"Sketch comedy" refers to short scenes or "plays" in which the comedians assume roles and interact with each other using dialog. We call it "sketch comedy" in order to differentiate it from "stand up comedy," which is when a comedian stands in front of an audience and tells a series of jokes.
Saturday Night Live is a famous late-night show in the US that began in 1975. It features a regular cast of players who take part in different short "sketches" throughout the program. Mike Myers, for example, was a cast member of the show and eventually gained individual fame for some of the characters he created, such as Wayne from "Wayne's World" and Dieter from "Sprockets." Eddie Murphy was also a cast member on Saturday Night Live who eventually stood out from the rest because of his popular recurring characters such as Gumby and Buckwheat.
Every once in a while, a player from SNL stood out from the rest and caught the eye of a Hollywood producer, which led to a career in films. That is why we say Saturday Night Live launched the careers of Eddie Murphy and others; it was the first public exposure of their talents, and it led to greater things.
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