Crystal was already a successful stand-up comedian when creator Lorne Michaels found her. Crystal said in the book that Michaels approached her after seeing her work at the Catch a Rising Star comedy club. “He asked me if I was interested in residing with the company. He felt that I would be on the show six times, and then he saw that in two years I would be the host of the show, along with all the other hosts. He would have been raising me to be one of the main guys.” Back then, there were rotating presenters, including George Carlin, who was selected for the first episode.
Crystal’s manager, Buddy Morra, said the actor had to turn down a Bill Cosby special to do SNL. Back then, it was a big deal. He rehearsed every day and prepared a “special piece” for the first episode. However, this was not a skit that could be cut, and its performance lasted six and a half minutes. Morra said that each day of the rehearsal, Crystal would show up, wait about eight or nine hours, and then go home without doing anything.
Crystal was determined to do the draft nonetheless, and she did it Friday night during a dress rehearsal in front of NBC executives and a live audience.