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The SNL Skit That Became The Scariest Moment Of Rob Lowe's Life

"Saturday Night Live" is a variety show packed with music and celebrities and comedy sketches that are filmed live each Saturday night. Really, it's all in the name. Like all live television – and all live media – the production is constantly fraught with happy little accidents that the cast and crew must handle with flexible grace. The trouble is, whether or not they make it look easy, that doesn't negate the real fear that might occur at the moment everything begins to fall apart, and even professionals can fall prey to it. 

With that in mind, few bits of celebrity gossip are as intriguing as when a performer reveals a colossal mess-up that happened behind the scenes of the beloved series. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter for the variety show's 40th anniversary, former "SNL" cast members Mike Myers and Fred Armisen spoke of a number of things that made the production special to them. One of the topics they covered was how hard filming live television could be and how Myers got to witness the "scariest moment" in Rob Lowe's career.

Rob Lowe was terrified by a cue card catastrophe

In a 2015 interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Mike Myers said, "I was doing a Dieter sketch with Rob Lowe and the cue cards fell like 52-pickup style. Rob is looking to me because he thinks I'm the 'live TV guy.' And to this day Rob will call me and I'll go, 'How are you?' and he'll joke 'Uhh, ohh, umm ... Mike, that's still the scariest moment of my life.'" 

For the uninitiated, cue cards are essentially an actor's — or a newscaster's — replacement for a script. They're held just off-screen for the individual in question to see and read. They're often used in lieu of standard scripts as they're easier to edit on the go for live productions because only a brief amount of information is present on any given card (via Write-Out-Loud).

And, as a performer, the knowledge that cue cards will be present means little-to-no memorization is required, only charismatic live readings. So, imagine, then, everything that stands between a smooth read and utter chaos collapsing on the ground, totally out of order and utterly unsalvageable, is a single stage crew member accidentally loosening their grip. 

Given such a nightmare scenario, it would seem that Lowe had every right to be terrified, especially as an actor more familiar with prerecorded, episodic television. To be clear, this kind of goof is far apart from the kind that fans of "SNL" are familiar with. The variety series is well known for its performers breaking character when things get too silly. That's almost expected and occasionally even played up for effect. What happened to poor Lowe and Myers is a very different and real kind of catastrophe.