8 Former "SNL" Cast Members Who Loved Their Time On The Show And 10 Who Did NOT

·12 min read

1.Loved it: Kate McKinnon — "Looking back on my decade at SNL, it was the greatest thing ever."

Kate McKinnon in a skit

Fresh off the news that last season would be her final, McKinnon talked with Vulture about her 11 seasons on the show. "I hate change, and I hate goodbyes, and I love those people. … It was really hard, and I really am not good at saying goodbye to stuff," she said before adding, "Looking back on my decade at SNL, it was the greatest thing ever." And when asked what's next for her, she said, "I know that I will forever miss it, and especially the people. ... But I’m also excited to join new families and explore other parts of myself."

NBC, Evans Vestal Ward / NBC via Getty Images

2.Hated it: Janeane Garofalo — “The most miserable experience of my life.”

Janeane Garofalo doing a skit

Garofalo was a one-and-done performer on the show from 1994-1995 and told New York Magazine that it was, “the most miserable experience of my life.” Describing the work environment in the book Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, she said there was a "tangible, almost palpable — perhaps the word is 'visceral' — feeling of bad karma when you [walked] into the writers room," adding, “The prevailing comedy tastes were certainly none that I could support. I did not think we were doing a quality show, and if you mentioned that, you found you were an extremely unwelcome guest.”

NBC, Donna Ward / Getty Images

3.Loved it: Pete Davidson — "SNL is my home."

Pete Davidson in a skit

In a post on SNL writer Dave Sirus's Instagram, Davidson reflected on his impressive eight seasons on the show, saying, "I owe Lorne Michaels and everyone at SNL my life. I'm so grateful, and I wouldn't be here without them. I appreciate you guys always having my back and sticking up for me even when that wasn't the popular opinion." He goes on to say, "Thank you for always believing in me and sticking by my side even when it seemed comical. Thank you for teaching me life values, how to grow up and for giving me memories that will last a lifetime. SNL is my home."

NBC, Paul Morigi / Getty Images

4.Hated it: Sasheer Zamata — "It was not what I thought it was going to be."

Sasheer Zamata in a skit

Zamata had a decent run on the show, spending four seasons as a cast member from 2014-2017, but it was not everything she dreamed it would be. During a 2019 panel put on by the Cut, titled "How I Get It Done," Zamata opened up about her experience at the show. “It was not what I thought it was going to be, and I don’t think anyone really thinks it’s going to be that way because it’s not like any other job." She goes on that it took “...a couple years of figuring out, ‘Am I OK with this?’ Do I want to just accept it as is and be like, ‘That’s just a job, and I guess I’ll just stay and take it like everybody else?’ Or, do I want to try something else that makes me feel really good and work with people who excite me and who are excited about me and want to create things that make us feel fulfilled?”

NBC, Future Publishing / Future Publishing via Getty Images

5.Loved it: Molly Shannon — "This is the greatest job in show business!"

Mary Catherine

One of SNL's best, Shannon was on the show for seven seasons, from 1995-2001. In an interview with Variety earlier this year, she said, "Getting on the show far exceeded my expectations for life. ... I didn’t think I would ever get on SNL. So, when I finally got there, I was like, 'Oh my god, this is crazy.' ... I could stop right there and been so happy and fulfilled." And talking to USA Today about whether she saw the show as a means to bigger and better things, she said, "'A steppingstone?' I never saw it that way. I thought, 'This is the greatest job in show business!'"

NBC, Filmmagic / FilmMagic for HBO

6.Hated it: Jenny Slate — "I just didn't belong there."

Jenny Slate in a skit

Slate was a one-and-done cast member, appearing on season 35 from 2009-2010. Rumors circulated that she was fired because she dropped an F-bomb on live TV (quite the no-no), but she addressed that story in a 2019 interview with InStyle. "Everyone always thinks I got fired for saying fuck: I didn't, that's not why I got fired. I just didn't belong there." She continues, "I didn't do a good job, I didn't click. I have no idea how Lorne felt about me. All I know is, it didn't work for me, and I got fired."

