Aykroyd gained fame on the American late-night comedy show Saturday Night Live, where he was a writer and the youngest cast member for its first four seasons, from 1975 to 1979. Aykroyd brought a unique sensibility to the show, combining youth, unusual interests, talent as an impersonator and an almost lunatic intensity. Eric Idle, of Monty Python, once said that Aykroyd's ability to write and act out characters flawlessly made him the only member of the SNL cast capable of being a Python.
He was known for his impersonations of celebrities like Jimmy Carter, Vincent Price, Richard Nixon, Rod Serling, Tom Snyder, and others. He was also known for his recurring roles, such as Beldar, father in the Coneheads family; with Steve Martin, Georg Festrunk, one of the "Two Wild and Crazy Guys" Czech brothers; sleazy late-night cable TV host E. Buzz Miller and his cousin, corrupt maker of children's toys and costumes Irwin Mainway (who extolled the virtues and defended the safety of the "Bag-o-Glass" toy, perhaps the retail leader of the "Bag-o" series of toys); Fred Garvin – male prostitute; and high-bred but low-brow critic Leonard Pinth-Garnell. He also co-hosted the Weekend Update segment for a season with Jane Curtin, coining the famous catchphrase "Jane, you ignorant slut" during point-counterpoint segments.
Aykroyd's eccentric talent was recognized by others in the highly competitive SNL environment: when he first presented his famous "Super Bass-O-Matic '76" sketch, a fake T.V. commercial in which a garish, hyper pitchman (modelled after Ron Popeil) touts a food blender that turns an entire bass into liquid pulp, "to the 'Bass-O-Matic' was so exhilaratingly strange that many remember sitting and listening, open-mouthed ... Nobody felt jealous of it because they couldn't imagine writing anything remotely like it."
While Aykroyd was a close friend and partner with fellow cast member John Belushi and shared some of the same sensibilities, Aykroyd was more reserved and less self-destructive. In 1977, he received an Emmy Award for writing on Saturday Night Live; he later received two more nominations for writing, and one each for acting and Outstanding Comedy-Variety series.
In later decades, Aykroyd made occasional guest appearances and unannounced cameos on Saturday Night Live, often impersonating the American politician Bob Dole. He would also bring back past characters including Irwin Mainway and Leonard Pinth-Garnell. During a couple of his guest appearances he resurrected the Blues Brothers musical act with frequent host John Goodman in place of Belushi. Finally in May 2003, he hosted the season finale of Saturday Night Live. During his monologue, he did a musical bit with James Belushi that was similar to the Blues Brothers, but neither Aykroyd nor Belushi donned the famous black suit and sunglasses. It was a unique hosting choice as he was not promoting a project at the time and he did not bring back any characters for this appearance. He became the second member of the original cast to host the show. On March 24, 2007, he made an appearance as a crying fan of American Idol finalist Sanjaya Malakar (played by Andy Samberg) during Weekend Update. On February 14, 2009, he made an appearance portraying U.S. House Minority leader John Boehner.
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