SNL Transcripts: Live From New York: The First 5 Years of Saturday Night Live: 02/20/05


 Saturday Night Live Transcripts

  Special: Live From New York: The First 5 Years of Saturday Night Live

Live From New York: The First 5 Years of Saturday Night Live

…..Jimmy Fallon
…..Molly Shannon
…..Tim Meadows
…..Norm MacDonald
…..Dana Carvey
…..Conan O’Brien
…..Julia Louis-Dreyfus
…..Lorne Michaels
…..Al Franken
…..Rosie Shuster
…..Candace Bergen
…..Dan Aykroyd
…..Chevy Chase
…..Howard Shore
…..Anne Beatts
…..Eric Idle
…..Laraine Newman
…..Tom Schiller
…..Garrett Morris
…..Alan Zwiebel
…..Herb Sargent
…..Barbara Gallagher
…..Don Pardo
…..Craig Kellem
…..Neil Levy
…..Dick Ebersol

[ open on Beatles Offer, 04/24/76 ]

Lorne Michaels: Hi. I’m Lorne Michaels, the producer of “Saturday Night.”

[ cut to opening of Gilda Answers Audience Questions, 02/25/78 ]

Gilda Radner: Hi, I’m Gilda Radner.

[ cut to opening of Weekend Update with Jane Curtin ]

Jane Curtin: Good evening, I’m Jane Curtin.

[ cut to Dan Aykroyd commentary on Weekend Update ]

Dan Aykroyd: I’m Dan Aykroyd.

[ cut to opening of White Guilt Relief Fund, 02/28/76 ]

Garrett Morris: I’m Garrett Morris.

[ cut to opening of John Belushi’s Dream, 03/12/77 ]

John Belushi: Hi, I’m John Belushi.

[ cut to opening of Weekend Update with Chevy Chase ]

Chevy Chase: I’m Chevy Chase.

[ cut to opening of The New Guy, 03/19/77 ]

Bill Murray: Hello, I’m Bill Murray.

[ cut to Laraine Newman closing a Weekend Update satellite report ]

Laraine Newman: This is Laraine Newman, saying —

[ cut back to close of Gilda Answers Audience Questions, 02/25/78 ]

Gilda Radner: “Live, from New York, it’s “Saturday Night”!

[ dissolve to opening montage of “Live From New York: The First 5 Years of Saturday Night Live” ]

Jimmy Fallon: When I was, like, a kid, me and my sister would imitate the Wild and Crazy Guys. [ imitates Wild and Crazy Guys ] “Let’s go to Statue of Liberty to get birth control devices.” You know? Like, my grandfather’s like, “What are you teaching these kids?”

[ cut to Georg toasting Yortuk in Wild and Crazy Guys!, 04/22/78 ]

Georg Festrunk: We are two wild and crazy guys!

Molly Shannon: I have such fond memories of seeing my father, like, roar with laughter. And it was a way to connect, and this opening of a world that was brand new to me.

[ cut to Julia Child bleeding in The French Chef, 12/09/78 ]

Julia Child: Oh! Oh, God, it’s throbbing! [ Laughter ]

Tim Meadows: You weren’t used to seeing a black guy get angry at a white guy in a comedy sketch. So, it was sort of, like, empowering.

[ cut to Interviewer interviewing Mr. Wilson in Racist Word Association Interview, 12/13/75 ]

Interviewer: I think you’re qualified for this job. How about a starting salary of $5,000?

Mr. Wilson: Your mama!

Norm MacDonald: I loved Laraine Newman. Reminded me of the girls that you could actually get, instead of TV girls.

[ cut to opening of E. Buzz Miller’s Exercise World, 04/15/78 ]

E. Buzz Miller: Say Hi to our viewers, Christy.

Christy Christina: Hi! [ giggles ]

Dana Carvey: When “Saturday Night Live” premiered, yeah, it was just like they were the coolest of the cool. They were literally the Beatles of comedy.

