Thursday, February 12, 2015

40 Classic SNL Moments (Part 2)

My Top 40 moments in Saturday Night Live history continue with #21...

*  Not Gonna Phone It In Tonight- In my mind this is the single greatest cold opening to the show in its 40 years of existence. Steve Martin and the entire cast mock their own complacency. The clip is nearly 7 minutes long, so so TOTALLY worth it. "Live from New York...LINE?"  (1990)

*  The Star Trek Convention- Host William Shatner attends a Star Trek convention and addresses the Trekkies. He admonishes them to "get a life" and "move out of their parent's basements"  even as the attendees bombard him with ridiculously trivial questions. A bold and brilliant sketch. "Have you ever kissed a girl, son?  I didn't think so..." (1991)

*  Family Feud- It's the CBS all-stars verses the NBC all-stars in celebrity Family Feud! Host Jimmy Fallon plays Jim Parsons in full character as Sheldon Cooper, captain of the CBS team. Justin Timberlake plays Fallon, captain of the NBC team. Timberlake's Fallon impression is so over the top that Fallon loses it completely on a few occasions. A seriously funny sketch from 2 of the guys whose guest appearances have made the show watchable these past couple of years. "This is so great. Soooo great. So great. Celebrities playing games. Nothing better!"(2013)

*  Buckwheat Has Been Shot- Leaving 30 Rockefeller Center after appearing on SNL, the great Buckwheat (Eddie Murphy) is shot by an unknown assailant who yells out "Hey Mr. Wheat" as he is getting into his limo. What makes this ongoing sketch (it had several episodes the first week and continued on through his death the following week) hilarious is they way they parodied the ridiculous coverage of the night President Reagan was shot in 1981, showing the clip of the shooting over and over again. Joe Piscopo as Ted Koppel was brilliant. "For those of you just joining us, Buckwheat has been shot." (1983)

*  Chippendales- This consistently ranks in the Top 5 SNL skits of all-time on pretty much every list I have ever seen. The brilliance of Chris Farley has never been more evident. "I mean in straight on dancing and presentation ain't no way I'm better than him!"  (1990)

* Master Thespian and His Mentor- Master Thespian (Jon Lovitz) was one of my favorite characters, and in late 1985 we got to meet his mentor, Baudelaire, played by host John Lithgow. They keep fooling each other (Acting! Genius! Thank You!) until Baudelaire can take it no more and thinks he has killed Master Thespian, but he's just acting. Baudelaire he was merely pretending to kill him, but once again, the master prevails. "For it is I who have fooled you. I am dead, and merely acting alive!" And Baudelaire gives the proper response- "GENIUS!" (1985)

* Palm Beach- Quite possibly my all-time favorite skit because of the soap opera setting for some classic SNL political satire. It is December 2000, and in the year of the hanging chad the presidential election is still undecided. All of the major players from the drama in Florida- George W. Bush (Will Ferrell), Kathryn Harris (Ana Gasteyer), Al Gore (Darrell Hammond) and Jeb Bush (host Val Kilmer) have gathered in Palm Beach to await the final tally of votes as Tom Brokaw (Chris Parnell) reports. There is intrigue, romance and hilarity as W. confesses he didn't know being president would last 4 years and Jeb confess that his brother is "special." Brilliantly done from start to finish. "Hey Hey, it's me...hey...uh Jeb...the computer's doing that thing again. Can you fix it for me so I can finish my game of Tetris?"  (2000)

*  The French Chef- Dan Aykroyd (for my money the MVP of the original cast) portrays Julia Childs doing a cooking show. During the scene she cuts her finger and blood begins to shoot everywhere. As she tries to stop the bleeding, she also tries to continue to prepare the food. Finally, after great blood loss, she faints. "Save the liver!" (1978)

*  Stephon's Valentines Day Tips- Bill Hader's character Stephon was a regular visitor to Weekend Update, teaming with Seth Meyers to give tourists suggestions on things to do in New York. I loved these sketches, and this one is a particular favorite. "New York's hottest club is Booooooooof..." (2011)

*  The Nerds Broken Fridge- Nerds Todd and Lisa (Bill Murray & Gilda Radner) are up to their usual tricks, harassing each other and dealing with the Noogie Patrol. Meanwhile, Mrs. Loopner (Jane Curtain) has bigger problems. Her trusty old Norge refrigerator is on the fritz, and repairman Dan Aykroyd arrives- complete with his plumber's crack- to fix it. Sadly, the Norge must be taken away- but not until Todd & Lisa have had plenty of laughs at the repairman's expense. The censors told Aykroyd he couldn't keep his pencil in his butt crack. They were wrong... "Egg salad for everyone!" (1978)

