SNL Transcripts: Steve Martin: 10/23/76: Plato’s Cave



 Saturday Night Live Transcripts


  Season 2: Episode 5










76e: Steve Martin / Kinky Friedman

Plato’s Cave

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 aceiling lamp. We pull back and down to reveal atypically dark and smoky beatnik bar of the late 1950sas a superimposed text scrolls by.]

Narrator V/O: [reads the text] In the 1950s, acommon need to rebel against the Establishment drewtogether certain writers, artists, poets and thinkers,distinguished by their unconventional attitudes,behavior and clothing. They were known as … theBeatniks.

[A couple of signs (one in glowing blue neon) indicatethat we are in PLATO’S CAVE. Cigarette smoke rises tothe ceiling. Movie posters adorn the brick walls.Waitress Suki Bird stands beside a huge coffee urnreading a book. Bongo player Herbie Gleason wearsberet and sunglasses as he sits with other oddlydressed jazz musicians (bass, flute, piano) who playon a tiny upraised stage. We catch a glimpse of ablind black guitarist who sits at a table with afinger-snapping Jewish woman, as we pan down to ablack-clad couple seated at a nearby candlelit table.They smoke. Francesca, the more inexperienced one,listens raptly as Gregory, an urbane worldly gentlemanwith dark glasses and beard, finishes telling aonce-famous sick joke about a multiple amputeeboy:]

Gregory: Lord knows the kid can’t playbaseball, right? So, dig it, so, finally, she says tothe kid, “You know he can’t play baseball. Why do youwant him to come out?” The kid says “That’s okay, wejust want to use him for third base!”

[The two laugh.]

Francesca: I love sick humor. It really wigs meout. Like, I dig it when Lenny Bruce says we’re allpuntzes and we don’t know our shvukuses from ourshmups. Or when he says, “Go shtunk mud.”

[Suki the waitress leans in, book in hand, to correcther.]

Suki: That’s “shtup mud” — shtup. What do youtwo want to drink?

[We dissolve over to Herbie, the jazz musician withthe bongos, who acts as Master of Ceremonies,introducing the various artists in a gravelly,dope-inflected voice.]

Herbie: All right, yeah! And now, you chicksand you cats are really gonna dig this dude fromSpain! He’s a flamenco guitarist — and guitar is hissecond ax, man! He bummed around with Jack Kerouac’scousin. Juan Kutner! Yeah, let’s really dig him, he’sa real wigged out guy.

[Applause from the crowd and a musical flourish fromthe band as Juan enters, is handed an acoustic guitar,and sits on a stool. A long pause as the mustachioedJuan, in sunglasses, red neckerchief and open-chestedshirt, puts his ear to the ax and silently tunes it.Sitting in the background, Herbie fills the pause witha string of mellow interjections:]

Herbie: Yeah. Right. Groovy. Awright.

[Juan finally strums a few notes, hits a chord, thenhowls a long, loud, wordless Latin-inflected melisma.Toward the end, he gags a little, then finishes up andstrums another chord. He resumes his howl briefly,ends with a decisive nod of the head, thenfinger-picks the guitar tunelessly as Gregory andFrancesca watch impassively from their table. Gregorylights a cigarillo. Juan struggles to free his fingerswhich get jammed in the strings, mumbles and curses inSpanish, indicates to Herbie that he’s stuck. The jazzband begins to play him off.

Herbie: Yeah, right, hey!

[Applause. Juan shrugs, rises, crosses to Herbie whohelps to pull his fingers free of the strings, thenexits, taking his stool with him. Herbie is alreadyintroducing the next artist:]

Herbie: All right, you know that when Ginsbergwailed with the “Howl,” you dig, “I have seen the bestminds of my generation screaming, hysterical, naked,roaming through the Negro streets at dawn lookin’ foran angry fix.” — you knew he was talkin’ about onecat, man. And that cat was poet Rodney Chernin. Go,Rod, go!

