Saturday Night Live (season 23)

Saturday Night Live (season 23)
Saturday Night Live Season 23
The Saturday Night Live title card as seen in the opening credits of the 23rd season.
Country of origin  United States
No. of episodes 20
Original channel NBC
Original run September 27, 1997 – May 9, 1998
Season chronology
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Saturday Night Live aired its twenty-third season during the 1997–98 television season on NBC. The twenty-third season started September 27, 1997 and ended on May 9, 1998, with 20 episodes being produced. A few changes happened before the start of the season, Mark McKinney left the show while Fred Wolf left in the start of the twenty-second season. This season was also notable for not having any featured players or any new cast members. This season was also the only season to have an opening sequence that didn't show any shots of New York City.

This season was notable for the controversy surrounding Weekend Update. Then current anchor Norm Macdonald angered NBC executive Don Ohlmeyer. Macdonald often told O. J. Simpson jokes in the Update segment which upset Ohlmeyer, who was good friends with Simpson and did not find the jokes funny. Ohlmeyer then fired Macdonald from the segment, but not from the show, since Ohlmeyer thought he did better in sketches than on Update. His final Update was in the episode hosted by Helen Hunt. Quinn was then promoted to the job and began anchoring the segment in the episode hosted by Samuel L. Jackson. Even though Macdonald still performed in sketches, he was not happy and his stay on the show was short-lived. He ended up quitting the show a few months after getting demoted from Weekend Update. His final show was in the show hosted by Julianne Moore.

This season saw the deaths of two former cast members. Six weeks after coming back to host, Chris Farley became the fifth SNL cast member to die prematurely. Much like his idol, John Belushi, Farley died of a drug overdose at aged 33 consisting of cocaine and heroin. Two weeks after the season finale, long-time performer Phil Hartman was killed by his wife who later shot herself.



Repertory players
Featured players


bold denotes Weekend Update anchor


Tina Fey joins the writing staff in this season. Jim Downey leaves the show after Norm Macdonald was taken off Weekend Update (Since Downey co-wrote Update with Macdonald).


Special Original airdate Notes
SNL Halloween '97 November 1, 1997
SNL Sports Extra '98 January ?, 1998
  • A clip show featuring material from previous shows.
Best of the New Season '97-'98 January 31, 1998
  • A clip show featuring some of the best material from the first half of the '97-'98 season.
  • Some of the sketches shown were "Well Babies Tragedy", "Cookie Dough Sport", "The View", "The Ladies' Man", "The Ambiguously Gay Duo".
SNL Remembers Chris Farley February 21, 1998
  • The special featured some of the best material featuring the late Chris Farley during his stint on the show.
  • The title of the special was called SNL Remembers when it first aired on television. However, it would be renamed and packaged for sale as The Best of Chris Farley.
  • Sketches included: "Chippendales Auditions," "Superfans," "The Chris Farley Show," "Bobby Watches Grandma," "Schmitts Gay," "Focus On Beauty II," "Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker," "Giuliani's Inauguration," "Tater Junction," "Lunchlady Land", "Lillehammer", "Clinton Auditions," "Good Morning Brooklyn," "Japanese Game Show," "Juggernaut Force," "Zagat's," and "Hidden Camera Commercials."
SNL Remembers Phil Hartman June 13, 1998
  • The special featured some of the best material featuring the late Phil Hartman during his stint on the show.
  • The title of the special was called SNL Remembers when it first aired on television. However, it would be renamed and packaged for sale as The Best of Phil Hartman.
  • Sketches included: "Donahue," "The Crosby Show," "Star Trek Convention," "Discover," "On Broadway," "Church Chat," "Cumpulsion," "Anne Boleyn," "Succinctly Speaking," "All-Drug Olympics," "Nicknames," "Win, Lose, or Tie," "Love is a Dream (film)," "Nancy Reagan Visits," "Robot Repair," "Cooking with the Anal Retentive Chef," "A Betty Ford Straight Arrow Christmas," "Celebrity Lawyer Court," "Greenhilly," "The Sinatra Group," "Clarence Thomas Hearings," "Campaign '92," "Sprockets," "Dick Clark's Snotty Receptionist," "Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer," "Johnny Carson's Last Episode," "Perot and Stockdale Car Trip," "Clinton at McDonald's," "Sassy's Sassiest Boys," and "Acting Class."
The Best of Eddie Murphy August 22, 1998
  • The special featured some of the best material featuring Eddie Murphy during his stint on the show.
  • Sketches included: "The Little Richard Simmons Show," "Prose and Cons" (film), "Velvet Jones School Of Technology," "Career Corner," "Ebony & Ivory," "Buckwheat Dead," "Stevie Wonder Impersonator," "Rock & Roll... and then some," "Black History Minute," "Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood," "Gumby," "Buckwheat Sings," and "James Brown's Hot Tub Party."


Episode # Air Date Host(s) Musical Guest(s) Remarks
427 (23.1) September 27, 1997 Sylvester Stallone Jamiroquai
  • The initial 1996 Olympics bombing suspect Richard Jewell makes a guest appearance, where, in a highly publicized sketch, he punches Janet Reno (played by Will Ferrell) in the gut, with Reno responding, "Same time next week?". Jewell also appeared alongside Norm Macdonald on Weekend Update.
  • During the original broadcast, the final sketch of the night featuring Will Ferrell as Elton John is cut off by commercials halfway through because of time issues. The Elton John sketch "aired in full a few weeks later, when it was edited into a repeat of an episode hosted by Rob Lowe from the previous season." [1] Also on this episode: fan-favorite sketch starring Sylvester Stallone as the employee of a long-defunct Orange Julius store who now works and lives in the computer store that opened in its place.[2]
  • A similar version of the SNL theme which will be used for Seasons 24 - 25 is heard.

