For many comedians and actors, being offered a spot on SNL is a big break and the culmination of everything they’ve worked toward. Not these people.
In 1994, Aniston had just finished starring on a short-lived Fox sketch comedy show called The Edge. It got the attention of SNL producers, and she won an audition. She was reportedly offered a spot in the cast, but had to turn it out because she had promised to star in a sitcom pilot for NBC. (That sitcom? Friends.)
In 1993, Fox’s little-watched primetime sketch show The Ben Stiller Show won multiple Emmys, but was still cancelled. Co-star Andy Dick was offered a chance to join the cast of Saturday Night Live, but he turned them down. Stiller had been a taped show with a long production schedule; he feared having to come up with new characters and perform them live each week.
While writing for The Office, and occasionally appearing on-camera, Kaling was invited to be a writer on SNL. She turned it down to stay with The Office.
When SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels left the show for a few years in the 1980s, NBC executive Dick Ebersol took over and tried to load the cast with stars from the other major sketch TV show of the era, the Canadian SCTV. O’Hara jumped over to SNL in 1981 and after two weeks of unsuccessfully trying to fit in with the cast and writing staff, returned to SCTV.
Candy was also on SCTV, and the fight to get him on SNL went public. He was so embarrassed that he reportedly went to his farm, and refused to answer his phone. Like O’Hara, he went back to SCTV (but hosted SNL a few years later).
Around 1999, Knoxville made a demo reel of himself and his friends performing bizarre and dangerous stunts. SNL producers offered him a chance to produce a pre-taped stunt each week…at the same time MTV offered him a half-hour series of the same called Jackass. (He went with MTV because they allowed him to use his friends and demo reel costars; SNL wouldn’t.)