Saturday Night Live Transcripts

  Season 2: Episode 5

76e: Steve Martin / Kinky Friedman

Plato's Cave

Written by: Michael O'Donoghue

Narrator ... Don Pardo
Gregory ... Michael O'Donoghue
Francesca ... Jane Curtin
Suki ... Gilda Radner
Herbie ... Dan Aykroyd
Guitarist Juan ... Chevy Chase
Poet Rodney ... Steve Martin
Blind Negro Jackson ... Garrett Morris
Comedian Shelley ... John Belushi
Dancer Isadora ... Laraine Newman

[Beat music: piano, bongos, flute, bass. Close-up of a ceiling lamp. We pull back and down to reveal a typically dark and smoky beatnik bar of the late 1950s as a superimposed text scrolls by.]

Narrator V/O: [reads the text] In the 1950s, a common need to rebel against the Establishment drew together certain writers, artists, poets and thinkers, distinguished by their unconventional attitudes, behavior and clothing. They were known as ... the Beatniks.

[A couple of signs (one in glowing blue neon) indicate that we are in PLATO'S CAVE. Cigarette smoke rises to the ceiling. Movie posters adorn the brick walls. Waitress Suki Bird stands beside a huge coffee urn reading a book. Bongo player Herbie Gleason wears beret and sunglasses as he sits with other oddly dressed jazz musicians (bass, flute, piano) who play on a tiny upraised stage. We catch a glimpse of a blind black guitarist who sits at a table with a finger-snapping Jewish woman, as we pan down to a black-clad couple seated at a nearby candlelit table. They smoke. Francesca, the more inexperienced one, listens raptly as Gregory, an urbane worldly gentleman with dark glasses and beard, finishes telling a once-famous sick joke about a multiple amputee boy:]

Gregory: Lord knows the kid can't play baseball, right? So, dig it, so, finally, she says to the kid, "You know he can't play baseball. Why do you want him to come out?" The kid says "That's okay, we just want to use him for third base!"

[The two laugh.]

Francesca: I love sick humor. It really wigs me out. Like, I dig it when Lenny Bruce says we're all puntzes and we don't know our shvukuses from our shmups. Or when he says, "Go shtunk mud."

[Suki the waitress leans in, book in hand, to correct her.]

Suki: That's "shtup mud" -- shtup. What do you two want to drink?

[We dissolve over to Herbie, the jazz musician with the bongos, who acts as Master of Ceremonies, introducing the various artists in a gravelly, dope-inflected voice.]

Herbie: All right, yeah! And now, you chicks and you cats are really gonna dig this dude from Spain! He's a flamenco guitarist -- and guitar is his second ax, man! He bummed around with Jack Kerouac's cousin. Juan Kutner! Yeah, let's really dig him, he's a real wigged out guy.

[Applause from the crowd and a musical flourish from the band as Juan enters, is handed an acoustic guitar, and sits on a stool. A long pause as the mustachioed Juan, in sunglasses, red neckerchief and open-chested shirt, puts his ear to the ax and silently tunes it. Sitting in the background, Herbie fills the pause with a string of mellow interjections:]

Herbie: Yeah. Right. Groovy. Awright.

[Juan finally strums a few notes, hits a chord, then howls a long, loud, wordless Latin-inflected melisma. Toward the end, he gags a little, then finishes up and strums another chord. He resumes his howl briefly, ends with a decisive nod of the head, then finger-picks the guitar tunelessly as Gregory and Francesca watch impassively from their table. Gregory lights a cigarillo. Juan struggles to free his fingers which get jammed in the strings, mumbles and curses in Spanish, indicates to Herbie that he's stuck. The jazz band begins to play him off.

Herbie: Yeah, right, hey!

[Applause. Juan shrugs, rises, crosses to Herbie who helps to pull his fingers free of the strings, then exits, taking his stool with him. Herbie is already introducing the next artist:]

Herbie: All right, you know that when Ginsberg wailed with the "Howl," you dig, "I have seen the best minds of my generation screaming, hysterical, naked, roaming through the Negro streets at dawn lookin' for an angry fix." -- you knew he was talkin' about one cat, man. And that cat was poet Rodney Chernin. Go, Rod, go!

[Applause as gray-goateed, black-clad Rodney Chernin, wearing scarf and beret, rises from a ringside table into the spotlight, swaggers to center stage, book in hand, surveys the crowd briefly, consults his book, then begins to read melodramatically:]

Oh, Mr. Commuter!
Wash me not in your Mad Ave. paint-by-numbers soap,
In your Cheez Whiz TV dinner bathtub graveyard.
Not for me your drip-dry tuna casserole! [bongo rim shot]
Not for me your gray-and-pink poodle FASCISM! [bongo]
I'd rather roll in my own PUKE! [bongo]
Free and proud to smell.
This is poetry!
It does not NEED to rhyme!
Ga ga!
Da da!