[ cut to the Earl of Sandwich approaching Lord Douchebag in Lord Douchebag, 05/24/80 ]

Earl of Sandwich: Douchebag!

Conan O’Brien: And the sense of humor is so — it was the way that you were funny with your friends in the lunchroom. It wasn’t anything that you’d seen on TV before.

[ cut to Wolverines, 10/11/75, as the Immigrant looks puzzled for a moment, then repeats the Professors gasp, clutches his chest, and throws himself on the floor ]

Conan O’Brien: I just remember thinking how cool I was to be able to stay up so late and watch this funny stuff on television.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus: I sort of felt a part of the irreverence. I was getting the jokes, too. I was very mature. You know.

[ cut to Spokeswoman speaking in Gidget’s Disease, 03/12/77 ]

Spokeswoman: Really enough to make you want to puke your guts out. [ Laughter ] [ pull out on full title card, zoom in on early black-and-white photo of Lorne Michaels ]

Lorne Michaels: At that point in my life, for better, for worse, I was just completely uncompromising.

[ cut to Weekend Update with Chevy Chase ]

Chevy Chase: Let’s take a brief look back at 1975, shall we? [ turns his head to look back at “1975” on the screen ] [ cut to Loudon Wainwright III’s performance of “Bicentennial”, 11/15/75 ]

Loudon Wainwright III: [ singing ]“Hey, we’re gonna have an anniversary
Yes, it’s gonna be a bicentennial.
Hey, America’s having a birthday
Gonna be 200 years old
Isn’t it wonderful?”

Al Franken: You got to go back to 1975. We were still in Vietnam, and Nixon’s resignation was still fresh.

[ cut to Final Days, 05/08/76 ]

President Richard Nixon: You know I’m not a crook, Henry. You know that I’m innocent.

Rosie Shuster: We were children of the ’60s. We’d come out of the pill, and free love, and sex, drugs, rock ‘N’ roll, but also out of civil rights and feminism, and there was nothing on the airwaves that fed back to us the culture we were living. Movies had done it, rock ‘n’ roll had done it, but television was way behind.

[ cut to Patti Smith’s performance of “My Generation”, 04/17/76 ]

Patti Smith: [ singing ]“Talking about my generation.”

Candace Bergen: If you could see who ran the network in those days, it was really entrenched bureaucracy, and the suits and the ties.

[ cut to Fred Silverman sketch, 12/02/78 ]

Fred Silverman: Can’t believe that I had to cancel nine shows. And they were terrible shows! I don’t understand how they fail.

Dan Aykroyd: The only thing out there were shows that had these, sort of, sketch sensibilities. You know, they were joke machines – We weren’t a joke machine – while we were a concept machine, a scene machine.

[ cut to The Bees, 10/18/75 ]

Paul Simon: Oh, my goodness. I’m really sorry. The Bees number’s cut!

Jane Curtin: What?

Dan Aykroyd: Aw, shucks!

Rosie Shuster: I don’t think they had a lot of confidence in this show. I mean, I don’t think they really understood any more than we did what was about to happen.

Chevy Chase: We went in with no aspirations, no sense that this would go anywhere. And that we had a chance, at least for a year, to parody and take down television.

Rosie Shuster: And, you know, the big question was, “Now what?”

[ cut to Elvis Costello’s performance of “Watching the Detectives”, 12/17/77 ]

Elvis Costello: [ singing ]“Nice girls, not one with a defect
Cellophane shrink wrapped so-correct
Red dogs under illegal legs.”

Howard Shore: April 1st of 1975, I began moving from my room at the Chateau Marmont. Before we knew it, we were in New York. And Lorne and Tom Schiller were living at the Plaza.

Tom Schiller: He was monomaniacal about it. Everything he said was about “The Show.” “The Show.” And “What show,” I thought. You know?

Lorne Michaels: Since I didn’t know anyone in New York, Marilyn Miller, who I’d known as a writer on Lily’s show said, “You should look up Michael O’Donoghue.”

