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Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Her Husband Brad Hall Landed SNL While in College

Louis-Dreyfus told fellow Northwestern alum Seth Meyers about her jump from the school improv troupe to the halls of Saturday Night Live. 

By Samantha Vincenty

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is known for giving life to iconic TV characters like Seinfeld's Elaine Benes and Veep's Selina Meyer. But long before she began to rack up Emmy honors for her work on the small screen (19 nominations and 8 wins!), Louis-Dreyfus got her start on a little program called Saturday Night LiveWhat's more, she landed as spot in the SNL cast while she was still in college.

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During a June 10 visit to Late Night with Seth Meyers, fellow SNL alum Seth Meyers pointed out another thing they have in common: They both attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. The Tuesday star ribbed Meyers for making Northwestern's highlight reel with his commencement speech to grads. "Guess who didn't make the cut," she joked of her own 2007 address.

But Meyers noted that during Louis-Dreyfus's speech, she "pointed out that everybody there had accomplished something that you had not."

"That's right," Louis-Dreyfus agreed. "They had graduated."

"But you—I mean, it's literally one of the greatest 'why didn't you graduate' stories of all time: You got hired for SNL," Meyers explained.

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Late Night With Seth Meyers Episode 1528

When was Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the SNL cast?

Julia Louis-Dreyfus was a Saturday Night Live cast member from 1982-1985, first joining in Season 8. She stayed on through Season 10, when her fellow cast members included fellow future comedy luminaries Billy Crystal, Martin Short, Harry Shearer, and Christopher Guest.

She arrived at SNL alongside two other Northwestern classmates: Brad Hall, who's been married to Louis-Dreyfus since 1987, and Gary Kroeger. Hall was the anchor of Saturday Night News, which temporarily replaced SNL's "Weekend Update" format at the time.

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Brad Hall during "Saturday Night News" on SNL in 1983

As Louis-Dreyfus discussed with Meyers, all three of them were members of Northwestern's Mee-Ow improv troupe when they were in college (Louis-Dreyfus was also in Hall's comedy troupe, Practical Theater). A fourth Mee-Ow member, their friend Paul Barrosse, was hired as a writer.

Here's a barely-out-of-college Louis-Dreyfus playing Jim Belushi's college student daughter in the "A Dysfunctional Thanksgiving" sketch:

A Dysfunctional Thanksgiving

"When I think about this — and we've talked about it before, but four college improvisers showing up at SNL," Meyers began. "I mean, I look back and I both love my college improv, and am deeply embarrassed by it."

"Sure," Louis-Dreyfus nodded.

"But at least we weren't, like, on a television show," Meyers continued.

"Exactly," Louis-Dreyfus said. She told Meyers that as a college senior, she'd assumed their improv skills would directly apply to the unique SNL experience.

"I thought it was going to be all loose, and we would all be thinking up ideas on our feet, and that's how the show would work. And you'll notice no one's laughing, 'cause they think the same," she said, gesturing to the audience. "But that is not how the show works."

"Yeah, it is really not how the show works," Meyers, a former cast member and head writer on SNL, laughed. 

Brad Hall Julia Louis Dreyfus and eddie murphy dressed as statues for snl in 1983

The transition from college to the real world can be tough, and Louis-Dreyfus and Hall did it live. They were also part of the cast during a transitional period for the show, when creator Lorne Michaels had stepped away and was replaced by producer Dick Ebersol. Michaels returned for Season 11 in 1985 with an all-new cast in tow.

"But look at us. We did alright," Meyers told Louis-Dreyfus, after sharing what his own adjustment to SNL was like. 

"We're here! It's all good," Louis-Dreyfus, who's returned to host SNL three times, agreed.

Watch the full interview above, and watch Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Seth Meyers go day drinking on June 11.