Saturday Night Live Transcripts
Special: Saturday Night Live in the ’80s: Lost and Found
Saturday Night Live in the ’80s: Lost and Found
Note: You’ll notice occasionally that I’ve failed to identify a voiceover or a sketch and its air date. If anyone can fill in one or more of these holes, please post the addendums to the Message Board. Thanks!
[ open on Dana Carvey seated before a fuzzy television screen background, speaking in his Johnny Carson voice ]
Dana Carvey: For those of you at home right now, you’re watching a thing called a television. And we’re broadcasting images that you can see![ Dana Carvey’s image spins inward and disappears in a swirl that opens onto the 80’s history of “Saturday Night Live” as spread across a road map ] [ pan east across the road map to the title graphic ] [ pan east across map to a 1980-81 cast graphic, hold, then pan right to a framed live photo of Billy Crystal ]
Billy Crystal: Even though I’d had a successful run on “Soap,” and so on and so forth, I had the chance to do what I really felt I could do, and what I always wanted to do.
Fernando: You look maah-velous!
Barbara Bach: You look pretty good, yourself.
Fernando: Well, thank you, darling. I’m blushing inside. My temperature is rising, it isn’t surprising. I’ll tell you that, right now. [ looks over at Ringo Starr ] You know what I’m saying to you?[ Ringo is ready to speak, but Fernando quickly loses interest and returns his focus to Barbara ]
Fernando: Barbara —[ Ringo remains stunned that he’s not the one being interviewed ] [ pan north up the road map on a Gumby stretched across the ground, continue upward to a 1981-82 cast graphic, then cut right to a framed live photo of Joe Piscopo ]
Joe Piscopo: They still weren’t sure about Eddie Murphy. And we campaigned — a couple of us said, “This is the guy. You need this guy on the show.” And Eddie was so great. They made him a featured player.[ cut to Frank Sinatra and Stevie Wonder singing at the piano in Ebony & Ivory, 05/22/82 ]
Stevie Wonder: [ singing ]“I am dark, and you are light.”
Frank Sinatra: [ singing ]“You are blind as a bat, and I have sight!
Side by side, you are my amigo,
Negro, let’s not fiiiiiiiight!”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus: I didn’t know how it worked. I didn’t know how to get writers to write for me. I didn’t know you had to get writers to write for you. That took me some time to figure out. Oh, yeah, you need to.. make, sort of, these alliances. [ chuckles ] Like “Survivor.”[ cut to Julia Louis-Dreyfus ignoring her guests Eddie Murphy and Jamie Lee Curtis on “The Julia Show”, 02/18/84 ]
Julia Louis-Dreyfus: [ standing ] Do you think my hips are getting too wide? I don’t. Nobody does! They’re not.[ pan north on the road map along railroad track to reveal graphics of “I Married A Monkey”, Fernando and Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood, then pan east to a 1984-85 cast graphic, hold, then continue pan west, as a cab passes, and stop on a framed live photo of Jon Lovitz ]
Jon Lovitz: I really looked up to Phil as my, my, uh — you know, he became my older brother. We became like brothers. We were very, very close.[ cut to Harry the producer arguing with washed-up war actor Johnny O’Connor in Johnny O’Connor, 10/18/86 ]
Harry: I think you’re the worst actor I’ve ever seen, and I get five hundred letters a day telling me the same!
Johnny O’Connor: What’s the word on the street?
Martin Short: I grew up in a kind of laughter – fun family. And I thought, “Gee, that would – what a way to spend your life, laughing and looking good.[ cut to Ed Grimley bouncing around spastically as he plays the triangle in an Ed Grimley sketch, 1984-85 ] [ pan west across the road map, passing the Sweeney Sisters, then fall on a 1989-90 cast graphic pinned to the side of a saloon wall in the style of a Wanted poster. Pan upward on saloon to reveal Master Thespian and Buckwheat poking their heads out of the windows, then pan east across The Devil stretched across the ground, to fall on a framed live photo of Conan O’Brien. ]
Conan O’Brien: For a while, at “Saturday Night Live,” you don’t know if you’ve made it. I remembered a few times, Lorne has a joke that he sometimes pulls, I think, on newer talent. Every now and then, I’d pass him in the hallway, and Lorne would say, “Still with the show?”[ cut to Lorne Michaels in Rosanna Arquette’s dressing room in Next With The Producer, 11/08/86 ]
Lorne Michaels: What are you doing in that outfit?