Chevy Chase: O’Donoghue was the managing editor of “The Lampoon” when they put it out with the cover showing a dog and a gun saying, “If you don’t buy this magazine, we’ll shoot this dog.” Michael was living with a woman named Anne Beatts.

Anne Beatts: I rather audaciously told him how much I disliked the Lily Tomlin specials, and that I preferred Sonny and Cher. And why he wanted to hire me, I can’t imagine.

Chevy Chase: I was in a line for Monty Python’s “Holy Grail.” “We are the knights who say ‘Nee’.” You know. And next to me was Lorne. And we immediately hit it off.

Lorne Michaels: So I offered him a writing job. And he was torn, ’cause he wanted to be a performer. And I couldn’t guarantee that he would be in the cast. He and O’Donoghue knew each other, so this was a natural chemistry there.

Chevy Chase: Tony Hendra was putting together something called “National Lampoon’s Lemmings.” And he’d called in a ringer from Chicago’s Second City, and that was Belushi. John was, without a doubt, the star of the show.

Lorne Michaels: Everybody thought it would be a good idea if I met John. I met John. He told me that he didn’t do television. We didn’t hit it off. Gilda, who also knew John, said he has a — as he does, you know, a real sweet side.

Anne Beatts: Gilda was in New York doing the “National Lampoon” show. So she was someone that was, like, part of the family already. Bill [Murray] was also somebody that we were really keen on Lorne hiring, but instead, he wanted to hire this Canadian guy that we were suspicious of. This Aykroyd fellow. Dan had just come in from Toronto on a motorcycle the size of a building.

Dan Aykroyd: Once Lorne saw Belushi and I together, that he didn’t like. He saw a power structure there that might challenge his authority. Franken and Davis and Gilda were sort of lobbying, and convinced him to hire us.

Marilyn Miller: I knew Franken and Davis in L.A. Because all the young people hung out at the Comedy Store.

Al Franken: She had paid me to play tennis with her. Kind of humiliating. But I had no money.

Eric Idle: Franken and Davis were like a classic comedy writing duo, you know. But they were always, like, whacked out of their skulls.

Al Franken: Tom and I were the only writers that Lorne hired that he hadn’t met. And to this day, we believe that if he had met us, we would not have been hired.

Anne Beatts: Laraine had already been cast.

Lorne Michaels: I knew Laraine Newman from “The Lily Tomlin Show.”

Laraine Newman: Gilda and I watched the auditions. And boy, am I glad I didn’t have to audition.

Barbara Gallagher: The audition, at least 400 people.Tom Schiller: People like Jane Curtin came in.

Lorne Michaels: Jane looked like she belonged on television. She had a face that was sort of built for parody.

Barbara Gallagher: Garrett, by the way, Garrett Morris, he was a writer to begin with. And Lorne wanted to put him on the air.

Garrett Morris: Lorne put out the word that he wanted a black writer. And being crazy, you know, he didn’t know me from Adam. I must have looked — I don’t know. He said, “You’re hired,” right?

Tom Schiller: Alan Zweibel, one of the most nervous guys in the world, came in.Alan Zweibel: I was a joke writer for Catskill comedians. This guy sits down next to me. And he said, “You’re the worst comedian I’ve ever seen in my life. How much money do you need to live?” So I said, “well, I’m making $2.75 an hour at the deli. Match it.”

Tom Schiller: It started growing like a molecular explosion. All areas. Herb Sargent was a teacher. And in the early days, he left a script out which gave the format of all the things, where there’s a character name, and then the dialogue, and then the stage direction. ‘Cause none of us knew how to really do that.

Herb Sargent: I didn’t teach them anything. They learned as they went along. I’d frown at something, but that was about it.

Rosie Shuster: Lorne had an eye for talent. It was like, it’s a picnic, and someone will bring the potato salad, someone will bring the — he had a sense of variety. He understood there needed to be some form of balance.Anne Beatts: It was a little like being Wendy on the Island of lost boys, in a way.

