It seems inconceivable, but there was actually a time when you could come home late on a Saturday night and not have "Saturday Night Live" to look forward to. But that all changed on this day in 1975, when "Saturday Night Live" first took to the airwaves. Conceived by Toronto-based comedy writer Lorne Michaels, the show (originally called simply "Saturday Night" during its first two seasons) served not only as an outlet for a fresh, edgy new form of comedy but also provided the launchpad for some of the greatest comedic minds in the history of film and television, from early breakout stars (Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, John Belushi) to mid-period icons (Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock) to the more modern day success stories (Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jimmy Fallon).
On that first Saturday in 1975, the show established the format that it still holds to: A cold open (in the case of the first episode, it was a fantastically surreal and extremely brief sketch about an extremely strange English lesson), followed by the opening credits (the first show featured the first nine members of the original "Not Ready for Prime Time Players," misidentified during by announcer Don Pardo as the "Not For Ready Prime Time Players") and a monologue by the show's weekly guest star (comedy legend George Carlin took on hosting duties first, delivering a prolonged bit about the differences between baseball and football). The show also featured a short film by Albert Brooks, a drop-in from the Muppets, an appearance by Andy Kaufman and musical guests Janis Ian and Billy Preston. (Carlin also came back for two stand-up bits later on in the show.)
While the opening season of "Saturday Night Live" is pretty spotty, the first episode holds up pretty well. Though there aren't any necessarily legendary sketches, a lot of the stuff (like the ultra-dark fake commercial for "New Dad Insurance" and the truly weird "Bee Hospital") still gets laughs — and more importantly, still seems fresh and cutting edge. Thing what you will about the current state of the show (which, admittedly, is not great), but the show remains vital and important. In honor of that first crazy Saturday, check out Fall Out Boy's "Saturday."