Rosanna Arquette: [ laughs ] It’s for the “Neck With the Producer” sketch! [ hands him the script ]
Lorne Michaels: The “Neck With the Producer” sketch? [ reads ] Hmm.. you’d better get ready — this isn’t bad! I mean, it’s funny, and it makes an interesting point about the homeless.
Rosanna Arquette: [ quick save ] “Live, from New York, it’s Saturday Night!“
Kevin Nealon: Did you know that as many as 12 million Americans cannot read a road map? That’s right, 12 million. Now, I’m guilty of it myself. I really am. I’m terrible with a map. Did you ever have somebody show you where to go on a map? Did you? It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? I mean, you know, they’re trying to show you — hold on a second here. All right, okay. [ Laughter ] Okay, all right. You know, they look at your map, and they say, “Okay, here’s where you want to go. All right. Okay, well, it’s not on this map. What you want to do, though, is you want to come off of route 84 over here. You want to cut over to route 23. You’ll see a big hotel over there and some you can’t miss it. Take the map, though, just in case you get lost.” Right? Like you’re gonna get halfway there and ask somebody else for directions. Excuse me, I’m a little lost. I’m right here now.[ show the final moment of the Goodnights, 05/24/80, as the On Air sign goes off for the final time during the original cast’s reign ] [ cut to Lorne Michaels ]
Lorne Michaels: It had been my life for five years. And, you know, I’d given it, I think, I everything I had. So, on a certain level, I was relieved to not be doing it anymore. And at the same time, a big piece of my life was missing.[ cut to Tom Davis ]
Tom Davis: We were expecting the show to end.[ cut to Al Franken commentary on “Weekend Update with Chevy Chase”, 04/11/81 ]
Al Franken: After five golden years, Lorne decided to leave. And so did those close to him, including me, Al Franken. [ SUPER: “Al Franken” ] So, NBC had to pick a new producer. Now, most knowledgeable people, as you might imagine, hoped it would be me, Al Franken. [ SUPER: “Al Franken” ] But instead, without consulting the show’s staff or cast, NBC picked Jean Doumanian.
Lorne Michaels V/O: I got a call from Brandon. And he said that they were going to announce the next day that Jean was going to be taking over.
Laurie Zaks: Jean Doumanian was in charge of Talent at the time. She was booking the show.[ cut to Joe Piscopo ]
Joe Piscopo: We just heard that the original cast was leaving, that the great Lorne Michaels was leaving, and that they’re sweeping the comedy clubs for new cast members for “Saturday Night Live.”[ cut to Gilbert Gottfried walking the streets of New York in the short film, “Who is Gilbert Gottfried?”, 12/13/80 ]
Announcer: Depressed, despondent, tormented and, by now, wandering the streets aimlessly, Gilbert caught wind that “Saturday Night Live” was scouring the land for performers.[ cut to Gilbert Gottfried, with bird on his left shoulder ]
Gilbert Gottfried: They had, like hundreds of, uh, videos on different comedians.[ cut to Gail Matthius ]
Gail Matthius: We auditioned for eight hours.
NBC Executive: I’m in power to offer you a contract with “Saturday Night Live.” Are you a fan of the show?
Gail Matthius: Ah sure am![ cut to Gail Matthius ]
Gail Matthius: And the vibe in the waiting room – if looks could kill![ cut back to “Virgin Search”, 12/20/80 ]
NBC Executive: There’s just one thing. You are a virgin, aren’t you?
Gail Matthius: [ excited ] I sure — [ realizes she’s not, tries to cover herself ] I — [ NBC Executive turns away ] Wait![ cut to Denny Dillon ]
Denny Dillon: I actually had six auditions. And the last time I auditioned, I said, “If you have me in again, I’m gonna charge a cover.”[ cut to Joe Piscopo ]
Joe Piscopo: I can remember in the audition, I did: [ singing like Frank Sinatra ] “I don’t stand a ghost of a chance.”[ cut to Denny Dillon ]
Denny Dillon: For me, personally, I felt like my feet couldn’t touch the ground, because I had felt so excited.[ cut to James Brown’s medley performance, including “I Feel Good”, 12/13/80 ]
James Brown: [ singing ]“I feel good
I knew that I would
I feel good
I knew that I would.