Herbie: Genius! Ah, genius!

Comma, comma!
New line: colon!
Question mark?
Hear the sound!
Hear the sound! [bongo]
Zoom! [bongo]
Zoom! [bongo]
Zoom! [bongo]

[Rodney pauses, unsure of the next word, mumbles to himself, consults book.]

Rodney: Oh!

[Rodney resumes his rant, gesturing broadly:]

Rodney: Zoom! Zoom! Zoom!
Fallout shelter!
Explosion! Explosion!!! EXPLOSION!!!
[slaps himself hard in the face]

[Applause, music. Gregory and Francesca, too cool to clap, merely snap their fingers. Suki the waitress, still reading her book, brings them their drinks.]

Gregory: [casually, to Francesca, off the poet] I prefer his haiku.

Francesca: [not understanding the word "haiku"] I love Japanese movies. I mean, films. But they're so nihilistic, I--

Suki: [interrupts] Anything's better, uh, than Hollywood, man. I mean, James Dean went to Hollywood. Look what it did to him. I'm studying the Method with Uta Hagen. I'd never go to Hollywood, it's nowheresville.

[Suki moves off as we cut to Herbie, introducing the next act:]

Herbie: And now, the most from the South. All the way from Shreveport, Louisiana, he's Blind Negro Jock Jackson. Maybe some of you cats and chicks aren't hip to this but, like, Negroes have really suffered in white society! So dig this mannnnnnn.

[Blind Negro Jackson -- eyes shut, head upraised, huge openmouthed grin -- takes center stage. Carrying an acoustic guitar and wearing a harmonica rack 'round his neck, he nods at the applause.]

Jackson: Thank you. Thank you, thank you. Yeah, now, I'm go'n' pick a little tune heah. Uh, this heah's called the Trouble and Mis'ry Blues. [clears throat, strikes a chord, sings:]
Well, I woke up this mornin'!
And the coffee was cold!
And the baby was cryin'!
So I went to the city!
And a car ran over my foo-oot!


Waaaaaahhhhhh! Waaaaaahhhhhh!


And I asked the White Man for a jooo-ooob!
And he wouldn't give me no jooo-ooob!
And I got holes in my shoooes!
And I got holes in my feet, toooooo!


Waaaaaahhhhhh! Waaaaaahhhhhh!


And I got five dollars for the winter!
And the rats is gnawin' on mama's old church hat!
Waaaaaahhhhhh! Waaaaaahhhhhh!


And I was blind yesterday ...
I'm blind today ...
Go'n' be blind tomorrow!

[Last two words sung with a spectacular falsetto which draws genuine applause as the song winds down.]

Herbie: All right!

Jackson: Thank you, thank you.

[More applause. Suki, tray in hand, pats Jackson on the shoulder and leads the grinning, nodding musician off.]

Suki: Great stuff, man. You know, I loved Sidney Poitier in "The Defiant Ones." He was great. Sit down, baby.

[During a short musical interlude from the band, we center briefly on Gregory and Francesca snapping their fingers and discussing Jackson's performance intensely.]

Gregory: ... like, they are SO real.

Francesca: Me, too. I think we all have so much to learn from Negroes.

Herbie: And now! The mohel of the boils of society! A cat who cuts through the maladies of truth! This cat is too wigged out for the idiot box. You'll never catch him on Steve Allen, man! Here he is, the world's most paranoid hip comic, Shelley Bayless.

[Accompanied by music and applause, Shelley -- a cigarette-wielding Lenny Bruce imitator wearing sunglasses, dark suit and skinny necktie -- rises and takes center stage, shaking like an addict, oozing paranoia and passive-aggression. The jazz musicians dig him with much enthusiasm but the crowd never cracks a smile.]

Shelley: Hi. Hey, man. Ha! Like, I wore the shades 'cuz candles are too bright, ya dig?

Herbie: Yeah!

Shelley: What's the matter, man? Didn't sell enough life insurance today? Is that it? Huh? Whaddya lookin' at? What? [defiantly holds up his cigarette to Gregory, shaking] Cigarette, man! Huh? What are you, a cop? Huh? What you--? [to the crowd] You all cops, right? You're ALL cops and you don't know it, man! Ya see? That's all right. Ooh. Cool, dog. Right. I - I thought I was diminishing but I guess I was augmenting.