428 (23.2) October 4, 1997 Matthew Perry Oasis
429 (23.3) October 18, 1997 Brendan Fraser Björk
  • This episode marked the first appearance of Mango.
  • A Roxbury Guys sketch was cut after dress rehearsal (though footage from the week's rehearsal was shown on Access Hollywood)
  • Guest appearance by Eric Dickerson
430 (23.4) October 25, 1997 Chris Farley The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
  • Chevy Chase and Chris Rock have cameo appearances in the cold opening and monologue.
  • Chicago news anchor and reporter Bill Kurtis along with George Wendt and Mike Ditka appear in a short film showing the lives of the "Bill Swerski's Superfans" after their run on SNL.
  • This would turn out to be Farley's last-ever appearance on the show.
  • The 60-minute syndicated version edits out the cold opening where Lorne Michaels doesn't want Chris Farley to host, but Tim Meadows and Chevy Chase convince him. Also cut is the monologue where Chris Rock and Tim Meadows stall for time when Farley fails to show up.
  • Throughout the episode, Farley's voice was hoarse, as a result of him having blown it out during the dress rehearsal.
  • The cast and crew were unsure if Farley would be able to perform on Saturday. Chris Rock hung around all week and had prepared a monologue and a few sketches in case Farley was unable to go on.
431 (23.5) November 8, 1997 Jon Lovitz Jane's Addiction
  • Jane's Addiction performs "Jane Says."
  • Former cast member Dana Carvey makes a surprise appearance in this episode.
432 (23.6) November 15, 1997 Claire Danes Mariah Carey
  • Colin Quinn plays Joe Blow during Weekend Update.[3]
433 (23.7) November 22, 1997 Rudy Giuliani Sarah McLachlan
  • Sarah McLachlan performs "Sweet Surrender."
  • The 60-minute rerun version of this episode only shows a minute of the "Freakin' Giuliani" sketch where a cab driver (played by Rudolph Giuliani) complains about the changes in New York thanks to the mayor at the time (Giuliani). The sketch fades to black after the cab driver says, "Freakin' Giuliani!"
434 (23.8) December 6, 1997 Nathan Lane Metallica
  • Metallica performs "Fuel" and "The Memory Remains," the latter of which featured Marianne Faithfull (singing off-key) on additional vocals.
  • Lane's The Lion King co-star, Ernie Sabella, makes a cameo appearance during the monologue, in which both sing a few bars of "Hakuna Matata." In the 60-minute rerun of this episode, the monologue where Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, and Ana Gasteyer go around Studio 8H singing "Hakuna Matata" cuts off after Ernie Sabella's surprise appearance.
  • Guest appearance by the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.
  • Adam Sandler is given an additional sketch writing credit.
435 (23.9) December 13, 1997 Helen Hunt Hanson
436 (23.10) January 10, 1998 Samuel L. Jackson Ben Folds Five
  • Ben Folds Five performs "Brick."
  • Colin Quinn takes over as Weekend Update anchor in this episode. He begins the segment with a bartender analogy which essentially asks the audience to give him a chance.
437 (23.11) January 17, 1998 Sarah Michelle Gellar Portishead
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Seinfeld sketch is not shown in the 60-minute rerun versions, due to issues with the owner of Buffy, 20th Century Fox, and the owner of Seinfeld, Castle Rock Entertainment.
  • Portishead performs "Only You" to a puzzled audience. After the final notes of the performance, a stagehand begins to applaud, sparking a delayed response from the audience.
438 (23.12) February 7, 1998 John Goodman Paula Cole
  • Dan Aykroyd cameos in this episode, reprising two of his popular recurring characters, Elwood Blues from The Blues Brothers (during the monologue) and Irwin Mainway from "Consumer Probe" (in the Judge Judy sketch). He also impersonates Bob Dole in the cold opening.
439 (23.13) February 14, 1998 Roma Downey Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott
  • While not appearing in any sketches and not billed in the opening credits for the past few weeks, soon-to-be-ousted cast member Norm Macdonald surprised Downey and others by rushing onstage to join the cast during the show's good nights.
  • Newt Gingrich was scheduled to host this episode.
440 (23.14) February 28, 1998 Garth Brooks
  • Robert Duvall made a guest appearance in two sketches, one of which is the game show parody "Who's More Grizzled?" where he tells the game show host (played by Norm Macdonald) that he doesn't like him. In a bit of an in-joke, Norm replies, "Yeah, I get that a lot".
441 (23.15) March 7, 1998 Scott Wolf Natalie Imbruglia
442 (23.16) March 14, 1998 Julianne Moore Backstreet Boys
  • All reruns on NBC, Comedy Central, and E! edit out the "Conspiracy Theory Rock" TV Funhouse cartoon. This sketch can now be seen on some video websites and the DVD version of the SNL clip show special "The Best of TV Funhouse".
  • Norm Macdonald makes his final appearance as a cast member in this episode.
  • Backstreet Boys performe Everybody (Backstreet's Back) and As Long as You Love Me.
443 (23.17) April 4, 1998 Steve Buscemi Third Eye Blind
444 (23.18) April 11, 1998 Greg Kinnear All Saints
445 (23.19) May 2, 1998 Matthew Broderick Natalie Merchant
446 (23.20) May 9, 1998 David Duchovny Puff Daddy
  • Guest appearance by John Goodman.
  • Guest appearance by Jimmy Page.
  • Jim Breuer's final episode as a cast member.


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