I got you!”
Joe Piscopo: Gail Matthius did a character that was the pre-cursor to any “Valley Girl” character.[ cut to Vickie and Debbie hanging out at the mall in “Valley Girls”, 12/20/80 ]
Vickie: God, I’m bored to the max!
Debbie: You want to go back to Hutton’s and try on the makeup at the counter?
Vickie: No way! I was just in there, and I was trying on some eye shadow, you know, and stuff? And, um, the lady comes up to me and goes, [ mimicking with a high-pitched squeal ] “May I help you?” [ rolls her eyes ] Rude City! I told her to bite the bag, and left.[ cut to Tim Kazurinsky ]
Tim Kazurinsky: Joe Piscopo, Gilbert Gottfried, Gail Matthius, were very funny. Denny — they had some really terrific people.[ cut to Pinky and Leo Waxman interviewing Elliot Gould on “What’s It All About?”, 11/15/80 ]
Pinky Waxman: Well, you know the one thing I love about Barbara?
Leo Waxman: What?
Pinky Waxman: She never got a nose job. [ to Elliot ] You know, my daughter, Jules? She wants one. I don’t know what to tell her sometimes. Maybe you could talk to her, Elliot.[ Elliot Gould isn’t sure how to respond, so he takes a sip from his drink instead ]
Leo Waxman: Excuse me. Pinky, sweetheart, the man is a big celebrity. He can’t talk to your daughter about a nose job!
Pinky Waxman: Of course, of course, he can’t!
Joe Piscopo V/O: Charlie Rocket, a very formidable character actor.[ cut to Charles Rocket on Fifth Avenue in “The Rocket Report”, 11/22/80 ]
Charles Rocket: Hi, Charles Rocket, on Fifth Avenue! We’re gonna meet some people that are total strangers. Let’s find out what they’re like. Will they be rude? Will they be warm? Will they be friendly? Will they be happy to see us? Well, we’re gonna find out in just a minute or two, as we actually go ahead and meet some total strangers. [ approaches some strangers ] Tourists, are you?[ cut to a later portion of the segment, a Cuban couple speaking to Charles Rocket ]
Cuban Man: [speaks in Cuban, then translates ] It means, “How do you do?”
Charles Rocket: Okay, well, sounds like you’ve had a couple of drinks this afternoon, huh? [ chuckles ] [ cut to a later portion of the segment, an elderly man listening to Charles Rocket ]
Charles Rocket: You’re on drugs right now, aren’t you? [ the man looks curiously at Charles Rocket ] You’re on drugs right now. You look like a drug taker. [ the man shakes his head ] You don’t take drugs?
Elderly Man: No.
Charles Rocket: Ever have?
Elderly Man: No. [ amused ]
Charles Rocket: Well, gee.. what gives you that look? That sort of “drug taker’s” look?
Elderly Man: Well, because I’m very happy.[ cut to Neil Levy ]
Neil Levy: Eddie called me from the street – I don’t know, from a pay phone. And he just went on and on. And he just started making me laugh. So I figured, “You know what? I’ll have him in.” And he does a four-minute piece. And the talent was just shooting out of him. So, I took him to Jean, and she hired him as a featured player.[ cut to Raheem Abdul Mohammed during a Joe Piscopo Sports segment on “Weekend Update with Charles Rocket”, 11/15/80 ]
Raheem Abdul Mohammed: All I’m saying is that y’all stay on the hockey courts and the polo fields, and let us stay on the basketball courts. ‘Cause If God would have wanted whites to be equal to blacks, everybody’d have one of these. [ reaches under the desk and pulls up a boombox ] [ cut to David Sheffield ]
David Sheffield: Just, “I don’t give a damn. I don’t care if you watch me or not.” You got the sense that nothing would frazzle him. ‘Cause everybody else was trying real hard. Eddie looked like he wasn’t trying at all, and he was doing it.[ cut to Denny Dillon at the front of a bed filled with Elliot Gould and the cast in “Strange Bedfellows”, 11/15/80 ]
Denny Dillon: Live, from New York, it’s “Saturday Night!”[ dissolve to the opening montage for “SNL ’80” ] [ cut to Denny Dillon ]
Denny Dillon: The first show, I got to say, “Live from New York!” That was a really, really, really thrilling moment. And somebody, a friend of mine, took my picture off the television, and I still have it.
