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

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.

ABBA’s appearance on the show is the first (and only) attempt to intergrate comedy into the musical performance. Klein, Michael O’Donoghue, and two other women are passengers on the Titanic, seated at the side as ABBA performs. Klein makes hapless gestures as ABBA performs “S.O.S.”. This is one of the few moments where Saturday Night resembles more of the typical variety shows of the time, like Sonny and Cher.

In “One Minute Mystery”, Dan Ackroyd asks, “Do I know who murdered a fly paper heiress? I do, but more importantly, does our viewing and studio audience know? I want to give them fifteen seconds to come up with the right answer, starting now!” In “Beecentenial Minute”, Garrett Morris tells the travails of a bee named Henry, who finds his way to George Washington’s tent and meets his fate being crushed by a musket.

With a sloppy blond wig draped over his head, Chevy Chase plays Gregg Allman. An announcer asks, “Gregg Allman, how’s your love life?” Fooling around on a keyboard, Allman half-heartedly asserts, “I got a new keyboard, a new album coming out, groupies everywhere.” The announcer repeats his question with various inflections, and Gregg Allman continues to evade him. When the announcer asks this question one final time, Allman realizes he’s asking about his wife Cher, and blurts, “It’s, uh, toilet,” and collapses on the keyboard.

John Belushi plays Sam Peckinpah, who is directing a romantic comedy with Gilda and Robert Klein as the leads. The premise of the sketch is that Peckinpah, who made his name with aggressive, hypermasculine westerns, is ill-suited for Romantic Comedy. When Gilda doesn’t deliver exactly what he wants, Peckinpah kicks Gilda in the shin, slugs her, twists her arm, and manhandles her. Robert Klein’s “Rex” character finally knocks him over, and Peckinpah, defeated, yells, “That’s it! I think we got a take.”

During the break of “Weekend Update”, there’s another Jamitol commercial, this time with a narcoleptic Jane Curtain. In the second half, Dan Ackroyd makes his first appearance as on “Update”, using the mannerisms he would perfect as an anchor later on: a stern demeanor and swift talking. Later, he would take the conservative viewpoint in the point/counterpoint arguments on “Update”, inaugurating his arguments with, “Jane, you ignorant slut!”. Here, he takes a liberal viewpoint, encouraging viewers to conserve energy, even as Chevy Chase mocks him using an electronic razor.

Following a sketch that has Belushi and Klein in dressed in fatigues, working as cowardly exterminators, we have Gilda as a fireman. Gilda, or “Gil”, as she is known in this sketch, talks about the perks of working as a fireman: “You get a dog, you play board games, kids love you, and you get to see people in their underwear if their houses burn down at night. She gives fire prevention tips, such as, “When you’re cooking over a gas stove, don’t wear a japanese bathrobe. The sleeves hang down, and they can catch fire.” She also advises that “If you’re playing bingo, sit near an exit.”

In “The Land of Gorch”, King Ploobis has a serious headache, and does everything in his power to make it go away. A belly dancer does a dance for him, but eventually he turns to acupuncture to ail him. When he goes to the Mighty Favog, he discovers that he too has a headache, and is also using acupuncture.

Klein then performs another standup routine. He talks about enrolling at Alfred University because of what he saw on the brochure: students joyously looking upward. This is followed by the K-Put pricing gun, which allows you to price grocery store items to your liking. Having worked as a Grovery Store cashier, this is funny on TV, but a nightmare in real life.

Loudon Wainwright makes a second musical appearance. “Looks at Books” has the very first appearance of Emily Litella. Emily’s high-pitched voice and tics are there, but she has a different wardrobe than she would have later. Emily has authored a book, “Tiny Kingdom”, which is about two “teeny, tiny” people living in a “teeny, tiny” kingdom. Another commercial for The Ambassador Training Institute appears, this time featuring a multiple choice question. Enrollment can be sent to “Illegal Campaign Contributions, Mexico City, Mexico.”

Dressed in a bandanna and a blue shirt, Robert Klein cries “Gimme some blues!” and performs “blues music” with a harp. “I can’t stop my leg!” he howls. His leg goes on as the music stops.

ABBA’s performance of “Waterloo” returns to the “Titanic” set. Subtitles inform us of what is actually going on:

Right now, ABBA is lip-synching. It’s not their fault. The tracks didn’t arrive from Sweden.

Mid-way through the song, the Titanic begins to sink.

The show ends with Robert Klein in a bathrobe. Everyone had a good time.


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