76e: Steve Martin / Kinky Friedman
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
[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
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
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,
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,
[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
In your Cheez Whiz TV dinner bathtub graveyard.
Not for me your drip-dry tuna casserole! [bongo rim
Not for me your gray-and-pink poodle FASCISM!
I'd rather roll in my own PUKE! [bongo]
Free and proud to smell.
This is poetry!
It does not NEED to rhyme!
Herbie: Genius! Ah, genius!
New line: colon!
Hear the sound!
Hear the sound! [bongo]
[Rodney pauses, unsure of the next word, mumbles to
himself, consults book.]
[Rodney resumes his rant, gesturing broadly:]
Rodney: Zoom! Zoom! Zoom!
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
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
[Suki moves off as we cut to Herbie, introducing the
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!
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!
And I got five dollars for the winter!
And the rats is gnawin' on mama's old church hat!
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
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
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
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
[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?
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
[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.
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
Narrator V/O: Rodney Chernin - Designer of
[Dancer Isadora grooves quietly to the jazz
Narrator V/O: Isadora Schwartz - Now works with
[Blind Negro Jackson, oblivious, eyes shut,
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
[Comedian Shelley lights one cigarette with
Narrator V/O: Shelley Bayless -- Del Kaz --
plays El Gallo in The Fantasticks.
[Flamenco guitarist Juan sucks on an injured
Narrator V/O: Juan Kutner - Went on to write
[Applause. Dissolve to blue neon sign that reads:
PLATOS CAVE. Image goes out of focus.]