On October 11, 1975, NBC’s Saturday Night Live made its television debut. The show was created by Lorne Michaels under the original name of NBC’s Saturday Night. It quickly evolved into a staple of American television, and is one of the longest-running shows to date.
A comedian knows they have made it once they get to 30 Rock. Saturday Night Live has created the biggest stars in film and television including Adam Sandler, Robert Downey Jr., Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and many more. SNL may have launched the careers of its cast members into national stardom, but the Village is where many of them first got their start and continue to call their home.
Upright Citizens Brigade
The Upright Citizens Brigade is an improvisational and sketch comedy group that has helped create many of today’s top talent in the comedic industry. Amy Poehler, Adam McKay, & Horatio Sanz were founding members of UCB and all went on to continue their comedic careers with Saturday Night Live. Other SNL alumni that were trained by UCB include Kate McKinnon, Jenny Slate, Casey Wilson, & Sasheer Zamata. Saturday Night Live has a long history of seeking talent from UCB and continues to have strong ties with the organization.
In 2011, UCB opened a second New York City theater and bar space in the East Village, UCB East, which ran smaller-scale shows for $10 or less. The UCB East permanently closed on February 9, 2019. The comedy group still has ties to the Village by offering three nights of programming per week in the nearby SubCulture theatre on Bleecker Street. You can check out their list of programming here.
The Comedy Cellar
Since 1982, The Comedy Cellar has been the testing ground for some of the world’s leading comics. Several iconic SNL comics tested the comedic waters here including Chris Rock, Darrell Hammond, & Colin Quinn. Many credit Estee Adoram for The Comedy Cellar’s success. She has been booking talent for the Cellar since 1984. As the Comedy Cellar’s gatekeeper, her reputation in the field of comedy is unmatched. Adoram’s motherly aura and friendly nature keep the comedians she cultivates coming back years after they have made it in the industry. The New York Posts has regularly rated the Comedy Cellar as the best comedy club in New York City.
The family-owned business was honored as one of Village Preservation’s 2018 Village Awardees. The establishment is also located within the South Village Historic District. Learn more about our work to protect the South Village here. The Comedy Cellar is hosting A Comedy Cellar Night, Benefiting Village Preservation on Thursday, December 5, 2019 at 6:00pm. Click here to get your ticket!
Alec Baldwin holds the record for hosting the most SNL episodes. He happens to also be a longtime Greenwich Village resident. Baldwin remains an active part of our community here. He took part in a panel discussion at Judson Memorial Church with Village Preservation in June which explored issues facing Greenwich Village, mainly focusing on gentrification.
Rachel Dratch is among the many SNL cast members who have called the Village their home. Dratch moved to the East Village from the Upper West Side after having her son. She was drawn to the East Village as she found it more roomy and affordable than other places in New York. Some of her go-to places to visit are Pylos, Nicoletta, Motorino, & Madman Espresso.
Jane Curtin is a longtime Village resident. She was in the freshman class of SNL as one of the original cast members. Jane was a part of our book release for Greenwich Village Stories. Greenwich Village Stories is a love letter to Greenwich Village written by artists, poets, playwrights, musicians, restaurateurs, and other neighborhood habitués who each share a favorite memory of this beloved place. Curtin, alongside fellow Village resident Parker Posey, read excerpts of the book as part of the Selected Shorts series at Symphony Space. You can buy your own copy of Greenwich Village Stories here.
The late John Belushi was also apart of the freshman class of SNL. In 1978, Belushi was leading the entertainment industry with the No. 1 movie with “Animal House,” the No. 1 record “Briefcase Full of Blues,” and was a star on TV’s hottest show. Sadly, we lost Belushi’s comedy to substance abuse. Belushi lived at 64 Morton Street in the West Village at the time of his passing in 1982. 64 Morton has been right next door to many of the houses featured on our Spring House Tour Benefit. Check out pictures from last year’s tour here.