What It’s Like to Audition for Saturday Night Live

At the New York Times, 22 cast members (and Marc Maron, who almost made it) look back at their SNL auditions, starting from the beginning:

MOLLY SHANNON I heard that Lorne Michaels was looking at tapes. I used my waitressing money and made a tape of my characters. I was on a pay phone across from an El Pollo Loco, and I found out that he had passed on it. I was crying. I was devastated.

TRACY MORGAN I was married, I had three sons, and I was on welfare. I didn’t want that no more. I knew that if I got “Saturday Night Live,” it would change me and my family’s lives forever.

Their characters:

CHRIS PARNELL I did this Southern preacher, who, it comes out through his sermon, is sexually obsessed and really inappropriate.

FRED ARMISEN Fericito, the Latin timbales-playing Tito Puente guy, was the majority of my audition. I did Sam Waterston from “Law & Order” and Vin Diesel.

HADER My audition was me as Vinny Vedecci, doing Al Pacino talking to his maid staff. Tony Blair talking about the new “Star Wars” movie in Parliament. James Mason with an expired gift certificate for a dozen doughnuts.

And what they did after they were hired:

FERRELL … I stood up real quick, and I’m like: “Well, gosh, thank you. I just want to shake your hand.” And he said, “Do whatever you have to do.”

OTERI I waited for [Mr. Ferrell] outside, and we said nothing to each other. We held each other’s hands and walked to the parking lot and then jumped and let out the biggest scream in the world. We stopped at a restaurant and called our dads.

The piece is stuffed full of amazing details, and it’s a quit-your-day-job delight.

[New York Times]