David Sheffield V/O: They must have been terrified, pushed out there in front of millions of people, trying to inherit the mantle of these geniuses who’d gone before them.[ cut to Barry Blaustein ]
Barry Blaustein: It was a different standard. So they didn’t have time to really nurture. And there was a pressure.[ cut to Queen’s performance of “Under Pressure”, 09/25/82 ]
Queen: [ singing ]“Pressure
Pushing down on me
Pressing down on you
No man asked for
That burns a building down
Splits a family in two
Puts people on the streets.”
Barry Blaustein V/O: The rumors of Jean’s demise began after the first show.[ cut to David Sheffield ]
David Sheffield: It was a very difficult time. Everybody second-guessing everybody. It wasn’t the feel-good disco ’70s anymore. It was the [ fuck ]-you ’80s.[ cut to Bill Murray trying to give a pep talk to the cast in “It Just Doesn’t Matter”, 03/07/81 ]
Ann Risley: The press hasn’t been overly kind.
Bill Murray: Yeah, I read that stuff: “SaturdayNight Live is Saturday Night Dead.”
Cast: [groans, winces, looks uncomfortable] Oh,come on. Geez.
Bill Murray: “From Yuks to Yecch.” [cast groansand wretches as if in pain] My favorite, though, is”Vile from New York.”
Cast: [groans] Please, Bill.
Bill Murray: [genuinely amused] Come on! It’s funny, it’s funny.[ cut to Gilbert Gottfried ]
Gilbert Gottfried: When it was announced that “Saturday Night Live” was going to be continuing with a whole new cast, this was an outrage. It was like if, during the height of Beatlemania, you were going to remove the Beatles and have a whole new group of Beatles.[ cut to Joe Piscopo ]
Joe Piscopo: I don’t think anybody could have followed — I don’t think Chaplin could have followed the original “Saturday Night Live” cast.[ cut to Frank Sinatra sitting in his dressing room after the Ronald Reagan inauguration in “Reagan’s Vice President”, 01/17/81 ]
Frank Sinatra: [ singing to himself ]“Start shootin’ the press
Yeah, they’re just in the way.”
David Sheffield V/O: Joe Piscopo was a stand-out because he was very versatile, and he was unintimidated by live TV.[ cut to Tim Kazurinsky ]
Tim Kazurinsky: Joe was very hot, very fast.[ cut to Gary Kroeger ]
Gary Kroeger: Piscopo — Joe Piscopo. What a great name![ cut back to Bill Murray trying to give a pep talk to the cast in “It Just Doesn’t Matter”, 03/07/81 ]
Bill Murray: Are you gonna definitely stick with “Joe Piscopo” as your name?
Joe Piscopo: Well, I was born with it, Bill. You know, it’s my name.
Bill Murray: Wow. [ considers this fact ] Well, whatever.[ cut to Gary Kroeger ]
Gary Kroeger: And he was a real working man’s comedian.[ cut to Joe Piscopo, Tim Kazurinsky and Gary Kroeger as The Three Stooges in “Three Stooges Self-Defense Class”, 05/12/84 ]
Curly: Hey, whaddya think of this, sista? [ slaps himself in the face and on the head a few times ] Ahh![ Curly then bounces his expansive stomach into the karate instructor’s stomach – “boing” sound effect. As he does, the impact causes the loose-fitting pants to slide down Joe Piscopo’s legs. Everyone in the sketch begins to laugh, as Piscopo struggles to pull his pants back up and Tim Kazurinsky ad-libs as Moe getting angry with Curly, swinging the iron menacingly. Naturally, Piscopo’s pants again fall to the floor. ]
David Sheffield V/O: We got no adult supervision. We got no instruction in how the show was run.[ cut to Gilbert Gottfried ]
Gilbert Gottfried: She always struck me as the type of woman who would watch a Marx Brothers’ movie and go, “Well, I liked Margaret Dumont, but who are those weird gentlemen running around?”[ cut to Bob Tischler ]
Bob Tischler: She was put in, I think, an untenable position. Just to follow Lorne, to follow that first five years. It was such a strong cast, and such a strong writing staff. It was a very hard act to follow.[ cut to Cowboy Junkies’ performance of “Sweet Jane”, 02/18/89 ]
Cowboy Junkies: [ singing ]“Anyone who’s ever had a heart
Wouldn’t turn around and break it
And anyone who’s ever played a part
Wouldn’t turn around and hate it
Oh, Sweet, Sweet Jane.”
