The Reason John Belushi Grew To Hate Chevy Chase

When Saturday Night Live first aired in October of 1975, nobody knew the show would consistently produce the types of stars that would shape American comedy for more than 45 years. The first wave of comedians propelled to fame have become some of the great heroes of comedy over the past four decades, and their roots can be traced back to SNL's live satiric performances . "The Not Ready For Prime-Time Players," as they were called back in the earliest days of SNL, included names like Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, and the late John Belushi.

You'd think a group of talented comedic minds would work well together while they ushered in one of the greatest and longest-lived television shows in history, and it probably looked that way from the viewer's side of the TV screen. Behind the scenes, SNL was a totally different beast. Some members of the early cast got along famously — Aykroyd and Belushi became the best of friends — but others were at each other's throats from the get-go. The most famous of these rivalries was the one between everyman comic John Belushi and the witty pretty-boy of late '70s comedy, Chevy Chase. And why? That's easy: Chase's cruel attitude and Belushi's raging envy.

SNL? You mean The Chevy Chase Show

Egos have been known to run unbridled through the entertainment industry. It doesn't matter if it's a rockstar performing at a sold-out arena or a comedian coaxing laughs from the set of a weekly sketch program. When fans around the country know your name, if you're not careful, the applause can drown out the last lingering whispers of humility left in your brain. That seems to be what happened to Chevy Chase.

Within a year, Chase had managed to turn SNL into "The Chevy Chase Show." He'd become the pretty face of the production. Viewers across the country tuned in to SNL simply to watch Chase's "Weekend Update," the show's fake news segment, but fans didn't know what was going on behind the set. According to The Telegraph, Chase was an arrogant and cruel comic who often used his wit to hurt his peers. "He teased in the way that a big brother would, aiming for exactly what would hurt your feelings the most," Chase's former co-star, Laraine Newman, once said. Chase had a habit of turning his mean-spirited wisecracks on Belushi because, as the Belushi biography points out, John was chubby and didn't come from the same upscale background that Chase did.

Grantland mentions that Chase would claim to shave Belushi's back and teach him to use silverware so the comedian could function in a civilized manner. Basically, Chase was a jerk, and few cast members liked him.

A little bit of jealousy goes a long way

With Chase carrying an arrogant attitude that only seemed to get bigger as his fame and success grew, it's easy to see why a blue collar comedian like John Belushi would be annoyed. But somewhere along the line, Belushi's annoyance turned into outright disdain. Chase was rising rapidly in popularity while Belushi, though still a fairly popular comedian in his own right, wasn't receiving near the attention as his egotistical co-star. To Belushi, this wasn't fair.

Chase had grown out of Saturday Night Live and moved onto bigger things during the show's second season, though, as The Telegraph points out, he'd return for guest appearances. To Chase, this signified his superiority to the rest of the cast, and he was known for claiming that SNL "wasn't as good" after he left.

According to Grantland, Belushi believed himself to be the superior talent, and he was more than upset that Chase, not he, was the one being praised and promoted. In Belushi's mind, he was the better of the two, and he had proof. It was Belushi who'd been featured in National Lampoon's Lemmings stage production. It was Belushi who'd been given the role of creative director on Lampoon Radio Hour. But, for some reason, all Belushi had been given since he moved to television were the "bones dogs wouldn't chew on," while Chase was being made into a comedy superstar. Belushi detested him for it.