Gilbert Gottfried Shares How It Was like to Be the ‘Replacement’ Cast of SNL
Earlier in November, actor Gilbert Gottfried appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience and talked about the time he worked in Saturday Night Live as a replacement cast member.
By the time Gottfried joined the sketch comedy show for season 6 in 1981, all the original cast members, including the show's pioneer Lorne Michaels had left.
Gilbert Gottfried on Joining 'SNL'
During the chat, Gottfried talked in-depth and shared his experience of being on SNL. According to the actor, he was asked to join the cast as a replacement artist while the show was being overhauled.
The main reason for the overhauling was Lorne Michaels' departure from SNL. Michaels is the original creator and producer of the comedy show.
Gottfried remarked his time on the show to be "horrible" because the season he joined the show, Michaels had left, and the original cast members were gone as well.
While all this was ongoing in 1981, the show's loyal fan base hated the idea of a reboot.
Per Gottfried, the concept of running the comedy show with different cast members just wasn't going to work.
He compared the current practice of SNL, where the "cast changes every five minutes," to his time when "it was like no."
In his illustration, the actor addressed the show's popularity and drew comparisons with other popular artists and television shows.
He iterated a hypothetical example and said how replacing the original members of the popular rock band The Beatles "in the middle of Beatlemania," or rebooting popular sitcom Friends during its popular years with an entirely new cast would be sacrilegious .
Gottfried called his then co-stars "the second cast," as all the "original people were gone." Talking about his involvement with the show as a replacement artist, the actor noted,
You don't want to be the replacement. You want to be the replacement of the replacement because then you give one guy that sacrificial lamb that they throw onto the fire, and then next it's like, 'oh well, it's better than the other guy.'
Gilbert Gottfried's Experience with 'SNL'
During his conversation with Joe Rogan, Gilbert recalled the time he was auditioning for SNL. Gottfried said that he had many auditions going on at the time, with some taking place at a comedy club and the others in offices.
While he was in line for his audition, Gottfried noticed how people, who had already gone through the audition process, made remarks about how the showrunners were "hateful of everybody who was against them."
The actor also shared that he never took auditioning for the show as something important.
Talking about his time on the show, Gottfried said he would arrive on set and do his "bits and everything," without feeling like a star as "everyone was torn to shreds in the press," regardless of their work.
Gottfried also revealed how he "did not like the writers," and in exchange, "the writers hated me."
Their aversion took a height when for one particular episode, the writers wrote a funeral sketch where "I was the dead body," and "had to lie there in the coffin," with no further part to play. According to the actor's recollection, he did not "have a great time there at all."
Gottfried was Fired from 'SNL' Without His Knowledge
While Gottfried recalled events from his past, Rogan was listening to him with rapt attention. Finally, towards the end of the interview, the actor opened up about when he realized that he had been fired from SNL.
The actor recalled the day when the news of him being fired from the show came to his attention. In his recounts, Gottfried said,
"They had fired the producer and Dick Ebersol came in. [I was] killing time and I see a girl writes a fan letter to me from like Omaha or whatever. And I opened it up before I get in the office and it starts off, 'Dear Gilbert, I am so sorry about what happened to you.' So, I found out from a fan letter from some 15-year-old girl. I don't know but she knew more than me."