Neil Levy V/O: It was so unhip. I mean, it came from being the hippest show in the world to just being the most unhip show.[ cut to Margaret Oberman ]
Margaret Oberman: They were certainly not getting the caliber of, like, movie star hosts that they’d had. And that’s how you could sort of tell, you know, what the real estate value was.[ quick clip of Richard Dreyfuss being devoured by the Land Shark during his “Goodnights”, 05/13/78 ] [ cut to Neil Levy ]
Neil Levy: I heard that Madeline Kahn was doing the “Today” show. And I went down, and she saw me, she remembered me, from the original show. She said, “Neil, how are you?” I said, “I’m great.” Kiss, kiss. “How’s it going? What are you up to?” I said, “Well, actually, I’m working on ‘Saturday Night Live’.” She literally was on her way. She was walking away. She knew exactly why I was there. She was gone.[ quick clip of the cast joining Madeline Kahn at Home Base during her “Goodnights”, 05/08/76 ] [ cut to Gilbert Gottfried ]
Gilbert Gottfried: We did suck! Let’s not be — I can’t blame it all on the press. The show sucked![ cut to Gilbert Gottfried as a police officer who rushes into Fay’s (Debbie Harry) apartment after shooting her date in “King Kong Syndrome”, 02/14/81 ]
Police Officer: You all right, Miss?
Fay: Yeah, I’m all right. But your bullets have killed my date![ cut to Gilbert Gottfried ]
Neil Levy: Oh! You know, you’re reminding me — I’m starting — my esophagus is going into spasm. It was — it was just — it got worse and worse. When Charlie Rocket said — you know, cursed, on the air.[ cut to Charles Rocket replying to Charlene Tilton in “Goodnights”, 02/21/81 ]
Charles Rocket: Oh man, that’s the first time I’ve been shot in my life. I’d like to know who the [ fuck ] did it.[ cut to Neil Levy ]
Neil Levy: Jane Crowley, the censor, she said, “He said [ fuck ]!” Her face turned red, and that beehive, the little powder pigeon. I thought she was gonna leap over the console, and, like, pull the cables. And that’s what when we started feeling our days are numbered.
[ cut to Gilbert Gottfried ]
Gilbert Gottfried: It became a good excuse. Once again, people forget the “F” word slipped through on the original cast of the show. But because that show was doing better, you know, the hearing isn’t as good.[ cut to Fine Young Cannibals’ performance of “She Drives Me Crazy”, 03/13/89 ]
Fine Young Cannibals: [ singing ]“She drives me crazy, ooh ooh
Like no one else, ooh ooh
She drives me crazy, and I can’t help myself.”
[ cut to Al Franken commentary on “Weekend Update with Chevy Chase”, 04/11/81 ]
Al Franken: Now, I don’t want to be cruel to Jean — because it might make you think less of me, Al Franken. [ SUPER: “Al Franken” ] Anyway, it took NBC 12 shows to figure out their horrendous mistake. And a month ago, they fired Jean.[ cut to Gilbert Gottfried ]
Gilbert Gottfried: I kind of feel like that season of “Saturday Night Live,” You could have gotten anybody off the street. You needed a sacrificial lamb. This would appease the gods and make it okay.[ cut to Tom Davis ]
Tom Davis: That’s showbiz, you know. It’s not a good time unless somebody gets hurt.[ commercial break ]