[Applause as gray-goateed, black-clad Rodney Chernin,wearing scarf and beret, rises from a ringside tableinto the spotlight, swaggers to center stage, book inhand, surveys the crowd briefly, consults his book,then begins to read melodramatically:]

Rodney:
Oh, Mr. Commuter!
Wash me not in your Mad Ave. paint-by-numberssoap,
In your Cheez Whiz TV dinner bathtub graveyard.
Not for me your drip-dry tuna casserole! [bongo rimshot]
Not for me your gray-and-pink poodle FASCISM![bongo]
I’d rather roll in my own PUKE! [bongo]
Free and proud to smell.
This is poetry!
It does not NEED to rhyme!
Ga ga!
Da da!
God!
Dog!
Dog!
God!

Herbie: Genius! Ah, genius!

Rodney:
Period!
Comma, comma!
New line: colon!
Question mark?
Hear the sound!
Hear the sound! [bongo]
Zoom! [bongo]
Zoom! [bongo]
Zoom! [bongo]

[Rodney pauses, unsure of the next word, mumbles tohimself, consults book.]

Rodney: Oh!

[Rodney resumes his rant, gesturing broadly:]

Rodney: Zoom! Zoom! Zoom!
Fallout shelter!
Sputnik!
H-bomb!
Explosion! Explosion!!! EXPLOSION!!!
[slaps himself hard in the face]
Bang!

[Applause, music. Gregory and Francesca, too cool toclap, merely snap their fingers. Suki the waitress,still reading her book, brings them theirdrinks.]

Gregory: [casually, to Francesca, off the poet]I prefer his haiku.

Francesca: [not understanding the word “haiku”]I love Japanese movies. I mean, films. Butthey’re so nihilistic, I–

Suki: [interrupts] Anything’s better, uh, thanHollywood, man. I mean, James Dean went to Hollywood.Look what it did to him. I’m studying the Method withUta Hagen. I’d never go to Hollywood, it’snowheresville.

[Suki moves off as we cut to Herbie, introducing thenext act:]

Herbie: And now, the most from the South. Allthe way from Shreveport, Louisiana, he’s Blind NegroJock Jackson. Maybe some of you cats and chicks aren’thip to this but, like, Negroes have really suffered inwhite society! So dig this mannnnnnn.

[Blind Negro Jackson — eyes shut, head upraised, hugeopenmouthed grin — takes center stage. Carrying anacoustic guitar and wearing a harmonica rack ’roundhis 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, thisheah’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!

[harmonica]

Waaaaaahhhhhh! Waaaaaahhhhhh!

[harmonica]

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!

[harmonica]

Waaaaaahhhhhh! Waaaaaahhhhhh!

[harmonica]

And I got five dollars for the winter!
And the rats is gnawin’ on mama’s old church hat!
Waaaaaahhhhhh! Waaaaaahhhhhh!

[harmonica]

And I was blind yesterday …
I’m blind today …
Go’n’ be blind tomorrow!

[Last two words sung with a spectacular falsetto whichdraws genuine applause as the song windsdown.]

Herbie: All right!

Jackson: Thank you, thank you.

[More applause. Suki, tray in hand, pats Jackson onthe shoulder and leads the grinning, nodding musicianoff.]

Suki: Great stuff, man. You know, I lovedSidney Poitier in “The Defiant Ones.” He was great.Sit down, baby.

[During a short musical interlude from the band, wecenter briefly on Gregory and Francesca snapping theirfingers and discussing Jackson’s performanceintensely.]

Gregory: … like, they are SO real.

Francesca: Me, too. I think we all have so muchto learn from Negroes.

Herbie: And now! The mohel of the boils ofsociety! A cat who cuts through the maladies of truth!This cat is too wigged out for the idiot box. You’llnever catch him on Steve Allen, man! Here he is, theworld’s most paranoid hip comic, ShelleyBayless.

[Accompanied by music and applause, Shelley — acigarette-wielding Lenny Bruce imitator wearingsunglasses, dark suit and skinny necktie — rises andtakes center stage, shaking like an addict, oozingparanoia and passive-aggression. The jazz musiciansdig him with much enthusiasm but the crowd nevercracks a smile.]

Shelley: Hi. Hey, man. Ha! Like, I wore theshades ‘cuz candles are too bright, ya dig?

