Rebuilding effort (1995–1996)[edit | edit source]
The 1995–96 season almost completely rebuilt the cast with new members Jim Breuer, Will Ferrell, Darrell Hammond, David Koechner, Cheri Oteri, Nancy Walls, Chris Kattan, Colin Quinn & Fred Wolf. The only holdovers from the previous season were Norm Macdonald, Mark McKinney, Tim Meadows, Molly Shannon & David Spade.
The larger-than-usual number of new hires was part of a rebuilding effort from the 1994–95 season, a season that executive producer Lorne Michaels acknowledged was "incredibly difficult".
Lenny Pickett also took over for G.E. Smith as leader of the Saturday Night Live Band. Of the cast members held over from the previous season, only Meadows and Spade were actual veterans. The other three were still newcomers to the show.
Macdonald had a few bit parts in his first year (the 1993–94 season) and was the anchor of "Weekend Update" (a satirical news sketch performed during every episode) during the 1994–95 season, his performance considered a high point in a season widely considered lackluster.
Shannon appeared in early 1995 as a featured performer after Janeane Garofalo quit the show; McKinney began in early 1995 as well, but as a contract player, having gained much experience in televised sketch comedy as a veteran of Canadian variety show The Kids in the Hall, also produced by Lorne Michaels.
David Spade became the longest-serving cast member during this season. Fred Wolf (a writer for the show since 1991) would also serve a brief run as a featured player during this season and the next.
The new cast members quickly made an impression and revitalised the show. Hammond in particular quickly built up a repertoire of popular impersonations, including Bill Clinton and Chris Matthews.