Saturday Night Live has been a mainstay in American comedy for nearly 40 years, launching the careers of countless comedians. But before those comedians could make millions from lucrative movie deals, they first had to make it past producer Lorne Michael's legendary audition process. The New York Times interviewed many present and former cast members to get the behind the scenes stories of all the steps of the SNL audition, from the jitters of the first time they get on the audition stage to the ambiguity of Michaels' confirmation that they made the cast. The newspaper also has extended interviews with some of the most famous SNL alums: Chevy Chase, Dana Carvey, Molly Shannon, Kristen Wiig, Will Ferrell, and Jimmy Fallon. As SNL enters a new season with a significantly different lineup, this deep look at the casting process provides some interesting insight into how the sausage is made.

"There’s a point where I’m rolling around on the ground, in complete silence, playing with cat toys. And I’m thinking: Oh, it’s over." — Will Ferrell