters" lounge singer performs "Star Wars, nothing but Star Wars...";
  • Shaffer appears as Nick the Lounge Singer's pianist
  • First appearance of the Olympia cafe sketch.[5] The word "cheeseburger" was said 80 times during this sketch.[6]
  • First appearance of The Nerds sketch[7]
  • Because of the recent crash of the highly radioactive Soviet spy satellite Cosmos 954 in northern Canada, this episode made continuing reference to giant mutant lobsters reportedly heading for NYC, climaxing with them invading the studio during the show's ending credits
  • Raitt performed "Give It Up or Let Me Go" and "Runaway".[4] Klein joined Raitt on harmonica on the former song.
5711Chevy ChaseBilly JoelFebruary 18, 1978 (1978-02-18)

5812O. J. SimpsonAshford and SimpsonFebruary 25, 1978 (1978-02-25)

  • Every cast member, as well as Don Novello and O.J. Simpson, are featured in Samurai Night Fever, a parody of Saturday Night Fever. John Belushi dances to The Bee Gees' Stayin' Alive.
  • Ashford and Simpson performed "Don't Cost You Nothing" and "So, So Satisfied".[4]
5913Art GarfunkelStephen BishopMarch 11, 1978 (1978-03-11)

  • This episode features the short film, Don't Look Back in Anger, in which an aged John Belushi visits the graves of the "Not Ready for Primetime Players" cast and claims that he's the last living member (The sketch is now seen as ironic due to Belushi being the first of the original cast to die.)
  • Andy Kaufman made a guest appearance.
  • Bishop performed "On and On", and Garfunkel performed "Crying in My Sleep" and a medley of "All I Know"/"Scarborough Fair".[4]
6014Jill ClayburghEddie MoneyMarch 18, 1978 (1978-03-18)

6115Christopher LeeMeat LoafMarch 25, 1978 (1978-03-25)

6216Michael PalinEugene RecordApril 8, 1978 (1978-04-08)

  • In the opening monologue, Michael Palin plays Palin's manager, who ends up stuffing live cats down his trousers; one of the cats defecates freely all over his arm. Palin, with only a one-minute costume change afterward, performed the RC Priest and Very Famous Man (Trunk Escape) sketches with feces still on his clothes.[8]
  • Record performed "Have You Seen Her?" and "Trying to Get to You".[4]
6317Michael SarrazinKeith JarrettApril 15, 1978 (1978-04-15)

  • This episode features a short black and white film, La Dolce Gilda.
  • Jarrett performed two instrumentals.[4] Gravity appeared and also performed an instrumental.[4]
6418Steve MartinThe Blues BrothersApril 22, 1978 (1978-04-22)

  • The cold opening features Paul Shaffer as Don Kirshner, introducing The Blues Brothers singing "Hey Bartender".
  • Sketches include the Czech brothers, "Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber,"[9] a Martin and Radner dance sketch, a performance of "King Tut,"[10] a Gary Weis film with ballet dancers and breakdancers, and "Nerds at the Science Fair".
  • The Blues Brothers perform "I Don't Know".[4]
  • This episode was nominated for an Emmy and was later selected as TV Guide's #12 Top Episode of all time.[11]
6519Richard DreyfussJimmy Buffett, Gary TigermanMay 13, 1978 (1978-05-13)

  • Father Guido Sarducci (Don Novello) made a guest appearance
  • Paul Shaffer appeared as lounge singer Nick Winter's piano player and as Dreyfuss' piano player, as Dreyfuss sings "Seduced" by Gary Tigerman
  • John Belushi joins Dreyfuss on stage and as part of his monologue, attempts to help Dreyfuss with the lines of his Shakespeare soliloquy (suggesting that he use his cue cards since he's not used to being on television) and then angrily mocks and argues with him, saying he didn't deserve the Oscar he received that year over actor Richard Burton
  • Twice in the episode, Dreyfuss hears the Jaws theme
  • During the closing credits, Dreyfuss is attacked by the Land Shark
  • Buffett performed "Son of a Son of a Sailor" and Tigerman performed "White Oaxacan Moon".[4]
6620Buck HenrySun RaMay 20, 1978 (1978-05-20)

  • Sun Ra performed "Space Is the Place" and "Space-Loneliness".[4]

DVD release[edit]

Season 3 was released on DVD May 13, 2008 [12]


  1. ^ Larry David Smith (30 Apr 2004). Elvis Costello, Joni Mitchell, and the Torch Song Tradition. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 139.
  2. ^ Tom Shales & James Andrew Miller (19 January 2014). Live from New York An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live. Little, Brown, and Company.
  3. ^ Saturday Night Live: The First Twenty Years. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 1994. pp. 104–105. ISBN 0-395-70895-8.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Saturday Night Live: The First Twenty Years. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 1994. pp. 124–127. ISBN 0-395-70895-8.
  5. ^ Saturday Night Live: The First Twenty Years. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 1994. pp. 106–108. ISBN 0-395-70895-8.
  6. ^ Saturday Night Live: The First Twenty Years. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 1994. p. 264. ISBN 0-395-70895-8.
  7. ^ Saturday Night Live: The First Twenty Years. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 1994. pp. 110–113. ISBN 0-395-70895-8.
  8. ^ Palin, Michael (2007). Diaries 1969-1979: The Python Years. St. Martin's Press. pp. 460–1. ISBN 0-312-36935-2.
  9. ^ Saturday Night Live: The First Twenty Years. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 1994. pp. 96–97. ISBN 0-395-70895-8.
  10. ^ Saturday Night Live: The First Twenty Years. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 1994. p. 118. ISBN 0-395-70895-8.
  11. ^ "TV's Top 100 Episodes of All Time: #20-11". TV Guide Magazine. June 18, 2009. Archived from the original on March 14, 2010.
  12. ^ Saturday Night Live: Season 3, 1977-1978 (DVD). Universal Studios. May 13, 2008.