Julia Louis-Dreyfus tells Seth Meyers why her SNL stint was a "disaster"

The iconic actress actually got her start on the sketch show.
"Tuesday" New York Special Screening
"Tuesday" New York Special Screening / Santiago Felipe/GettyImages

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is synonymous with funny shows. She starred on Seinfeld, The New Adventures of Old Christine, and Veep, becoming the most award-winning actress in small screen history in the process. It's fitting, then, that she got her start on Saturday Night Live.

Louis-Dreyfus was a cast member on the sketch show from 1982-85, and while it helped to boost her profile, it was not an experience she enjoyed. She recounted her time on the show during her recent appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers. Meyers was the former head writer of SNL, so he knows how tough it can be to get your footing. He was also amused by his guest's bluntness.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus didn't like SNL's format

"How long into it did you know it was a disaster?” Meyers asked, to which Louis-Dreyfus dryly said: "Oh, like 15 1/2 seconds." She then went on to detail the ways in which the experience differed from what she thought it was going to be.

"I thought it was going to be all loose and we would all be thinking up ideas on our feet and that’s how the show would work..."

Julia Louis-Dreyfus recalled auditioning sketches in front of established SNL cast members like Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo, and struggling to get positive feedback. "They had us arrive and sit in that area where you do the table read and act out some of our sketches," she noted. "It was so not well-received."

She bounced back with Seinfeld in 1990

Things, of course, worked out well. Louis-Dreyfus left SNL in 1985 and went on to have her breakout role as Elaine Benes on Seinfeld five years later. The experience shooting Seinfeld, she told Meyers, was completely different. “It was pure joy from beginning to end," she gushed. "I thought, 'No one will ever get this because we’re having too much fun.'" Thankfully, the world got it.

Louis-Dreyfus even reconnected with her old SNL co-star, Eddie Murphy, for the comedy film You People in 2023.

dark. Next. s. Saturday Night Live just aired its worst episode