The star, who last appeared on the NBC show for its 40th anniversary special in 2015, slammed the recent seasons, even blaming creator and former boss Lorne Michaels, who just won an Emmy for outstanding variety sketch series.
“I don’t want to put down Lorne or the cast, but I’ll just say … I’m amazed that Lorne has gone so low. I had to watch a little of it, and I just couldn’t f—— believe it,” Chase told the Washington Post in a new interview. “That means a whole generation of s—heads laughs at the worst f—— humor in the world. You know what I mean? How could you dare give that generation worse s— than they already have in their lives? It just drives me nuts.”
The 74-year-old was part of the original cast when SNL debuted in 1975 and established the Weekend Update segment that is currently co-anchored by Michael Che and Colin Jost.
“I’d have to say, that after the first two years, it went downhill,” said Chase, who left SNL in 1976, in the middle of the second season. “Why am I saying that? Because I was in it? I guess. That’s a horrible thing to say. But certainly I never had more fun. I really loved it and enjoyed it. I didn’t see the same fun thing happening to the cast the next year.”
Though he praised former castmates Gilda Radner and Dan Aykroyd, whom he called the “funniest guy on the show, almost the leader,” Chase name-checked Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Kristen Wiig and Eddie Murphy.
“Just not funny. Makes $25 million a picture,” Chase said about Ferrell while admitting about Fey: “I didn’t see what all the folderol was about. She was good.”
On Wiig, Chase shared, “She had two things going for her. She had clear-cut chops, and she was pretty, too. But what happened to her? Where did she go?”
And though he thought Murphy “was funny,” Chase said Murphy’s Stevie Wonder impression was “not that hard, for Christ’s sake. Your skin’s the same color. You just put on some sunglasses and do this.”
Chase has yet to return to SNL as the host since 1997 — though he’s asked Michaels for the opportunity and was denied.
Recalling how Michaels told him ” ‘You’re too old,’ ” Chase remembered responding six years ago with: “I said, ‘And Helen Mirren’s pretty and young?’ “
He added, “I didn’t get it. You’re too old? We’d had many people older than me hosting. What did he mean? I’ve never understood what he meant. Because I’d be very good, and it would be fun for an audience to see me doing that. It’s like denying that I was the guy who made this show really go that first year. It’s like taking all that away from me.”
WATCH: Jimmy Fallon shares behind-the-scenes stories of his most memorable SNL sketches
Regardless of his opinions on the recent seasons of SNL, Chase has nothing but positive things to say about being on the show.
“I can’t tell you, to be up there, on that stage, doing that stuff. Oh, God, it was fun. I’ll tell you, I’d do it again in a minute,” he said.
A rep for Saturday Night Live declined to comment.
Season 44 of Saturday Night Live will premiere on Sept. 29 with host Adam Driver and musical guest Kanye West.