Saturday Night Live Transcripts

  Season 19: Episode 6

93f: Rosie O'Donnell / James Taylor

Schiller's Reel

The Tramp ... Norm MacDonald
The Old Man ... Bernie Friedman
The Employer ... Tom Schiller


A short video made to resemble a black and white silent film, complete with scratches, blemishes and abrupt edits, as if we were watching an ancient print from the 1930s that has seen a lot of wear and had to be patched and spliced together. All the film's action is set to a soundtrack that consists entirely of MUSIC from Charlie Chaplin's 1936 film MODERN TIMES.

FADE IN on a view of two river-spanning New York City bridges silhouetted in the sunrise.


PAN OVER to another view of the nearest bridge.


CUT TO a young TRAMP sleeping on the ground under the bridge, partially protected by a cardboard box, his head resting on a rolled-up blanket. (The MUSIC is the Puccini-like Chaplin melody that later became famous as the song "Smile.") Steam rises from a nearby grate. Hubcaps, tin cans and other garbage are littered all around. The Tramp awakens with a yawn and sits up, eyes blinking in the sunlight. He is unshaven and dresses as a homeless man might have dressed during the Great Depression, with a thin dirty overcoat and a ragged cap. He rubs his eyes, strokes his chin thoughtfully, and looks around.

CUT TO a second tramp, an OLD MAN, standing nearby, amidst the trash and with the river as a backdrop. He rubs his hands for warmth as the Tramp, carrying a blanket, rises and joins him. The Old Man glances at the Tramp and shakes his head sorrowfully. The Tramp places his blanket around the Old Man's shoulders.

After an abrupt edit, the Tramp hangs a crudely-made cardboard sign on himself that reads: "WILL WORK FOR FOOD" -- the two tramps peer down at the pathetic sign for a moment and then exchange resigned glances. The Old Man watches sadly as his younger friend trudges off.


The Tramp looks grim and haggard as he stands by the side of the road, holding his "WILL WORK FOR FOOD" sign steady in the wind.

DISSOLVE TO the Tramp in the same position, some time later. He shifts his weight on his feet several times while glancing around, embarrassed and uncomfortable. He fixes his eyes dejectedly on the ground for a moment. To his surprise, when he looks up, an automobile is pulling to a stop beside him. A glimmer of hope in his face, he moves to the car and bends over to speak to the bearded driver (his future EMPLOYER) through the passenger window. The barely-glimpsed Employer makes an offer to the Tramp who nods in agreement. The Employer jerks a thumb toward the back seat as the Tramp removes his sign and drops it on the roadside. With a grin, the Tramp hurries into the back seat and closes the door behind him. The car pulls away.

DISSOLVE TO a LONG SHOT of the swanky, awning-covered front door of a luxury apartment house. The Tramp and his Employer arrive. The Employer graciously allows the Tramp to go first as they enter the building.


The officious Employer, seen clearly for the first time, is a thin, gray-haired, bespectacled man with an oversized beard that droops far below his chin (like an old silent movie villain). He wears a business suit and politely offers the Tramp a chair at a wooden table in the middle of the room. The Tramp, still wearing his cap but having shed his overcoat, wears a dusty vest over an old white shirt. He nods gratefully and sits as his Employer pulls the chair out for him.

The Employer bids the Tramp to wait and exits into an adjacent kitchen as the Tramp adjusts his cap, rubs his hands, licks his lips, and grins happily at the thought of food. To the sound of heralding trumpets, the Employer returns a long moment later carrying, not food, but a huge stack of papers which he places on the table next to the instantly disappointed Tramp. The Employer shows the Tramp an ink pad and a rubber stamp -- and demonstrates how to use them. The Tramp reluctantly begins rubber stamping the entire stack of papers, one sheet at a time. The Employer monitors the Tramp's work for a moment, then exits into the kitchen. The Tramp continues to stamp away as the film speeds up to FAST MOTION (accompanied by the uptempo music Chaplin used for his film's fast-moving assembly line sequence).

This leads directly into a FAST MOTION MONTAGE of the Tramp doing various kinds of work all around the Employer's apartment:

The Tramp, a little annoyed, straightens a framed picture on the wall as the unsatisfied Employer directs him to turn it first one way and then another.

The Tramp sits at the newspaper-covered table and shines shoes as the Employer arrives with an armful of footwear and begins stacking it next to him.

Aerial view of the Tramp, seated at the table which is covered with a pile of bills and receipts, pecking away at a calculator.

The Tramp, hot iron in hand, wipes his brow as he slaves away over an ironing board. The Employer, draped with folded clothes, stands nearby urging him on.