Lorne Michaels: For me, it was an incredibly exciting time. I mean, I was probably fearful of actually going on the air, ’cause I’d never really done a live television show. And, as I’ve said endlessly, we don’t go on because it’s ready, we go on because it’s 11:30. And that tends to be very clarifying.

[ cut to Wolverines, 10/11/75 ]

Professor: Repeat after me.

[ European Immigrant in tight-mouthed concentration, nods ]

Professor: I would like…..

European Immigrant: [ in thick accent ] I would like….

Professor: ….to feed your fingertips….

European Immigrant: [ in thick accent] ….to feed yur fingerteeps….

Professor: …to the wolverines.

European Immigrant: [ in thick accent ] ….to de wolver-eenes.

Professor: Next, I am afraid….

European Immigrant: [ in thick accent ] I em afred…

Professor: …we are out…

European Immigrant: [ in thick accent ] …we are out…

Professor: …of badgers.

European Immigrant: [ in thick accent ] …of badjurs.

Professor: Would you accept…

European Immigrant: [ in thick accent ] Would you accept…

Professor: …a wolverine…

European Immigrant: [ in thick accent ] …a wolver-eene…

Professor: …in it’s place?

European Immigrant: [ in thick accent ] …een es place.

Professor: Next, “Hey,” Ned exclaimed…

European Immigrant: [ in thick accent ] “Hey,” Ned asclaimed…

Professor: “let’s boil…

European Immigrant: [ in thick accent ] “let’s boil…

Professor: …the wolverines.”

European Immigrant: [ in thick accent ] …the wolver-eenes.”

Professor: Next…

[ The Professor suddenly gasps, clutches his chest, and falls off his chair to the floor, obviously stricken with a heart attack. The Immigrant looks puzzled for a moment, then repeats the Professor’s gasp, clutches his chest, and throws himself on the floor. ] [ Stage Manager enters the scene, peers at the two lifeless figures and looks into the camera and smiles. ]

Stage Manager: Live from New York.. it’s Saturday Night!

[ dissolve to opening credits of the very first episode ]

Announcer: NBC’s “Saturday Night.”

Barbara Gallagher: You know that story about “Saturday Night Live.” About the title. The show was called “Saturday Night Live.” And then Howard Cosell was coming on with his Ed Sullivan show. So he got on before we did, and he called his show, “Saturday Night Live.” So we couldn’t use it. So it was, “Live from New York, it’s ‘Saturday Night’.”

[ opening montage of the first episode continues ]

Announcer: The Not For Ready Primetime Players!

Don Pardo: I think it’s the only time that I ever flubbed anything. Herb Sargent, the next day, he said, “You know what you said at the opening? You said, ‘Not For Ready’ instead of ‘Ready For’.” I says, “I did?” I didn’t even realize it.

Craig Kellem: The Monday after the show, we all met in Lorne’s office. Now, looking at the ratings, it wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t terrific. So it completely amazed me when he looked up, and he said, “I guess we’re a hit.” And I thought to myself, “What is he talking about?”

Neil Levy: All the reviews were bad. I mean, it was just like, “This show is sophomoric. It’s puerile.” And he put them up on the wall, constantly. There was a whole bulletin board filled with bad reviews. And he just scoffed at them.

Dick Ebersol: That was the season that NBC fell to third for the first time in its history. If it had been the typical fall season in 1975, I could see us not having made it.

Lorne Michaels: I knew that if I could do the shows that I would watch, or that I thought was good, that it would be successful. I never questioned that it would be a hit if I could actually get it on.

[ commercial break ]

Next: I’m Chevy Chase And You’re Not

SNL Transcripts

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Author: Don Roy King

Don Roy King has directed fourteen seasons of Saturday Night Live. That work has earned him ten Emmys and fourteen nominations. Additionally, he has been nominated for fifteen DGA Awards and won in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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