7 Things We Need to Know About the ‘SNL’ 40th Anniversary Special

By  · Published on April 21st, 2014


In a stirring reminder that we are all very, very old, Saturday Night Live will celebrate its fortieth anniversary early next year. To honor that big milestone, the venerable NBC sketch comedy show will launch a star-studded anniversary special, packed with talents and memories and stardust and dreams. And, also, probably a few goofs and bobbles and big surprises.

Variety reports that the special will arrive next February, and despite some scant details, we still know a bit about the form and shape of the special. We also don’t know a whole bunch about the special, but we think we might be able to parse some answers to our biggest questions from both past anniversary specials, the Variety report, and a little something called an official press release.

When will the special hit the air?

Hey, we know this one! The special will arrive on Sunday, February 15, 2015. It will air from 8PM until 11PM, and yes, that sounds like a whole mess of time.

Will it be live?

Yes! Which sounds daunting as all get-out.

Who will be coming back?

That we don’t know – and SNL probably doesn’t know either. Variety shares that “past and present cast members, as well as special and musical guests from the show’s run, will appear on the telecast, with the specific lineup of guests to be determined in the coming months.” That sure sounds like we can expect to see a lot of people flooding our screens to celebrate SNL, which is a good way to both take a little pressure off of those appearing (plenty of people to pick from!) and add even more tension to the production (can you imagine wrangling all these people?).

However, the official press release on the matter does go out of its way to name some of the most well-known talent to emerge from the show, including Eddie Murphy, Billy Crystal, Dana Carvey, Mike Myers, Will Ferrell, and Adam Sandler, to Kristen Wiig, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Jimmy Fallon,and Seth Meyers.” It’s also telling that the official NBC release leads off with Murphy’s name, because as Variety reminds us, “Murphy, who is one of the program’s most successful alumni, has never appeared on one of several specials that NBC has aired over the years to celebrate the show’s longevity. Nor has he returned to the program in the way that other cast members like Tina Fey, Will Ferrell or Dan Aykroyd have.” Is this an olive branch?

Will the current cast members participate?

Yes, as the show will reportedly include both past and present cast members.

Will there be a dedicated host?

Probably not, as previous specials (including one celebrating fifteen years and one commemorating twenty-five years) never had dedicated “hosts.” That doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea, especially with all that talent running around backstage, it sure seems like having someone to root the broadcast (especially a three-hour one) could be a welcome change. Tina and Amy, are you busy?

How will this infringe on the regular season?

Saturday Night Live typically takes a holiday break in the weeks between Christmas and New Years, returning around mid-January, with a fresh run of shows that can carry it all the way into March. February usually has two or three new episodes, but we’re betting that will not be the case next season. We’d expect to see a pair of new episodes in January, just to keep momentum going, but February will most likely be totally dedicated to this new special.

Can we expect to see beloved sketches recreated?

Most definitely, as that’s been the case with previous anniversary specials. Sure, some of these might be a little longer in the tooth than we’d like, but we can’t say we’d object to seeing a middle-aged spin on Wayne’s World.