Saturday Night Live Transcripts

  Season 3: Episode 13

77m: Art Garfunkel / Stephen Bishop

Andy Kaufman

... Art Garfunkel
British Man ... Andy Kaufman
... Lorne Michaels

[British Man -- wearing a yellow shirt, black tie and tails -- paces behind host Art Garfunkel who addresses the camera.]

Art Garfunkel: Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Andy Kaufman.

[Garfunkel gestures to Kaufman, leads the applause and departs. Kaufman, in character as British Man, acknowledges the applause, then bends over a portable phonograph and drops the needle on a record of noisy marching band music. After it plays for a few seconds, he lifts the needle and drops it at the beginning again. It plays for a few more seconds as British Man briefly moves his fists in rhythm with the beat before he lifts the needle again, shuts off the phonograph and steps forward to greet the audience.]

British Man: [with cultured British accent, briskly] All right, thank you very much. It's wonderful to be here and look out and see everyone's smiling faces. Everyone is feeling good? [cheers and applause] Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Well, well, you know, um, now that we've gotten more intimate with each other and feel more comfortable, I'd like to proceed with what I'm about to do. They told me that since there was only about twenty or twenty-five minutes left in the show tonight that since I've been on several times before, they - they trust me. The producers and the people who run the show - they said they trust me very much and that they would let me do anything I want. And I could have the rest of the time, if - if it takes that long.

So, uh, I was wondering what - what to do. What could I do in this - to fill up this twenty, twenty-five minutes? And-- Could I sing a song, do a dance? Then I thought, well, you know, before, I've been on the show, I've done characters, you know, like the little foreign man, foreign immigrant who goes [high-pitched, heavily accented voice of Foreign Man] "Thenk you very much. I'm very happy to be here." [British accent again] You know? And then I've done this American character, goes [American accent] "Hi, I'm Andy and hello, [waves] how are you? [sings] Oh, the cow goes moo!" [British accent again] You know. And, uh... I thought instead of doing that, why don't I just come out and be straight with you and just be myself? So, so that's what--

So, anyway, then I thought, well, what should I do? What should I do? I was at a loss for what to do to fill up the time. So I saw this book. It was lying-- Just a little while ago, I saw it lying around and it reminded me of when I was in school and this literature teacher gave me this book, told me to read it, said it was the greatest American novel ever written. And, uh, I take issue with that. I don't believe that it is. But I'd-- What I'd like to do is, tonight, is I'd like to read it to you. And then perhaps we could-- you could point out some subtleties I might have missed, in case, you know, if-if we have time to follow for discussion.

[picks up the book and looks at it] So, anyway, it's called - it's called The, uh, Great Gatsby -- it's by F. Scott Fitzgerald. And, uh, here it is. [opens book, begins to read aloud in a starchy near-monotone, making no eye contact with the audience] Chapter one. [clears his throat] "In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. 'Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,' he told me, 'just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had.' He didn't say any more but we've always been unusually communicative in a reserved way [coughing, restlessness, and nervous laughter from the audience which increases as the reading proceeds] and I understood that he meant a great deal more than that. In consequence I'm inclined to reserve all judgements, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores. The abnormal mind is quick to detect and attach itself to this quality when it appears in a normal person, and so it came about that in college I was unjustly accused of being a politician, because I was privy to the secret griefs of wild, unknown men. Most of the confidences were unsought, frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation or a hostile levity when I realized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon for the intimate revelations of young men or at least the terms in which they express them are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions.

[by now, the audience is booing loudly, heckling, etc.] Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope. I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested [suddenly makes eye contact with the audience and smiles as he says, snobbishly:] and I snobbishly repeat, [the audience cracks up at this but he continues without missing a beat] a sense of the fundamental decencies is parceled out unequally at birth. [licks his index finger and uses it to turn to page two] And, after boasting this way of my tolerance, I come to the admission that it has a limit. Conduct may be founded on the hard rock or the wet marshes, but after a certain point I don't care what it's founded on. When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that -- [audience heckles and grows unruly again] I felt that I wanted the world to be ... in uniform and at a sort of moral attention for--"

[audience has grown very surly - British Man stops reading, annoyed] All right, now, look! Let's - let's keep it down, please, because, you know, we have a long way to go. [holds up the book and flips the pages - audience laughs - heckler in the balcony yells something - British Man looks up at him - calmly] Now, look, we're pressed for time, if you don't mind, all right?

[resumes reading] "When I came back from the East last autumn [audience groans, whistles, murmurs impatiently] I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever. I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart. [grandly, pointing a finger in the air] Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, Gatsby, who represented-- who-- [loses his place, finds it again] Only Gatsby was exempt from my reaction. Gats--" [audience boos loudly - British Man breaks off reading, holds up a hand in protest]

All right, now, look. All right, now, look. Now, wait a minute. All right, now, wait a minute, now, hold on! If I hear any more-- I want it quiet! If I hear one more sound, I'm going to close this book and forget about the whole thing! [thunderous cheers and applause - British Man looks surprised at their reaction, then decides that it's a show of support] All right, thank you very much. Thank you. All right. Thank you. [opens book again - heckler shouts something] All right, that's it -- you've made your bed, now lie in it! I'm going! That's it! Good night! I'm closing it -- forgetting about the whole thing!

[applause as British Man walks past the phonograph as if to exit - suddenly, he stops, turns, and comes back] I - No, I'm only fooling! I wouldn't do that to you! [opens the book, audience shrieks with laughter] I wouldn't -- I wouldn't do that to you! No, no. [resumes reading, grandly, pointing a finger in the air] "Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction. Gatsby, who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn. If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some--"

[audience grows unruly again - British Man breaks off reading] You know, you know, let me tell you something. I think what we need-- I think what-- I think what we need nowadays is - is more discipline. You know, when I was - when I was your age, I used to have to walk about seven miles to school. Spare the rod and spoil the child is what I say. Good huff around a woodshed would - would do some of you very good. All right? [opens book, finds his place] Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to continue reading. [audience groans - he reads] "If personality is an - is an--" [audience gets upset] I won't then! [applause] All right, what do you want me to do? [scattered applause, heckling] All right, good, good. [resumes reading] "Only Gatsby, the man-- If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some height--"

[producer Lorne Michaels enters, whispers in British Man's ear and quickly exits - British Man is outraged] What? What? All right, that is it! I have been asked to leave, ladies and gentlemen. [cheers and applause] I have been asked - I have been asked to leave. I have been asked to leave -- and I resent it! I was told I could take all the time I want and now they ask me to leave. Well, all right, I was going to read you the book and then I was going to play you the music record. But that's it! You don't want it, then fine -- I won't even do that! No! You don't want the record either, do you? [various audience members try to talk to him] Fine. All right. How many people - How many people want the record? How many people want the record? [cheers and applause] All right. You really--? Do you REALLY want the record? [louder cheers and applause] Do you really want the record? Or would you rather that I leave? All right. I'll do the record. But - but - but, first, first the book. [audience reacts negatively to this] All right, all right, all right. You want the record? [audience reacts positively to this] You want the record? All right, then we'll have the record. Then, we'll have-- No, all right. Enough is enough. All right.

[British Man goes to the phonograph, drops the needle on the record, then returns to face the audience, moving his fists rhythmically and expectantly as a loud hiss and a prolonged series of skips issue from the machine - suddenly, instead of the marching band music heard earlier, we hear:]

British Man's Voice: [starchy near-monotone from the phonograph] "Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction. Gatsby, who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn. ..."

[Laughter and applause. British Man gloats. Pull back and fade away.]

Submitted Anonymously

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