No matter how old he got, the comedian Jack Benny used to host an annual 39th birthday party for himself.
But for Saturday Night Live, turning 40 was a cause for celebration—especially when more than 23 million people tuned in on Feb. 15, 2015 to watch its marathon of a reunion show.
A peerless cultural force for comedy since 1975, the show has launched the careers of such heavyweights as Tina Fey, Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, Amy Poehler, and Jimmy Fallon. Its also been a rite of passage for guest appearances—including, to name a few, politicians Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Sarah Palin, athletes Michael Jordan, Chris Evert, and Peyton Manning, and musicians Prince, Annie Lennox, and Miles Davis.
But aside from SNL's location—just a few miles up the street at 30 Rockefeller Center (in Studio 8-H)—what does all this have to do with NYU?
A lot, it turns out. Many don’t realize what an impact we’ve had on the NBC institution over the decades. Think you’re an expert? Take our quiz to test your own knowledge of the NYU-SNL connection. (Answers are at the very bottom of the page.)
Match the NYU-affiliated talent with the description below:
1) Billy Crystal (TSOA '70)
2) Molly Shannon (TSOA '87)
3) Adam Sandler (TSOA '88)
4) Andy Samberg (TSOA '00)
5) Sarah Silverman (TSOA non-grad alum)
6) Robert Smigel (WSUC '83)
7) Lenny Pickett (adjunct professor at Steinhardt)
8) Alec Baldwin (TSOA '94)
9) Lorne Michaels (TSOA Dean's Council)
10) Tim Herlihy (STERN '88, LAW '92)
11) Casey Wilson (TSOA '02)
A) When this actress’s schoolgirl character got nervous, she would put her hands under her armpits and smell them! (We know. Eww.)
B) This actor played the vice president of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming for General Electric on 30 Rock and happens to hold the record for most times hosting SNL (16).
C) Playing the talk show host Fernando, this Long Island native told guests “it’s better to look good than to feel good” and usually declared, “You look mahvelous.”
D) Though she was only a cast member for 18 weeks in the 1993-94 season, this actress returned to host the show in October 2014.
E) This “TV Funhouse” creator and SNL scribe would go on to debut Triumph the Insult Comic Dog on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
F) SNL’s musical director since 1995, this self-taught saxophonist has played for the likes of Paul McCartney, David Bowie, and the Talking Heads.
G) This actress spent two seasons on SNL, appearing regularly with Kristen Wiig as one of the Maharelle Sisters on The Lawrence Welk Show.
H) This Toronto native and producer started his career as a writer and broadcaster for CBC Radio.
I) A former SNL writer, this Brooklyn native also penned The Wedding Singer and co-wrote the films Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore.
J) This Berkeley native and current FOX sitcom star once wrapped his, um, anatomy in a box for an SNL short film with Justin Timberlake.
K) This Brooklyn native played Theo Huxtable’s buddy on The Cosby Show before creating SNL characters such as Opera Man, Cajun Man, and Canteen Boy.