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.

Live From New York, It’s Saturday Night

Steffie and I usually watch SNL together. It’s good to have her there because there are always some social references she needs to explain to me. To a lesser extent, I do the same, like with Bud Collins last night.

I saw SNL live March 11, 1978. The host was Art Garfunkel. It was less than memorable. I do remember having really bad sight lines and being disappointed.

Last night was the best show, so far, of this season. The host, Andy Roddick, was adequate. He seemed less than adept at sketch comedy, but very game – that counts for a lot.

There was a very funny Mary Poppins bit with Rachel Dratch early in the show and Horatio Sanz as straight/butch Rosie O’Donnell during weekend update, but the best bit of the show came near the end. The premise was a small time television station with huge, overpowering music that wouldn’t quit and major technical problems on-the-air. Somehow, I felt I had lived that nightmare more than once.

Horatio Sanz is the breakout star of the current cast. He was good last year, but it’s obvious that the writers have learned to tool bits toward his more physical comedy. I am surprised that he continues to giggle during sketches, as I was under the impression that Lorne didn’t like or put up with that.

I read the excellent Tom Shales SNL book this past summer. It was a fast read. More importantly, the book was really a well edited compilation of interviews which explained everything I never understood or even questioned about the show.