Wednesday, February 11, 2015

40 Classic SNL Moments (Part 1)

From it's very beginning in 1975 Saturday Night Live has been a thermometer of what was happening in the world around us. Whether through parody, political satire or the Weekend Update news report, SNL reflected what was happening - and it reflected it immediately. This has been constant, even in years when the show was not all that good. But at its best the show was more than a thermometer- it was a thermostat, actually exercising some control over popular culture and political debates. And it did it all with humor. For 40 years now, SNL has made us think, talk and laugh out loud. This Sunday NBC will host a special celebrating 40 years of the show and some of its greatest moments. I can't wait to see what they come up with for us. But today (and tomorrow) I want to share with you 40 of my favorite moments from the past 40 years. Some are sketches and and events that all SNL fans will remember. Some are ones that are just stuck in my head. I hope you enjoy this walk through time. Here are the first 20, in no order whatsoever.

*  The First Appearance of the Landshark- For months after we met Chevy Chase as the villainous door-to-door shark we all walked around knocking on doors and saying, "Candygram." (1975)

*  Buckwheat Sings!- "Wookin pa nub in aw de wong places..."  My very favorite Eddie Murphy moment. Until Buckwheat was shot...(1981)

*  The Job Interview- Chevy Chase finishes an interview with Richard Pryor by doing a word association exercise that gets very racist very quickly, and ends with Pryor being hired as the highest paid janitor in America. This skit could NOT be done today. (1975)

*  Debbie Downer at Walt Disney World-  In what was intended to be a skit about Debbie Downer and her unique ability to shed darkness on even the happiest of moments, a sound effects cause first Rachel Dratch (Debbie) and then fellow actors, Jimmy Fallon, Lindsey Lohan and Horatio Sans to completely lose character. I've seen it dozens of times and it still cracks me up. (2004)

*  Synchronized Swimming - A great skit with Martin Short and Harry Shearer. In many ways it was the first SNL Digital Short. Words fail me, so just watch. (1984)  

*  Rev. Jesse Jackson Reads Green Eggs & Ham-  Just a few says after the death of Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, Rev. Jackson appeared on Weekend Update and gave the classic Green Eggs & Ham the dramatic reading it has always deserved. It was a moment I have never forgotten. (1991) 

* Memoirs by Richard Nixon- The original cast (including Aykroyd as Nixon, Belushi as Henry Kissinger and Gilda Radner as Pat Nixon) relive Nixon's final days in the White House. Highlights include Nixon forcing Kissinger, who was Jewish, to pray with him, and Nixon yelling at a picture of JFK. "You had sex- in the White House! That NEVER happened while Dick Nixon was president...never...never...never..." (1975)

*  The Hanukkah Song- Adam Sandler gives us a holiday song for the ages, as well as a list of Jewish celebrities. This was another "I can't believe what I just saw" moment for me. Absolutely hysterical. "O.J. Simpson- not a Jew..."  (1994)

* The First Show After 9/11/01 - New York's Mayor Rudy Giuliani is joined onstage by representatives of the police and fire departments to assure the nation that New York is open for business. After a very moving opening, including Paul Simon singing Homeward Bound, Lorne Michaels appears and the Mayor welcomes back to the air SNL, one of the city's great institutions. Michaels thanks Giuliani and then asks, "Can we be funny?" The Mayor pause a beat and replies, "Why start now?" And the show was back. (2001)

*  Sarah Palin- In 2008 John McCain picked Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate and Saturday Night Live could not have been happier. Tina Fey, who had left the cast by then, returned a number of times to play Palin in a variety of skits. She nailed her mannerisms, her look and her voice, and Palin continued to give them great material to work with through the campaign and beyond. This was SNL at its political best. "I can see Russia from my house!" (2008)

* The Sweeney Sisters Meet Paul Simon- The Sweeney Sisters (Jan Hooks and Nora Dunn) were one of my favorite recurring sketches in the late 80s, and on one occasion they got to treat the great Paul Simon to a medley of his own songs. It was priceless.. "And like a bridge over troubled waters- you have laid yourself down!" (1987) 

* News for the Hard of Hearing- As a feature of Weekend Update, Chevy Chase would introduce Garrett Morris, headmaster of the New York School for the Hard of Hearing, to repeat the top story of the night. Another one that would be too politically incorrect for our world today.  (1976) 

*  Schweddy Balls- A Christmas skit in which sexual innuendo, great timing and three great actors (Alec Baldwin, Molly Shannon & Anna Gasteyer) keeping straight faces when it would have seemed to be impossible made for SNL history. (2003)

*  James Brown's Celebrity Hot Tub- Eddie Murphy does James Brown better than James Brown does James Brown as he invites us all to spend time in the hot tub. "Should I get in the hot tub? Will it make me sweat? Well, well, well...HOT TUB!" (1983)

* Andy Kaufman Does Elvis- The late (maybe?) great Andy Kaufman appeared on SNL a number of times in the first few years, including the very first episode. He was goofy and occasionally funny, doing his Mighty Mouse act and Foreign Man (which eventually became Latka on the tv show Taxi). One night Foreign Man was doing terrible impressions of various celebrities when he announced that now he would "do the Elvis Presley." What followed was without a doubt the best Elvis impression I have ever seen, and Studio 8-H went wild for Andy. A great, great moment. (1976)

* Coffee Talk featuring Barbara Streisand- With original host Paul Baldwin (Mike Myers) still out with shpilkis in his genechtagazoink, Linda Richmond (also Myers) continues to sit in. His guests are two Jewish friends played by Madonna and Rosanne Barr, and they all idolize Barbara Streisand. "She's like butter. Like a big hunk of butter." At the end of the skit, Babs makes a surprise appearance stunning everyone. A classic moment! (1992)

*  Ebony & Ivory-  Frank Sinatra (Joe Piscopo) joins Stevie Wonder (Eddie Murphy) at the piano to jazz up the classic song Ebony & Ivory. The result is comedy gold. (1982)

*  Aerosmith Visits Wayne's World-  As Wayne and Garth (Mike Myers & Dana Carvey) visit with their roadie (Tom Hanks), Aerosmith is hanging out in Wayne's breakfast nook. All is well until Wayne's mom joins them. The band eventually comes to the basement and does their own version of the Wayne's World theme song. "Check, check...sybellince...sybellince..." (1990)

*  D*ck in a Box-  Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake take the Digital Short to a whole new level with the Christmas song about a special gift they want to give their special someones. And it comes with instructions for those of us at home. "1- cut a hole in the box. 2- put your junk in that box. 3- let her open the box. And that's the way you do it..." (2006)

* Strategery- No one provided SNL with more comic material over the years than George W. Bush, and no one did a better Bush impression than Will Ferrell. A classic moment that my son and I often quote comes from a 2000 sketch depicting a debate between Al Gore (Darrell Hammond) and Bush. When asked to give one word to describe what his presidency will be like, Ferrell responds "Strategery." A made-up word for a guy who would spend the next 8 years making things up. Priceless and prophetic! (2000)

So that's it for today. Come back tomorrow for 20 more...if you dare!!!

    No comments:

    Post a Comment

    Thanks for reading,and thanks for your comment!