Rob Reiner w/Penny Marshall, The Lockers & “Joe Cocker”: 10/25/75

In contrast the previous week’s program, which was mostly a musical program, this week’s episode with Rob Reiner was mostly comedy. There were no musical acts–unless you count John Belushi lip-synching spastically to Joe Cocker.

Following another “Chevy Chase falls down” cold open, Rob Reiner comes onstage dressed as a cheesy lounge singer with a bad toupee and one of the baby blue, ruffly tuxedos that were popular in the 1970s. Reiner performs a lounge rendtion of “Blowin’ In The Wind”, and introducing a middle aged man as Irving Berlin. A subtitle reads: “This is not Irving Berlin, but Rob doesn’t know it.” Rob Reiner’s act is somewhat reminiscent of Bill Murray’s “Nick Winters” character. Reiner, who early in his career was a member of the LA wing of the San Francisco improv group The Committee, is perhaps commenting on his generation’s worst fears: seeing a significant song reduced to a nostalgic lounge melody.

The first commerical parody is a PSA spoof sponsored by “The National Pancreas Association”. John Belushi is not feeling so well, and wife Gilda Radner encourages Belushi to have his Pancreas checked out. Dan Ackroyd plays a doctor who confirms that Belushi’s pancreas is indeed “on the fritz”, and fixes it. The PSA plays out more like a commerical for a cold medication than the PSAs of that time:

The first sketch opens with Rob Reiner hosting a fashion show. He gives a shout out to his wife, Penny Marshall, and his stepdaughter, Tracy who are out in California. Don Pardo announces in a voiceover that they’ve flown in Penny Marshall, but Rob doesn’t know it. In a spoof of one of those “TV Surprise” moments, Penny Marshall walks onstage, and the two present a fashion show together.

The fashion show turns into a warped version of What Not To Wear. Gilda Radner comes onstage with her underwear over an orange pantsuit. She is followed by Laraine Newman wearing a dress with a hanger on it. Garrett Morris having a chair attached to his suit, Jane Curtain wearing a hamster head, Jon Belushi with a crab pinching his forehead, and Michael O’Donoghue with a piece of toilet paper trailing his tuxedo.

Another commerical parody selling Haitian Voodoo acupuncture that serves as a substitute for surgery. While it’s funny, but in light of Pat Robertson’s comments on Haiti, it doesn’t leave the best taste in your mouth:

Andy Kaufman lip-synchs to a children’s record, which segues to Dangerous But Inept, where Jane Curtain hosts a talk show featuring Laraine Newman playing Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme. Laraine plays Squeaky with a crazy glint in her eye, but ultimately harmless. When Squeaky aims a gun at Jane, it doesn’t fire–it makes the clicking sound a toy gun makes.

The Lockers, one of the early street dance groups, perform a routine onstage. The Lockers features a post-Easy Rider, pre “Mickey” Toni Basil (wearing a weird Afro hairdo), and Fred Berry, who would become famous playing Rerun on What’s Happening?

On Weekend Update, correspondent Laraine Newman reports a hostage situation from The Blaine Hotel, the same hotel where SNL‘s guests supposedly stay, insinuating that SNL‘s low budget forces to put its guests in perilous hands. On location, the criminals’ list of demands reads like a game show prize list, with Don Pardo reading: a helicopter ride, luggage, an airplane ride to Cuba, carpets, “Guido” slacks, and gold. At the end of Update, Garrett Morris makes his first appearance as a representative for the organization for “the hard of hearing”, where he appears inside a bubble and screams the headlines.

John Belushi channels Joe Cocker’s appearance at Woodstock, complete with Cocker’s stiff, spastic moves, and writhing around onstage. Cocker’s rendition of “I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends” is familiar to most people of my generation as The Wonder Years.

The week’s Muppets installment has King Ploobis having to deal with his son, Wisss, smoking craters and becoming a “crater head”. Ploobis tries to lecture Wisss about not smoking craters–once as himself, and in the way Wisss would speak. Wisss sounds a awful lot like Tommy Chong, and despite his father’s attempt to reach him, says, “Your aura is red!” Wisss blows smoke on Scred, who gets a contact high.

Following another PSA that features Chevy Chase as a drooler, and a sketch featuring the cast square dancing, there’s an appearance by Mark Hampton and Denny Dillon as Nuns hosting a fundraiser. Dillon herself would join the cast of SNL in 1980, after Lorne Michaels was thrown out and replaced with Jean Doumanian. That’s followed by “What Gilda Ate”, which is announced by Rob Reiner as a new regular feature, but I don’t recall this airing at any other time.

Albert Brooks’ short film features him fufilling his dream to become an open heart surgeon. After placing ads in newspapers in ten different cities, Brooks heads to a hospital, where he’s greeted by an old guy eating fast food. Albert Brooks struggles to try and understand what he’s supposed to do, and even has a prank pulled on him–the “fake vein” joke. Nonetheless, the operation is successful, and the surgery patient is back to work directing air traffic.

The closing sketch starts out as a sketch as Rob Reiner and Penny Marshall as restaurant patrons until the bees step in. Rob Reiner breaks the fourth wall and gives the crew a lecture on how the bee sketch doesn’t work. Already in the third episode, the bees have become a running gag about awful variety sketches that don’t work.

Closing credits are different. Rather than Reiner and the cast waving to the audience and the viewers, pictures from SNL’s bumpers and opening montage are run behind the credits. This would not last.

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