*  Choppin' Broccoli- British musician Derek Stevens (Dana Carvey) knows his drug-plauged career hangs in the as he sits down to perform new music for record company executives played by Sigourney Weaver and Phil Hartman. There's only one problem- he hasn't actually written any new music. So he begins to play and sing The Lady I Know, making up the lyrics as he goes. The song has become known by its familiar and extended chorus- "Choppin broccoli." It is a brilliant performance by Carvey, and a true send-up of the music business- the 2 execs LOVE the new song! "There's a lady I know, and if I didn't know her she'd be the lady I didn't know..." (1986)

* More Cowbell- In an episode of Behind the Music, the rock band Blue Oyster Cult is in the studio hoping to record a new hit song, Don't Fear the Reaper. Legendary producer Bruce Dickinson (host Christopher Walken) is ready to make a gold record. The band (Chris Parnell, Chris Kattan, Jimmy Fallon, Will Ferrell and Horatio Sanz) begins to record, but lead singer Parnell is distracted by the cowbell playing of Ferrell and stops the take. Walken comes in and disagrees with Parnell, saying that he "needs more cowbell." This continues until a fight breaks out between band members, with Walken finally uttering this all-time classic line: "I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell!" The sketch is great, and is yet another time Fallon totally loses character and cracks up during a skit. This sketch gets quoted EVERYWHERE! "Babies, before we're done here ya'll be wearing gold plaited diapers." (2000) 

* King Tut- Steve Martin stunned everyone with this tribute to the Egyptian boy king. This song was so big it was actually played on Top 40 radio. "Born in Arizona, moved to Babylonia, King Tut."  (1978)

*  Bass-O-Matic- Dan Aykroyd did a number of commercials for the fictional company Rovco and their wide assortment of odd products, but nothing ever topped the Bass-o-matic, which was actually just a blender. Ackroyd explained how to use the product: Here's how it works: Catch a bass, remove the hook, and drop the bass - that's the whole bass - into the Super Bass-o-Matic '76. Now, adjust the control dial so that the bass is blended just the way you like it. [turns blender on and grinds it to a pulp] Yes, it's that simple!  He then pours a big glass of the disgusting fish shake and gives it to Lorraine Newman., who takes a gulp and says, "Wow! That's terrific bass!"  We had never seen anything like that on tv before. "We've got fish here, fast, easy and ready to pour!" (1976)

*  Black History Minute- I keep remembering all of these great Eddie Murphy moments that should not be left off my list. Here's another favorite. "So I messed up. Shut up!" (1984)

*  Celebrity Jeopardy- There were lots of great moments for this recurring sketch featuring Will Ferrell as Alex Trebek, but my favorite was the one where the contestants were Burt Reynolds (Norm MacDonald), French Stewart (Jimmy Fallon) and the ever-present Sean Connery (Darrell Hammond). The show gets off to a flying start as Connery insults the host and Burt Reynolds announces that he want to be called Turd Ferguson. The categories include such difficult topics as Animal Sounds, Sharp Things and Movies That Start with the Word Jaws. There is also a category featuring French phrases called A Petite Dejeuner, which Trebel warns them not to try.. As always the contestants are idiots and get nothing right, not even on final jeopardy when all they have to do is write a number. Any number. And they fail. These skits never failed to make me laugh out loud. "Why don'tcha give me Ape Tit for $200?" (1999)

* Steve and Gilda-  Way before Bruce Springsteen's song. Steve Martin and Gilda Radner did a sweet yet hilarious dance routine called Dancing in the Dark. The year was 1978. A decade later (1989) Martin was in rehearsals to host again when word came that Gilda had lost her fight with cancer. The clip was shown again and introduced by Martin as a tribute to the brilliant actress. A rare moment in SNL history- a sketch that was perfect TWICE...

*  Belushi Does Beethoven- I could have gone with a Samurai , a "But noooo!" or even the classic Dueling Brandos. The Thing That Wouldn't Leave is another favorite of mine. John Belushi was just amazing. I even thought about the Don't Look Back in Anger short film. But in the end I decided to go with Beethoven because is a little less known and incredibly funny. The scene below is actually the third section of the skit, following one where the pianist composed the great Temptations song, My Girl.  "Baby it's alright..."  (1977)

*  Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker -  John Belushi had few peers when it came to physical comedy, but Chris Farley was his equal. We lost them both way too soon. The first appearance of Matt Foley found him trying to inspire David Spade and host Christina Applegate at the request of parents Phil Hartman and Julia Sweeney. Spade has said that many of the mannerisms you see from Farley were things they had not seen in dress rehearsal, thus the laughter from the 2 actors. This was ranked by Rolling Stone as the greatest SNL skit of all time. "Well la-dee-freakin'-da!"  (2003)

That's 40. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. I can't wait for Sunday night and the 40th anniversary special on NBC, but for now, let me quote Dennis Miller- "That's the news and I am outa here!"

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