Update: 3/1/10

Posted in Update with tags on March 1, 2010 by Erin

“Not Ready For Prime Time” is on hold until further notice. Right now, I’m working on some things that I deem more important.

Will be back later…

Candice Bergen, Martha Reeves, & The Stylistics: 12/20/75

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 19, 2010 by Erin

Candice Bergen was not only the first woman to host Saturday Night Live, she was also the first person to host more than once, hosting for the second time in six weeks. I was looking forward to the Consumer Probe sketch, one of my all time favorites, with Irwin Mainway (Dan Ackroyd) and his “Bag O’Glass”, but that won’t be until next season.

Gerald Ford is setting up a live Christmas Eve broadcast from the White House. The President’s servant, Frank, brings him a cognac. President Ford tells Frank that he doesn’t have to call him “Mr. President” on Christmas Eve. Instead, he can call him “Dr. President”. On the air, the President climbs up a ladder next to the Christmas tree to put an ornament on top. He falls.

There’s no monologue tonight. Instead, Candice says a few words, then introduces Martha Reeves, who puts her own spin on the Motown staple “Higher and Higher”.

I’ve seen Mel’s Char Palace many times over the years, whether it be this episode, or in SNL‘s Commerical Parody showcases. This is the first time, however, that I realized exactly what makes Mel’s Char Palace funny. It isn’t just a funny parody of local eatery commercials. It isn’t just Dan Ackroyd’s broad pitch to the audience, or Gilda’s riling up the chainsaw. Mel’s Char Palace has black humor in it–you, the customer, will not only eat the steak, you will find the cow, butcher it, and cook it. Not very sanitary.

Mel’s Char Palace is this week’s recurring gag, following the Beethoven does pop of two episodes before, and the Richard Pryor line-up gag of the previous week.
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Richard Pryor & Gil Scott-Heron: 12/13/75

Posted in 1975-1976 with tags , , , , on February 17, 2010 by Erin

This particular episode of Saturday Night seems to be heavily tailored to host Richard Pryor’s comic sensibilities. Rather than Pryor merely participating in performing the sketches, many of the show’s sketches seem to revolve around the topics of Pryor’s standup: Race and Class. When I looked up this episode at SNL Transcripts, I realized this wasn’t an accident:

In order to get Richard Pryor to host the show, producer Lorne Michaels had to meet Pryor’s demands: Gil Scott-Heron (a groundbreaking artist in his own right) had to be a musical guest on the show; actor Thalmus Rasulala and his ex-wife Shelley (also the mother of Pryor’s daughter, Rain) must also be allowed to make appearances on the show. In 1975, Pryor was at the top of his game and this was only Saturday Night‘s seventh episode, so Pryor was able to bend Michaels’ resolve.

The result, in my opinion, was Saturday Night‘s best show up to this point. This episode is incredibly cohesive in tone, well-paced, and well written from beginning to end with some help from Pryor and his collaborator, Paul Mooney. Readers may recognize Paul Mooney from Chappelle’s Show:

Video: Paul Mooney as Negrodamus

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Lily Tomlin, Howard Shore & The All Nurse Band: 11/22/75

Posted in 1975-1976 with tags , , , on February 15, 2010 by Erin

Yet another opening with Chevy Chase as President Ford. Subtitles appear: “This is not a good impression of Gerald Ford, but Rich Little won’t work for scale.” As Gerald Ford, Chevy Chase discusses New York City’s financial problems. He hasn’t granted New York City federal funds yet, stating:

The longer I hold out on New York City, the better chances I have with those Conservative Republicans who would otherwise support Ronald Reagan, pretty smart, eh?

Ford has two Rotary Phones at his desk: Henry Kissinger on one phone, Anwar Sadat on the other. He accidentally hangs up on both of them, falls down, and declares, “Live from New York, It’s Saturday Night!”

Lily Tomlin delivers her monologue on a brand new set, the set that would remain through the 1978-79 season. Lily delivers a short rap that closes, “Take pride in yourself, you could be Philadelphia.”

