George Carlin’s Final Gift

Saturday Night Live aired a repeat, as scheduled. What changed was which repeat. This week was the first Saturday Night, episode one before they added the word “Live.” George Carlin was host.

snl-title.jpgIf I hadn’t read a story about George Carlin’s memorial, I wouldn’t have known what Lorne Michaels did this past Saturday. Saturday Night Live aired a repeat, as scheduled. What changed was which repeat. This week was the first Saturday Night, episode one before they added the word “Live.” George Carlin was host.

not-ready.jpgIt was 1975. Don Pardo mistakenly called them, “The Not For Ready Prime Time Players.” On they went. There they were–Chevy, Belushi, Dan Akroyd, Garrett Morris, Jane, Laraine, Gilda and George Coe. George Coe? Trust me, you’d recognize him in a second. He’s been in everything, especially commercials.

chevy.jpgBilly Preston and Janis Ian performed. So did Valri Bromfield and Andy Kaufman. Michael O’Donaghue, among the strangest people ever, was there too. Franken and Davis, Alan Zweibel and Herb Sargent were writers. Davey Wilson, later with Letterman, directed.

Maybe there’s something to be learned. The bits were shorter. That worked. On the other hand, there was less comedy and more music. The mix is better now.

The audio was awful and very hollow. From what I can hear on my speakers, it’s obvious the house PA was also terrible.

I love Albert Brooks. He had a film. Albert Brooks was a fixture of the early Saturday Night (Live). This was a takeoff of old newsreels. Very funny.

Valri Bromfield. Really? Terrible.

During “Weekend Update” Chevy said, “I’m Chevy Chase,” but not “and you’re not.” He also did a very old one-liner. To paraphrase, “The Post Office has a new stamp commemorating prostitution. It’s 15&#162. A quarter if you lick it.”

Jim Henson’s Muppets appeared. They were regulars on the first few shows. The bit was not a success. They were victims of the bad audio. The studio audience was silent as the bit played out.

This was by no means a perfect show. It was uncharted territory–a show unlike any other. The seeds were planted that night, October 11, 1975. Back then, it was amazing to watch.

Blogger’s note – Not that it matters, but I was at the next SNL, the following Saturday. My friend Paul, through his friend Jim, got me the tickets. Art Garfunkel was there and it was pretty terrible. At least I can say I was there.

2 thoughts on “George Carlin’s Final Gift”

  1. When interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air a while ago, Alan Zweibel said that the stamp-commemorating-prostitution item was the very first joke he wrote for SNL. Old now, new then.

    And remember how Roseanne Rosanna-Danna always answered letters from a Mr. Richard Feder of Fort Lee, New Jersey? That was Zweibel’s shout-out to one of his relatives.

  2. I thought it was interesting that when they were hired, Franken and Davis split a salary, b/c there was only one slot left.

    Also, note how many of those skits seemed to jump right out of improv comedy- like the hilarious courtroom skit. It didn’t try too hard to be topical, it was just funny stuff. Much like Carlin- he was rarely political- just deliciously observational about social behavior.

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