Saturday Night Live Transcripts

  Season 1: Episode 9

75i: Elliot Gould / Anne Murray

Albert Brooks Film

... Albert Brooks
Paul Rennert ... James L. Brooks

[Comedian Albert Brooks, wearing brown flannel shirt and brown pants, stands outside a building, addressing the camera.]

Albert Brooks: Hello, I'm at the National Audience Research Institute, a few miles outside of Phoenix, Arizona. This is my last film in this series for the Saturday Night show. I might be back but that's not important right now. What is important is you. Come inside with me. I'll show you what I mean.

[Brooks heads into the building. Dissolve to Brooks inside the building as he walks past a row of large, noisy computers and addresses the camera.]

Albert Brooks: In this building, hundreds of dedicated men and women work in order to find out what you, the audience, like and why you like it. You know, some performers say, "I don't care about the audience. If they don't like it, fine. I got my own style, my own bag. I'll wait for other audiences." [Brooks stops. We cut to a close-up.] Not me. I'm not that stupid. That's why I'm willing and able to change in any direction you choose. [Cut wide again.] All I have to know is why you don't like it and what it is I can do about it. And that's what brought me here.

[Cut to Brooks in a denim outfit, walking through an Institute hallway.]

Albert Brooks V/O: I first came to the Research Institute one year ago today. With my own money and a twenty-five thousand dollar grant, I intended to launch the most comprehensive research program ever attempted for one individual.

[Cut to a room with four researchers sitting at a table. Brooks enters and shakes hands with them.]

Albert Brooks V/O: The Institute assigned three men and one woman to my project. As soon as I met them, I knew I was in good hands.

[Cut to interview footage of Paul Rennert, one of the researchers, in his office.]

Albert Brooks V/O: There was Paul Rennert, a pioneer in the field of audience research.

Paul Rennert: Yeah, I went to the University of Colorado and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I got into research.

Albert Brooks: [off screen] Is it an absolute science, research?

Paul Rennert: An absolute? No, no. It's not an absolute. The wonderful thing about it, and what excites the people who are in it, is that you can go ahead and dig and compile, dig and compile, and you're not heading towards any final answer.

[Cut to interview footage with another researcher, Brian Elsner, who wears a white lab coat in a computer lab.]

Brian Elsner: Look...

Albert Brooks V/O: Brian Elsner...

Brian Elsner: ... I'm not even gonna deal with this problem.

Albert Brooks V/O: ... one of the first men to introduce computers into the field of audience analyzation.

Brian Elsner: We have tons and tons of computer data. By the time we compile it and read it out, it's out-of-date.

[Cut to interview footage with the only female researcher, Sandy Laughton.]

Sandy Laughton: Whether you're walking on the moon or choosing The Tonight Show...

Albert Brooks V/O: Sandy Laughton, responsible for choosing just what material of mine would be used for testing purposes.

Sandy Laughton: The material seldom makes me laugh.

Albert Brooks: [off screen] That's not 'cause it's not funny.

Sandy Laughton: Not necessarily. I - I laugh when I think I've done a good job.

[Cut to interview footage with the oldest researcher, Mark Fielding, a gray-haired, bespectacled man who wears a bow tie.]

Mark Fielding: The participants in these tests ...

Albert Brooks V/O: Doctor Mark Fielding, head of the research team.

Mark Fielding: ... are chosen by tests so complicated that, actually, it deserves studying.

Albert Brooks: [off screen] What was the age range of the participants?

Mark Fielding: A four year old boy in Des Moines, Iowa to a seventy-five year old woman in San Diego, California. And every possible combination in-between.

[Cut to Brooks, walking down a flight of stairs outside the institute, addressing the camera.]

Albert Brooks: Obviously, a research institute that has spent millions of dollars on a testing program can't divulge its secrets on national television. However, since I was paying for this, they did allow me to film small portions of just a few of the over one hundred and six tests given.

[Cut to a projection room where four test subjects sit in recliners wearing headphones. Sandy Laughton, wearing a white lab coat, paces behind them, holding a clipboard, making notes.]

Female Subject: No!

Male Subject: [soberly] I'm laughing very hard.

Female Subject: No!

Little Girl: I don't like it!

Female Subject: Yes.

Albert Brooks V/O: Test Eleven.

Male Subject: [soberly] I'm not laughing.

Female Subject: Yes. Yes. No.

Albert Brooks V/O: Wearing special headphones, groups of four people, chosen for specific reasons, were asked to listen to a comedy recording of mine and verbalize all thoughts and feelings.

Male Subject: [soberly] I'm laughing hard.

Little Girl: I like it!

Albert Brooks V/O: On the surface, this test appears to tell nothing. However, once the information was fed into a computer, the results were astounding.

[Cut to a man and a woman sitting on a sofa. They wear name tags.]

Man: I don't understand the whole thing. This is the Tonight Show. We've been watching the Tonight Show for twenty years....