The Tramp, on a ladder, paints the apartment's ceiling trim.

A brief shot of the Tramp wiping his brow as he continues to rubber stamp the huge stack of papers.

The Tramp runs a vacuum cleaner over the floor while his Employer, hunched over, points to where he should vacuum next.

The Tramp, squinting in the sunlight, dusts some Venetian blinds with a feather duster.

CLOSE-UP of the Tramp, a jeweler's loupe in one eye, repairing a wristwatch. The Employer impatiently reaches in, takes the watch and replaces it with another, to the Tramp's annoyance.

The Tramp, seated at the table in front of an old-fashioned typewriter, pecks away uncertainly as his Employer paces in the background, giving dictation.

The Tramp, sitting on the floor, hammers some woodwork as his Employer stands by, supervising.

The Tramp cleans a set of dentures with a toothbrush.

Another brief shot of the Tramp dusting the blinds.

Another brief shot of the Tramp at the typewriter as his Employer pulls a sheet out of the machine.

A brief shot of the Tramp as he finishes rubber stamping the stack of papers.

Another brief shot of the Tramp cleaning the dentures as his irate Employer, a handkerchief clutched to his mouth, bursts in from the kitchen, shakes an angry fist at him, points to his own mouth, checks his watch impatiently, etc. The Tramp gives him a quick look and goes right on brushing.

The MONTAGE ENDS as the music tempo and the film speed return to near-normal with a CLOSE SHOT of a tiny model ship being raised in a glass bottle.

PULL BACK to reveal that it is the Tramp, seated at the table, who has righted the ship. Beside him, his satisfied Employer pats him happily on the shoulder. The Tramp grins, then points to his own mouth and rubs his stomach to indicate that he is hungry. The Employer looks quizzical, raises a finger to urge patience, then with another supportive pat on the shoulder, heads into the kitchen, pausing briefly at the door to glance back at the Tramp with a sinister look. The Tramp again rubs his hands expectantly and licks his lips, taking a handkerchief from his pocket and tucking it into his collar like a bib. More lip licking and hand rubbing.

After a CUT, the Employer returns wearing chef's hat and apron. He opens the kitchen door with a flourish and wheels in a fancy covered dinner tray.

CLOSE-UP: The cover is lifted (to the sound of a cymbal crash) and we ZOOM IN to reveal: a lone, dried-up hot dog in a cheap bun atop a folded napkin. No condiments or anything -- just a crappy little hot dog and a bun. We linger on this image for a moment as the MUSIC comments wryly.


A string of automobile headlights cruise down the street. We hear the "Smile" theme once more as the Employer's car pulls up to the side of the road and the Tramp, again wearing his overcoat, emerges from the back seat, shuts the door behind him, then stands aside and watches the car pull away. He raises an angry clenched fist at the departing car but then changes the gesture to a dismissive wave. Alone now, he peers off in the direction of the river.

CUT TO the Old Man, still rubbing his hands for warmth as he stands before a large metal trash barrel that glows with a burning fire. The river is behind him and the lights of another bridge are visible in the distance. He warmly greets the Tramp who, shaking his head in disgust, joins him at the barrel. After a pause, the Tramp taps the Old Man on the arm, glances around, reaches into an inside coat pocket, and pulls out a small white object. Grinning broadly, he shows it to the Old Man.

CUT TO CLOSE-UP: it's the hot dog and bun, wrapped in its napkin.

CUT BACK TO FULL SCENE: The smiling Tramp offers the food to the Old Man who takes it happily. But the Old Man's face falls as he pauses and stares at the food for a moment. Realizing he hasn't earned it, he quickly offers it back to the Tramp. With a great show of unconcern, the Tramp insists the Old Man eat it, taps his own stomach to indicate that he's had plenty already, and grandly waves off the offer. He then pulls out a toothpick and starts picking his teeth. The Old Man thinks it over and says "thank you." The Tramp stops picking his teeth and watches, a little forlornly, as the Old Man takes a huge bite out of the puny hot dog, chews it, and grins with obvious pleasure. The Tramp returns the toothpick to his mouth and peers into the fire with downcast eyes. The two men stand in the firelight and say nothing as we FADE OUT -- to the accompaniment of Chaplin's sad but hopeful music.


The crowd in Studio 8H applauds as the title card fades out. A moment later, we fade in on a hot dog of a different sort: G. E. Smith, who casually strums his guitar with a grin as, behind him, the SNL Band swings through a gentle jazz tune on its way to a commercial. ]

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