Saturday Night is still experimenting. John Belushi makes three appearances as Beethoven in this episode: in his first appearance, he attempts to play “Moonlight Sonata”, only to get frustrated and switch up to “Tie A Yellow Ribbon”. In the second Beethoven segment, he tries to play his “Fifth Symphony”, then gets bored and starts playing “My Girl”. Late in the episode, the third and final appearance, Beethoven snorts coke and starts playing Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say”. Laraine Newman and Gilda Radner, playing maids, appear dumbfounded by his raucous change of pace and become a ad-hoc version of the Raelettes. Beethoven’s “What’d I Say” is an irrevrent stab at Masterpiece Theatre.

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Betty White to host SNL Facebook Campaign

Posted in Current SNL Events with tags , , on February 13, 2010 by Erin

The next episode (with Lily Tomlin) is on its way. In the meantime…

I urge anyone who’s on Facebook to join the Fan Group Betty White to Host SNL (please?)! if you haven’t already done so.

Word has it that NBC/SNL has already reached out to Betty White’s publicist, but this campaign could use another push.

NPR has a nice write-up on the campaign and offers some good reasons as to why Betty White should host the show. I like this reason best:

Landing a big movie star like Megan Fox doesn’t really matter anymore, because they can come on the show and — like Megan Fox did — come off as utter stiffs. Even when they get good hosts like Mad Men’s Jon Hamm, they don’t know what to do with them anymore. Hosting Saturday Night Live has become such an obligatory part of the PR circuit that no matter how big a celebrity a hot young talent may be, nobody is really impressed that the show landed him or her to host.

You know what would be a big headline? Betty White. It’s such an unexpected maneuver that it would legitimately cause people to pay attention to what’s become one of the most expected shows on TV.

Robert Klein w/ABBA & Loudon Wainwright III: 11/15/75

Posted in 1975-1976 with tags , , on February 5, 2010 by Erin

At the cold open of this Saturday Night, Laraine Newman (playing a woman named “Shari”) refuses to accept her title as Miss America because she finds beauty pageants to be degrading. She rips off her frock, crown, and cape, and piles it on Chevy Chase, shrieking, “Nobody dresses this way anymore!” Chevy Chase takes it upon himself to walk down the aisle, singing “There she is, Miss America…” then procedes to do his fall down schtick, and declare, “Live, from New York, it’s Saturday Night!

The opening credits try on a new, slower paced theme song, and announces that there will be “No Film By Albert Brooks”, never mind that fact that he’ll be out before this season is done, anyway.

Robert Klein’s monologue reminisces about the early days of television. In one sentence, Klein manages to distill essence of the early days of Saturday Night, and why I chose to embark on this project: “I remember that things could happen live!”. After riffing a little on live television cartoons, he diverts his monologue to talking about making a movie with Joan Hackett.

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Candice Bergen and Esther Philips: 11/08/75

Posted in 1975-1976 with tags , , , , on February 1, 2010 by Erin

“I’m pleased to be on the Saturday Night with Harvey Cosell,” Says Chevy Chase, doing the cold open as Gerald Ford.

When Chevy Chase impersonates Gerald Ford, he really isn’t impersonating Gerald Ford at all; it’s more like Chevy Chase acting presidential, with the occasional falling down (something Ford did frequently). That’s what makes it funny.

Candice Bergen mentions in her monologue that she is Saturday Night‘s first female host, but that has no bearing on the ERA, a hot topic at the time (and that said, during most of the 1970s). The monologue is followed by a commerical parody for the Ambassador Training Institute, a vocational school that trains you for a career as a diplomat.

This episode marks the first appearance of Chevy Chase’s “Landshark”, a parody of Jaws. Chevy Chase’s shark appears at the door, mentioning that he’s there to deliver a “Candy Gram”. Laraine Newman and Jane Curtain are eaten alive. Candice Bergen tries to club the shark, only to get Garrett Morris instead.

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