Beloved around the world for her many iconic roles, Schitt's Creek is one of the best Catherine O’Hara TV shows. After all, it's the series that gave us the iconic character Moira Rose. But other fans of her storied resume may be more familiar with her time as a staple on one of the best sketch comedy shows, SCTV, along with other notables like Eugene Levy and Martin Short. And believe it or not, O’Hara almost became a part of the Saturday Night Live cast in the ‘80s. It's a “what if” scenario that apparently inspired some less than truthful stories about why she didn’t go through with the gig. Which in turn inspired the legendary comedic talent herself to clear the air and set the record straight.
What Are The “BS Stories” About Catherine O’Hara’s Short SNL Tenure?
In an interview with People, Catherine O’Hara set the record straight regarding what exactly happened. As one might expect, the Argylle star didn’t pass up her shot at being part of the infamous 1980-1981 season because of previous rumors of intimidation. Addressing this story head on, here’s how Catherine began recalling how it all really went down:
There’s been BS stories about I was supposedly scared by somebody. Our producer would get a deal with a network, and we’d have a show for a season or two, and then that deal would go away. There’d be a break, then we’d do the show again. I got asked to be on Saturday Night Live. And of course I said yes. Who doesn’t want to do that?
As for the rumors as to who may have “scared” the acclaimed actress off of SNL, it's been said that then-head writer Michael O’Donoghue was the supposed culprit. She previously addressed that assumption during an episode of WTF with Marc Maron. While peaking with Maron (via Vulture), Catherine O’Hara gave this account of her SNL experience:
I lasted about a week and a half, but it was just the writing period. We weren’t into doing shows. I just was so uncomfortable, and I can’t even explain why. I was just in the wrong place. It was wrong for me … I remember Michael O’Donoghue, he said [he] scared [me] off or something and he didn’t … I saw him enough at parties. I wasn’t frightened of him.
The timing couldn’t have worked out more perfectly, as the Canadian grown SCTV and NBC were about to go into business together. Which gave the rising star the out that she needed, as her “comedy family” came calling.
Why Did Catherine O’Hara Really Drop Out Of SNL?
As previously mentioned, the show in question that happened to serve as Catherine O'Hara's big break was SCTV, which was kind of like Canada’s answer to SNL. While it originated on the country’s Global Television Network in 1976, there was a span between 1981 and 1983 where NBC aired the series with longer than usual 90-minute episodes.
With that pick-up now a done deal, and only a week and a half in the books at SNL, the eventual Beetlejuice star made her decision to go back to SCTV. And who could blame here when, in her recent People interview, she described that choice as follows:
Basically I said, ‘Oh, sorry, I gotta go be with my [comedy] family.’ … It all worked out the way it was supposed to.
A good comedy family will always steer you right, and you can typically make memories along the way. That’s part of why Catherine O’Hara’s Home Alone reunion with Macaulay Culkin was such a beautiful moment to see. It’s also part of why, despite missing out on becoming part of Saturday Night Live history, O’Hara’s choice to return to SCTV was the better move. Just as the woman herself pointed out, everything lined up the way it was meant to.
If you want to see how the veteran actress lines up in the crazy meta-comedy world that is Argylle, you’ll get your chance to see that soon enough. The film opens this week, as part of the 2024 movie schedule, with early showings starting on Thursday night. One can also grab a Hulu subscription and stream her small-screen comedic exploits within all six seasons of Schitt's Creek.