Phil Hartman's SNL audition reel

Here's Phil Hartman's 11-minute SNL audition from 1985 or 1986, with a guest appearance by Jon Lovitz. It's very funny, very raw, and pure Hartman -- fascinating and sad to see how Hartman's genius shone through from the earliest days.

Phil Hartman SNL audition (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)



  1. Yeah, this has long been one of my favorite things to watch.  I first saw this clip when it was an bonus feature on a Best of SNL: Phil Hartman DVD.  Good god, was that man funny.  He stole the show in every movie he was in, too.  I mean, Phil as the Park Ranger in ‘So I Married an Ax Murderer’ was hilaaaaaaaarious!  I wish he were still around…

    1. I re-watched Newsradio last year, and man.  Man, oh, man.  Still one of my favorite shows, and Bill McNeal is still one of my favorite sitcom characters.  I love Jon Lovitz but I couldn’t finish the series after Hartman died — both during its original air and this last time around. :/

      1.  The episode that was made just after his murder was epic!  I hope you watched that one.

        I’m rewatching the whole series on Netflix, and I’m dreading the event.

        Mind you, watching Maura Tierney on the series makes the waiting intoxicating.

      2. Love News Radio! Still one of my favorites to re-watch. I actually thought John Lovitz did a pretty good job picking up the pieces, but no one can replace Phil Hartman. One of my favorite episodes is actually when Bill McNeal is arrested at the beginning of the show and is placed in a psych ward for observation- and he and Lovitz get to riff the entire time.

        Oh, I see, you’re crazy.
        Well, I prefer the term…  crazy.

        Yes, please.
        I was talking to the cigarette. Cigarette, prepare to be smoked.

  2. During the DNC  a few days ago, and friend and I were saying how, if Phil were still alive today, he’d probably be doing a pretty bitchin’ impression of Joe Biden.

  3. He was as funny as anyone that’s ever been on that show. I really miss him. His genius did shine through, but he had to be pushing 40 by the time of this audition-not such early days in the life of a comic, though he didn’t really get started until he was well into his 20s.

  4. Weird. Phil’s audition for SNL  included a riff on Sgt. Bilko and he actually played the bad guy in Steve Martin’s horrible Bilko movie in 1996.

  5. Will always be heartbroken (no pun intended) over Phil Hartman’s death. Even though i was  a very young kid when he was killed i was nevertheless a huge fan, i loved him in SNL, News Radio, and everything else he was in. Were he alive today he’d be among the greatest movie actors/comedians, and i am deeply saddened over the jokes, movies, and stories we were deprived from his death. I cannot express how much i miss his brand of humor.

  6. Coincidence that the Simpsons started being just a bit less funny after he died? And he wasn’t even one of the major characters.

  7. His polish and genius showed through because it wasn’t really “earliest days”.  Hartman had been a part of the Groundlings for years, so by the time he got to SNL he had been doing sketch comedy and developed much of the characters he’d bring to SNL. 

  8. Amusing discrepancy between the reel and the comment policy. 
    Here and now I can say “fuck” all I want, but if I wrote about the boy climbing up the coconut palm my comment would be deleted. 
    I’m alright with that.  Sort of.

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