Albert Brooks V/O: Test Twenty-eight. In their own home, this couple has just watched me perform on a late night talk show. The Institute felt it would make for an unusually honest critique if, after the program, they could remain in their home and speak to me directly through their television. [Cut wide to reveal researcher Paul Rennert sitting in a nearby chair in the couple's living room, arguing with them. Brooks is visible on the TV.] At a staggering cost per minute, special lines were set up between the Institute and this house two thousand miles away. Regrettably, these people were not briefed properly and their confusion was costing me a fortune.

Albert Brooks: [on the TV screen, interrupting the argument] Hold it! Wait a minute! I'll explain one more time. Okay?

Man: Please.

[Cut to Brooks in a TV studio.]

Albert Brooks: I'm not in Burbank.

Man: Yeah.

Albert Brooks: I'm nowhere near the Tonight Show.

Man: Oh.

Albert Brooks: I did that earlier this evening.

Man: I see.

[Cut to the living room with Brooks on the TV.]

Albert Brooks: [on TV] I left. I got on a plane. I'm now near Phoenix, Arizona.

Woman: So you left The Tonight Show?

Albert Brooks: [on TV] Yeah.

Woman: Uh huh. And now you're in Arizona?

Albert Brooks: [on TV] Right! I'm at the Institute.

Woman: I see. I see. I see.

Albert Brooks: [on TV] Now, what did you think of the show?

Man: How close are you to Phoenix?

Albert Brooks: [on TV, completely loses it] What difference does it make HOW CLOSE I AM TO PHOENIX???!!!!

[Cut to Brooks in the TV studio.]

Albert Brooks: [goes ballistic] What the hell is going on?! What did you think of the show?!

[Cut to an Institute control room where a videotape of Brooks' previous film for Saturday Night plays on a pair of TV screens. Brian Elsner, the computer specialist, is visible in the background.]

Albert Brooks: [on TV screen] Before I go, I'd like to say one thing. You know, making film is a cooperative effort ...

Albert Brooks V/O: Test Sixty-five. One of a series of tests utilizing the Institute's very newest computer. [Cut to a hairy-chested, bearded man with sensors stuck to various parts of his body and head.] This man, while viewing me on television, was sending over two million impulses into this -- what the Institute calls the XR-8000. [We cut back and forth between computer and sensor-rigged man] This computer can actually translate these impulses into a critique that can be read and discarded, much the same as a typical newspaper review.

[A teletype prints out the critique. It reads: "At this point, however, Brooks simply becomes a babbling Brooks. The sharpness of his wit is dulled by the fact that he can't seem to hold an audience once it is there. Some comedians have that gift, Brooks does not. He assumes that an audience, once in a setting, is good for at least an hour. Streisand, yes. Albert Brooks, no. Another annoying things seems to be Brooks' attitude toward people that don't like his act. He wastes no time before he insults them ..." Cut to a small room. Brooks talks with a male test subject. Through a glass window, we see researchers Elsner and Laughton watching and taking notes.]

Albert Brooks: [to the male subject] Just-- You see, you've taken it the wrong way.

Albert Brooks V/O: Test Seventy. I was placed in a small room with a subject who, in an earlier interview, expressed an intense dislike for my work.

Male Subject: [hostile] It's tasteless.

Albert Brooks V/O: I was instructed to see if I could bring him around to my way of thinking. This test was designed to show just how deep audience feelings ran.

Male Subject: [angry, yelling] I don't care! You're - not - funny!

Albert Brooks: But I AM funny!

Male Subject: [grabs Brooks by the arms] You understand that? I HATE YOU! You're not funny!

Albert Brooks: But don't you - don't you understand--?

Male Subject: [shakes Brooks violently] Look! You're not funny! I hate you!

Albert Brooks: I don't think you understand--

Male Subject: No, YOU don't understand!

Albert Brooks: Okay.

Male Subject: [increasingly violent] I hate it! I hate you! I hate everything about it! You're not funny! You're not funny and I hate your guts!

Albert Brooks: Okay. [taps on window, yells to researchers, who do nothing] Let me out - let me out of here!

Male Subject: I hate you.

Albert Brooks: Okay. Let me out.

Male Subject: You are not funny!

Albert Brooks: Oh, okay.

Male Subject: You are not funny ...

Albert Brooks: Let me out of here!

Male Subject: ... at all!

[Cut to Brooks, walking briskly away from the Institute, wearing his brown outfit again. He carries a massive book and addresses the camera.]

Albert Brooks: The National Audience Research Institute has just turned over to me its findings in this eight hundred and twenty-two page report. I'm gonna go on a vacation now and have somebody I trust put this into a synopsis I'll read. [pauses at the top of a flight of steps running down to the street] The next time I see you, I hope and pray to be more of what YOU want. [Brooks starts walking down the steps.] Thank you! And if you're going on vacation, please, have a nice one, too!

[Fade out.]

Submitted Anonymously

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