[Shelley turns to the musicians who crack up at this use of music lingo and growl appreciatively.]

Shelley: That's right. Hey! Dig the duuude. The cat over there. Dig the scales on him, huh? That's a major? [consults the band who growl agreement] That is. That's a major. Hey, hey-hey, ya see, all you cats who dig like Eisenhower, ya know, like, uh, ya know, who don't share the doogie with the skeezo, you know, with the band, ya dig?

[Musicians growl appreciatively.]

Shelley: What do you want, man, huh? What? You want jokes? You want imitations? What do you want? Marlon Brando? [removes sunglasses, lapses into a flawless Brando impersonation] You wuz mah brother, Charlie, you shoulda looked out for me--

[Partially drowned out by laughter and applause, he mumbles dialogue from the 1954 film "On the Waterfront" with Brandoesque incoherence:]

Shelley: Don't you remember that night in the Garden? You came down and said, "Kid, it ain't your night, we're goin' for the price on Wilson." My night! [ends imitation, to the crowd] That what you want, man? That what you want? [puts sunglasses back on] Huh? Well, dig, man -- if Hugh Stoll knew what was copacetic about reiterating the coda, you could bang it up from across the street, man. Ya dig? Ya dig? Because I know the truth of the-- By the time you find out, you know, it - it'll be in my vein and underground, you know, 'cuz you can't stop it.

Herbie: Wow, Cecille! Shelley Bayless.

[Music, applause. Shelley nods and bows jerkily as he pats himself down, then exits.]

Herbie: Now, here's a crazy chick. This chick swings with a different drummer -- like, wow, Zen poetry in motion, man. Let's all groove on the dance moves of Isadora Schwartz. Wild baby, wild.

[Music. Bone thin, black-clad dancer Isadora Schwartz breezes into view and strikes an improbable double-jointed pose with her arms around her head and both hands on her breasts.]

Isadora: [thick Noo Yawk accent] I am a leaf! Tawssed in the wind! [her hands waft like birds' wings from her breasts and she uncoils herself] Oh, thou wind! Blow! Blow! Blow me away! [spins and strikes another pose, pointing into the crowd] The first demand of ontological empiricism is to find yawself! [mimes digging, manages an unkempt leap and acts out the following interjections with dance moves] Depression! Down! Down! Down! [sinks to the floor] Knife! [mimes slitting her wrists and bleeding] Blood! Bleed! Black! Black! Black! Blow! Death. [rises] Life. I dance like the wind. The wind!

[Isadora dances like the wind - after a moment, Herbie is so inspired, he leaps from his stool and duets with her - they kneel on the floor whipping their arms about as if blown by the wind. Much fluttering by the flute during all this. The dance ends with Isadora on her knees, arms outstretched and palms up, her face entirely covered by her long hair. Herbie returns to his stool and picks up his bongos. Much applause. Isadora exits.]

Herbie: Crazy! All right, crazy! And now let's pause for the cause with a little musical interlude, cats and chicksssss!

[During the music, we isolate each of the players in an oval as superimposed texts and the narrator's booming voice describe their fates. First up is customer Gregory, in snobbish profile, cigarillo clenched in his teeth.]

Narrator V/O: Gregory Collyer - Went on to become the Love Dentist.

[Customer Francesca looks down pensively.]

Narrator V/O: Francesca Robinson [text says "Richardson"] - Now owns and operates a dog grooming parlor in Tampa, Florida.

[Bongo playing Herbie grins broadly.]

Narrator V/O: Herbie Gleason - Now runs a parking lot art gallery in Laguna Beach.

[Poet Rodney, lips pursed, holds a tiny teacup.]

Narrator V/O: Rodney Chernin - Designer of SANS-A-BELT Slacks.

[Dancer Isadora grooves quietly to the jazz music.]

Narrator V/O: Isadora Schwartz - Now works with hyperkinetic children.

[Blind Negro Jackson, oblivious, eyes shut, openmouthed grin.]

Narrator V/O: Blind Negro Josh Jackson - Now opening act for Professor Irwin Corey.

[Waitress Suki reads her book.]

Narrator V/O: Suki Bird - Killed in Vietnam.

[Comedian Shelley lights one cigarette with another.]

Narrator V/O: Shelley Bayless -- Del Kaz -- plays El Gallo in The Fantasticks.

[Flamenco guitarist Juan sucks on an injured finger.]

Narrator V/O: Juan Kutner - Went on to write "American Graffiti."

[Applause. Dissolve to blue neon sign that reads: PLATOS CAVE. Image goes out of focus.]

Submitted Anonymously

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