NBC, Dominik Bindl / Getty Images

7.Loved it: Tim Meadows — "It was the most fun writing-and-performing experience I think I’ve had."

The Ladies Man

Meadows' tenure at Saturday Night Live lasted 10 seasons, and in an interview with the Daily Beast, he recounted what it was like to be on the show in its '90s heyday. "During that period, a lot of us had chemistry. ... There was a camaraderie, and then, once we all got to know each other after two or three seasons, we hung out with each other all the time outside of the shows and really did become best friends — and we’re still friends now." He went on to say that "it was the most fun writing-and-performing experience I think I’ve had."

NBC, Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images for New York Magazine

8.Hated it: Nora Dunn — "SNL is a traumatic experience."

Nora Dunn in a skit

Dunn described the vibe of the show as a "dysfunctional family" with a "love/hate relationship" in a 2015 interview with Salon. She added that, "SNL is a traumatic experience. ... It’s kind of something you have to survive." Having been on the show for five seasons (1985-1990), she went on to describe how things came to a close for her. "That last year I was on the show. I thought, I can’t write another sketch, I really did not want to be in another sketch. I just wanted to be on a show where somebody hands me a script."

NBC, Paul Archuleta / Getty Images for Film Independent

9.Loved it: Vanessa Bayer — "It’s such a great job to get you ready for the rest of your career."

Vanessa Bayer in a skit

Bayer spent seven seasons on SNL between the years 2010 and 2017. In a recent interview with Uproxx about her new show I Love That for You (also starring SNL alum Molly Shannon), she said she "got so much out of that job," and that "it’s such a great job to get you ready for the rest of your career." Describing how it informed other jobs that came after it, she said, "It’s so funny because when I was doing [I Love That For You], they’d be like, ‘Is it okay if we call you in early?’ And I’d be like, ‘Yeah, when I was on SNL, no one even asked me.’ So, it just prepares you. It’s just good to learn that early that, like, just don’t take yourself so seriously because everybody’s working hard."

NBC, Evans Vestal Ward / NBC via Getty Images

10.Hated it: Jay Pharoah — "They put people into boxes. Whatever they want you to do, they expect you to do."

Jay Pharoah

On the show for an impressive six-season run (2010-2016), Pharoah talked about his experience in an interview with Hot 97’s Ebro In The Morning, saying he had "...multiple people on the cast saying things like, ‘you’re so talented, you’re so able, they don’t use you and it’s unfair and it’s making us feel bad.'” He continued, “They put people into boxes. Whatever they want you to do, they expect you to do. I’m a little fiery, too. … I’m not a yes n***a.”

NBC, Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images for Crunchyroll

11.Hated it: Michaela Watkins — "I feel like it was a marathon, but the week I got there, they cut my Achilles.”

Michaela Watkins in a skit

Featured in the show for just the 2008-2009 season, Watkins recounted her time on the show to the Daily Beast’s The Last Laugh podcast. “It does play out rather coolly, if I’m being honest. Everybody was presented with contracts except for two people. It is a little rude.” She then explained that even in the beginning, she never felt set up for success. “I feel like it was a marathon, but the week I got there, they cut my Achilles. They’re like, okay, start running. I don’t feel like I came in into a soft landing at all.” But it wasn't all for nothing, because the actor noted that “it was a real humbling moment that I think personally was a huge growth for me. It forced me to sit with a lot of uncomfortable feelings and sadness and rejection and think about how I wanted to shape my life going forward.”

NBC, Phillip Faraone / WireImage

12.Loved it: Kristen Wiig — "I wanted to be on the show. It was really hard for me to leave even when I did."

Kristen Wiig in a skit

Easily one of the most famous people to come out of SNL, Wiig spent seven seasons on the show, and in the book Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, she said that was always the plan. "Honestly, it never crossed my mind to leave the show early. For so many reasons...to me, it wasn’t like, 'I’m going to be on this show, and then better things are going to come.' I wanted to be on the show. It was really hard for me to leave even when I did, and just because Bridesmaids made a lot of money didn’t affect how I felt being on the show or change my life in that way. I had known pretty much from the beginning that I was going to do seven years, and that would be it."

