Appearing virtually on Friday’s Tonight Show, John Goodman told former Saturday Night Live star Jimmy Fallon just how close he came to actually joining the SNL cast. “It was the worst thing I’ve ever done in front of people in my life,” recalled Goodman of his disastrous 1980 audition, cringing at the memory. So, “not very close” is the answer to that one.
Still, the now 69-year-old Goodman has gone on to host Saturday Night Live an impressive 13 times over the years, so presumably things worked out for the best. (Goodman last hosted all the way back in 2013, though, so it’s about time for number 14, Lorne.) Not to pile on that ill-fated cast, tasked with replacing the original Not Ready For Prime Time Players, but Goodman’s subsequent 13 hosting appearances represent more SNL stage time than that claimed by eventual hires like Ann Risley, Gilbert Gottfried, Gail Matthius, or Tony Rosato. So take that, SNL casting people.
Still, Goodman remains firmly on the SNL brass’ side when it comes to him not getting the gig. (The SNL wiki claims that the slot Goodman was vying for was instead filled by Joe Piscopo, so take that how you will.) Telling Fallon that he went into the potential career-making (or, as it happened for several eventual hires, career-scuttling) opportunity completely unprepared, Goodman noted that the then brash young John Goodman went onstage brimming with the confidence of a guy who’d whipped up his audition piece 15 minutes before going onstage.
“I just knew they’d hire me,” recalled Goodman, still clearly embarrassed, “Just for my pers— ’cause I’m a nice guy.” And while the struggling, 28-year-old Goodman bombed hard on that long-ago day in New York, Goodman doesn’t appear to harbor any ill will. Even though it was another six years or so before True Stories introduced the wider world to the unique glories of a true John Goodman performance. (Apologies to those who recognized the eventual movie and TV legend’s greatness in his 1984 C.H.U.D. role of “cop in diner.”)
As to his current busy schedule, Goodman could only marvel that his Roseanne TV daughter Alicia Goranson has written an upcoming script for an episode of belated spinoff, The Conners, and that he’s not 23 years old anymore, as evidenced by how hard he beefed it in a recent The Righteous Gemstones fight scene. “It’s the loudest thing I’ve ever heard in my life,” said Goodman of the impact of his head smashing into the back of a truck in the parking lot stunt gone wrong. Taken to the hospital after the incident, Goodman told Fallon gamely, “They couldn’t tell if I had a concussion, so I guess I’m okay.”