Andy's SNL audition (there are longer videos which I think might be worth watching and they have some other auditions) makes sense to someone who came to know Andy's stuff but 1975 was pretty early in his career. I assume he was known to the producers from clubs but the woman speaking sounds like she might be talking to a youngster or frankly someone who has mental problems. There are also laughs but I note while he was a guest host a lot, he was I do not think invited to join the first cast which included John Belushi (who did I thought a weird audition if that is what it was) Dan A. and the rest.

So my question is, do we know what the producers of SNL already knew about him? Why did he choose to do what he did in the audition -- it almost seems like he might not have cared and within a year or so he was IIRC all over the place.

1 Answer 1


This isn't an audition, it's a screen test. The goal is to see how the actor looks when they're under certain conditions such as lighting, filmed with a particular kind of camera or sitting on a specific set. Historically screen tests and sound checks have produced some very odd results, largely because nobody expects them to be seen by the general public.

As you can see from the footage below, other SNL actors are also given very little instruction against the same green screen:

  • Chevy Chase asks if they want him to just sit there or actually do something.

Chevy Chase: "Am I supposed to be doing anything?"

  • Kaufman starts off the same way. He's evidently been told to sit and look at the camera. He asks if he needs to do or say anything and is told to say something when he's cued (and chooses to do a monologue).

Kaufman: Am I supposed to say something? Or wait for a cue?

  • Dan Akroyd offers to do some voices and characters and they tell him they're just checking the lighting, etc etc.

Most of the actors take this test as an open-mic opportunity to practice their accents, pull funny faces and do 'bits' to impress the producers.

You can see a full screen SNL screen test (for Gilda Radner) here.


  • 1
    The first link that you provided says that screen tests actually are a type of audition, i.e. it can be part of the selection process among finalists for a role. But as you mentioned it is focused more on the looks rather than on the acting or speaking ability. Although the article indicates that sometimes some acting can be involved, just normally not with spoken lines. I'm guessing you have seen The Monkees screen tests. Although not given specific things to say or do they were quite comical, I'm pretty sure those screen tests helped seal the deal for the prefab four. Sep 28 at 16:23
  • Often it can be as simple as whether two people look good sitting at the same desk. They looked fine apart, but do they have chemistry?
    – Valorum
    Sep 28 at 18:00
  • I think screen tests are part of the audition process. During the initial SNL casting calls the comics typically perform their own prepared routines (probably the best material from their regular standup or improv acts). This narrows the candidates down to a small number that are called back for screen tests, and this material would be supplied by the casting people.
    – Barmar
    Sep 29 at 14:33
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    But this certainly could have been part of Andy's act. A deadpan reading of song lyrics was right up his alley. If it weren't for the people offstage telling him what to do, I'd think this was his audition.
    – Barmar
    Sep 29 at 14:35
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    @Barmar - They're certainly part of the audition process. If the producers don't like how someone looks or sounds, then they can still lose the part, but in this instance they seem to have been told just to talk or make faces or whatever.
    – Valorum
    Sep 29 at 14:36

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