Jane Curtin Reflects on Early ‘SNL': ‘Not One Thing Was Funny’
When Jane Curtin, one of Saturday Night Live's original cast members, looked back at her early years on the program, she didn't find herself laughing.
Curtin recently spoke with People about revisiting those early SNL sketches. A few years ago, she explained, she was sent a five-year compilation tape from the program's first five years. One year at Christmas, her husband asked if they could watch one.
"So we sat around the TV, and I had that sort of anticipatory, open-mouth grin that people have when they're waiting for something to happen, that they know is going to be really great," she recalled. "And ... it never happened. It wasn't funny. Not one thing was funny. There was not one utterance of a laugh or a giggle."
Curtin, who was on the show from its 1975 debut through 1980, served as the "Weekend Update" anchor starting in 1976 and was often placed in scenes with Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Gilda Radner. She was also well known for her role in the Conehead sketches as matriarch Prymaat.
But when Curtin watched the tapes, something seemed stale. "I think it was just one of those you had to be there in the moment things," she noted. "That's what happens with live TV and with topical TV. It gets dated after a while. Remember, this was almost 50 years ago. But after we re-watched, I was like, 'That really wasn't a very good show. It was terrible!'"
Watch Jane Curtin on 'Saturday Night Live'
Curtin also recalled how even though she got along with everyone on the set, she struggled with the substance-fueled lifestyle of some of her castmates, like John Belushi, and wanted to focus on her acting.
"I had a life — a dog, a husband, an apartment with a little garden. It was a life I really enjoyed," she said. "John, obviously, he could party with the best of them, but the next day these guys were just so miserable. Plus, the 90 minutes on the show were so exciting and adrenaline-pumping, I felt all the other stuff was self-indulgent and seemed hard.”