Crystal was already a successful stand-up comedian by the time creator Lorne Michaels found him. Crystal said in the book that Michaels approached him after seeing his work in the Catch a Rising Star comedy club. “He asked me if I was interested in being a resident in the company. He felt I would do six appearances on the show, and then he saw me becoming a host of the show, among all the other hosts, in two years. They’d be grooming me to be one of the main guys.” At the time, there were rotating hosts, including George Carlin, who was tapped for the first episode.
Crystal’s manager Buddy Morra said that the actor had to turn down a Bill Cosby special to do SNL. Back then, that was a huge deal. He rehearsed daily and had a “special piece” ready for the first episode. However, this wasn’t a skit that could be cut down, and it took six-and-a-half minutes to perform. Each day of rehearsal, Morra said, Crystal would show up, wait around for eight or nine hours, and then go home without doing anything.
Crystal was still set on doing the sketch, though, and performed it during the Friday night dress rehearsal in front of NBC executives and a live audience.