She revealed that leaving the show was "really, really, really difficult" and that "it’s hard for people in the outside world to understand...because it really is your family. Even the hosts come in, and after just spending one week with us, it’s like we’re friends, and we know each other, and we go through this crazy experience, and that’s just one week. So, you do that 22 times a season for seven years — it becomes your life, and when you leave, it’s very, very strange."

NBC, Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

13.Hated it: Jay Mohr — "I wasn’t enjoying it, even when it was going well.”

Jay Mohr in a skit

Starring in just two seasons of the show from 1993-1995, Mohr was pretty open about not having a great time, saying, "I wasn’t enjoying it, even when it was going well. I watched Nirvana perform, I talked to Kurt Cobain, I talked to (Eric) Clapton, I got to work with (Chris) Farley every day. But I was so self-obsessed with survival — survival on the show and then mental health survival and back to survival on the show — I certainly didn’t take time to smell the roses.”

And when asked about the dynamic with his costars, he said, "The cycle of asshole would start with (Rob) Schneider chiding me as a rookie in front of everyone and then proceeding to treat me like garbage for two weeks straight."

NBC, Rich Fury / Getty Images

14.Loved it: Aidy Bryant — "I am leaving with so much love."

Aidy Bryant in a skit

Bryant was on the show for 10 seasons! Damn. And speaking with Variety about her departure from the show, she said, "I am leaving with so much love. ... It was a lot of hugging and people being like, 'No, but seriously. I love you so much.' Very end-of-summer-camp vibe. Sign-my-yearbook energy." In an instagram post after her final show, she shared a heartfelt message, writing, "The cast and writers that I got to work with over the years made me laugh harder than I knew was possible. I love you, and thank you from my whole heart."

NBC, Roy Rochlin / Getty Images for Tribeca Festival

15.Hated it: Harry Shearer — "It was about as far from pleasant as you can possibly get."

Harry Shearer in a skit

On the show for two seasons, from 1979-1980, and then again from 1984-1985, Shearer described his time there to IGN as a "living hell." And when asked what exactly made it a living hell, he responded, "The way it was organized...the way people were treated...the approach to the material..." Summarizing his experience, he said, "It was about as far from pleasant as you can possibly get. It was extremely challenging."

NBC, Jo Hale / Redferns

16.Hated it: Casey Wilson — "I began taking antidepressants to lift myself up from rock bottom."

Casey Wilson in a skit

Wilson was on the show for two seasons from 2008-2009, and in her book, The Wreckage of My Presence, she wrote an essay talking about her experience on the show. "In the year and a half of utter madness I was there, I began taking antidepressants to lift myself up from rock bottom. ... When I was not asked back for what would have been my third season, I felt a rush of relief and utter disappointment in myself. I had the chance, and I didn’t take my shot. But I never cried. The relief outweighed the regret. I’ve made peace with most of my regrets, including being let go from Saturday Night Live."

NBC, Rodin Eckenroth / Getty Images

17.Loved it: Fred Armisen — "That is something I really will always miss, and I just yearn for it."

Fred Armisen in a skit

On the show for 11 seasons, Armisen spoke quite fondly about the show in a 2017 interview with Vulture. “You write until 6 and 7 in the morning, all night, and you just look like a mess, and your hair is greasy, but you’re there, and the sun’s coming up, and you’re in front of this computer writing and laughing really hard. And that is something that I really will always miss, and I just yearn for it, as far as Saturday Night Live.” And speaking about his final sketch where he played punk rocker Ian Rubbish, he called it “a love letter to all the music I grew up with, and also to my friends and to SNL and to Lorne [Michaels] and to the cast.”

NBC, Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

18.Hated it: Chris Elliott — "It was just such a miserable experience..."

Chris Elliott in a sketch

On the show for just one season from 1994-1995, Elliott had less than stellar things to say about his time there, stating, "I seriously have no memory of it. And I think it was just such a miserable experience that I have sort of blacked out a lot of these things. That whole year, I was just embarrassed."

NBC, Mark Sagliocco / FilmMagic