The Real Reason Why These Stars Left SNL


These days, Harry Shearer is best known for providing the voices of Mr. Burns, Principal Skinner, and numerous other characters on The Simpsons. He also holds the rare distinction of quitting Saturday Night Live not once, but twice. Hired as a writer-performer for the 1979-’80 season, Shearer wound up quitting shortly after he was hired. “Living hell,” he later told IGN of his time on the show.

However, Shearer returned to SNL five years later, during the 1984-’85 season. When asked why he would return given his previous experience, the comedian-actor explained that he and his This Is Spinal Tap co-stars, Michael McKean and Christopher Guest, had performed on the show as their fictional rock alter-egos, and were treated so well he felt things had changed. That feeling proved to be short-lived. “I was pretty f**king miserable for virtually the the entire season,” Shearer admitted in an interview for SNL oral history Live From New York

When he finally quit, SNL’s then-producer Dick Ebersol put out a press release announcing Shearer had parted ways with the show due to “creative differences.” In the book, Shearer declared that when a reporter called asking for comment, he’d quipped, “Yeah, I was creative and they were different.”

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