The Early Saturday Night Live Stars That Most Influenced Mike Myers

Mike Myers began his “SNL” service in 1989, an era when the unruly geyser of funnyman talent from up north — be it New York or beyond the Canadian border — eased to a trickle. The wounds of John Belushi’s 1982 death were still tender; the ill-advised adaptation of Bob Woodward’s Belushi biography “Wired” was met with mass vitriol. Eddie Murphy’s films like “Another 48 Hrs.” and “Boomerang” would collect modest box office sums, but nothing like the commercial success he had enjoyed for the past decade. “Second City Television” grad Rick Moranis was now working with powerhouse studios on “Parenthood” and the “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” pictures. Second City superstar John Candy was shifting into more sentimental acting roles — both he and Steve Martin wowed audiences with heartfelt performances in John Hughes’ “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.”

As for Martin, he was still active but more docile than in his “Theodoric of York” days — the result of a discerning campaign of role-choosing to make audiences believe that he was more than just a pratfall comedian; his comedy would refine itself for the Vexed Dad demographic. In short order, he would co-write and star in “Cyrano de Bergerac” adaptation “Roxanne,” co-star opposite Michael Caine in Frank Oz’s gem “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” and play Vladimir in Mike Nichols’ onstage revival of “Waiting for Godot.” When Martin returned to host “SNL,” Myers was starstruck. He tells Armisen:

“I was like, ‘Wow, those are the molecules that Steve Martin’s made of.’ He invited us all out for lunch, he paid for us, and then said, ‘I’m going to go get some gum, you want to come with me?’ I was like ‘Yeah!’ People were like turning around in the street and nudging each other and I went into a variety store and he bought gum. I’ll never forget it the rest of my life.”

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