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Current and former Saturday Night Live cast members paid tribute to their longtime leader at Lincoln Center Thursday

February 12, 2016 01:15 PM

Live from New York, it was Lorne Michaels‘s night!

On Thursday, Saturday Night Live‘s longtime leader watched his friends and colleagues perform in his honor, focusing on music as well as comedy at Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Gala.

Tina Fey and husband Jeff Richmond wrote and directed a show featuring powerhouse talent and audience members including Steve Martin, Martin Short, Jimmy Fallon, Candice Bergen, Steven Spielberg, Diane Sawyer, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Maya Rudolph and many more.

Highlights of the evening included Fallon bringing barbershop and R&B music together in a version of R. Kelly’s “Ignition,” fighting against an issue the talk show host dubbed #SongbookSoWhite.

Meanwhile, Fey, Cecily Strong and Kate McKinnon formed a musical trio in honor of the man, while Rudolph presented a mashup of songs because she couldn’t pick just one that reminded her of the formidable Michaels.

Lorne Michaels (center) with friends at the American Songbook Gala in his honor
Jimi Celeste/PMC

Tony Award winner and 30 Rock alum Jane Krakowski joined Tracy Morgan to sing “Embraceable You,” while Kenan Thompson, Taran Killam and Tituss Burgess serenaded Michaels with “Guys and Dolls.”

The event also included a performance of “Make Someone Happy” from Broadway star Audra McDonald, who remarked that she’d never met the comedy creator and that Fey told her this was a benefit for Planned Parenthood.

From left: Steven Spielberg, Lorne Michaels and Alice Michaels at the American Songbook Gala
Jimi Celeste/PMC

Some expressed their admiration for the executive producer of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night With Seth Meyers in heartfelt yet funny speeches.

“Lorne is known for having a great eye for talent, and I’m not just saying that because he’s the only person to ever give me an acting job, ever,” Fey joked.

If you’re wondering why Michaels was honored at an event generally reserved for those known for their work in the music industry, you’re not alone.

From left: Lorne Michaels, Diana Taylor and Steve Martin at the American Songbook Gala
Jimi Celeste/PMC

Saturday Night Live alum and Michaels’ good friend Steve Martin dedicated his speech to the elephant in the room.

“When one thinks of the American Songbook, one thinks immediately first of Lorne Michaels, because his contributions to the American Songbook have been just awful,” Martin said, invoking an uproar of laughter from the audience.

He then went on to speak about fictional albums the Canadian had recorded. “Lorne, what an incredible honor this is for you – because of all the people in this room, it is you who deserves it least,” the actor concluded.

Fred Armisen, in character as Michaels’ longtime doorman, presented him with an award while all the performers joined him onstage. Michaels humbly accepted the trophy, expressing that he has the best job in New York City because he gets to work with people like those who honored him at the event.

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