Paul Shaffer
Credit: Mark Dye/PR Photos

Nobody would want to be poor Jenny Slate, tripping on an F-bomb on her very first Saturday Night Live episode. But she’s in good company: Paul Shaffer thought his TV career was over when he committed a very similar gaffe, subbing a “f—ing” for a “flogging” in a Medieval-themed 1980 sketch, the first such utterance in SNL history. “It went really well in the dress rehearsal,” says Shaffer, who details the incident in his forthcoming memoir We’ll Be Here for the Rest of Our Lives. “So well that I added extra ‘flogging’s until there was finally just a totally slip. I went white. When it was over, Lorne Michaels came up and said, ‘You broke down the last barrier.’” Of course, Shaffer managed to go on to a robust career as Letterman’s longtime bandleader, so Slate could very well be just fine (unlike the more unfortunate circumstances of Charles Rocket and, to a lesser extent, Norm MacDonald). “When you put someone on live TV, you are trusting them,” Shaffer says. “In her case it was obvious she did not betray that trust on purpose. It wasn’t like I was trying to get noticed by yelling out an obscenity, and I don’t think she was either.”

Photo Credit: Mark Dye/PR Photos

Episode Recaps

Saturday Night Live - Season 42

Saturday Night Live

The original late-night comedy sketch show from the one and only Lorne Michaels.

  • TV Show
  • 46
  • TV-14
  • Saturdays at 11:30 PM
  • Lorne Michaels
  • NBC
stream service