Herbie: Yeah!

Shelley: What’s the matter, man? Didn’t sellenough life insurance today? Is that it? Huh? Whaddyalookin’ at? What? [defiantly holds up his cigarette toGregory, shaking] Cigarette, man! Huh? What are you, acop? Huh? What you–? [to the crowd] You all cops,right? You’re ALL cops and you don’t know it, man! Yasee? That’s all right. Ooh. Cool, dog. Right. I – Ithought I was diminishing but I guess I wasaugmenting.

[Shelley turns to the musicians who crack up at thisuse of music lingo and growl appreciatively.]

Shelley: That’s right. Hey! Dig the duuude. Thecat over there. Dig the scales on him, huh? That’s amajor? [consults the band who growl agreement] Thatis. That’s a major. Hey, hey-hey, ya see, all you catswho 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? Youwant jokes? You want imitations? What do you want?Marlon Brando? [removes sunglasses, lapses into aflawless Brando impersonation] You wuz mah brother,Charlie, you shoulda looked out for me–

[Partially drowned out by laughter and applause, hemumbles dialogue from the 1954 film “On theWaterfront” with Brandoesque incoherence:]

Shelley: Don’t you remember that night in theGarden? You came down and said, “Kid, it ain’t yournight, 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 wascopacetic about reiterating the coda, you could bangit up from across the street, man. Ya dig? Ya dig?Because I know the truth of the– By the time you findout, you know, it – it’ll be in my vein andunderground, you know, ‘cuz you can’t stop it.

Herbie: Wow, Cecille! Shelley Bayless.

[Music, applause. Shelley nods and bows jerkily as hepats himself down, then exits.]

Herbie: Now, here’s a crazy chick. This chickswings with a different drummer — like, wow, Zenpoetry in motion, man. Let’s all groove on the dancemoves of Isadora Schwartz. Wild baby, wild.

[Music. Bone thin, black-clad dancer Isadora Schwartzbreezes into view and strikes an improbabledouble-jointed pose with her arms around her head andboth hands on her breasts.]

Isadora: [thick Noo Yawk accent] I am a leaf!Tawssed in the wind! [her hands waft like birds’ wingsfrom her breasts and she uncoils herself] Oh, thouwind! Blow! Blow! Blow me away! [spins and strikesanother pose, pointing into the crowd] The firstdemand of ontological empiricism is to find yawself![mimes digging, manages an unkempt leap and acts outthe 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, Herbieis so inspired, he leaps from his stool and duets withher – they kneel on the floor whipping their armsabout as if blown by the wind. Much fluttering by theflute during all this. The dance ends with Isadora onher knees, arms outstretched and palms up, her faceentirely covered by her long hair. Herbie returns tohis stool and picks up his bongos. Much applause.Isadora exits.]

Herbie: Crazy! All right, crazy! And now let’spause for the cause with a little musical interlude,cats and chicksssss!

[During the music, we isolate each of the players inan oval as superimposed texts and the narrator’sbooming voice describe their fates. First up iscustomer Gregory, in snobbish profile, cigarilloclenched in his teeth.]

Narrator V/O: Gregory Collyer – Went on tobecome the Love Dentist.

[Customer Francesca looks down pensively.]

Narrator V/O: Francesca Robinson [text says”Richardson”] – Now owns and operates a dog groomingparlor in Tampa, Florida.

[Bongo playing Herbie grins broadly.]

Narrator V/O: Herbie Gleason – Now runs aparking lot art gallery in Laguna Beach.

[Poet Rodney, lips pursed, holds a tinyteacup.]

Narrator V/O: Rodney Chernin – Designer ofSANS-A-BELT Slacks.

[Dancer Isadora grooves quietly to the jazzmusic.]

Narrator V/O: Isadora Schwartz – Now works withhyperkinetic children.

[Blind Negro Jackson, oblivious, eyes shut,openmouthed grin.]

Narrator V/O: Blind Negro Josh Jackson – Nowopening act for Professor Irwin Corey.

[Waitress Suki reads her book.]

Narrator V/O: Suki Bird – Killed inVietnam.

[Comedian Shelley lights one cigarette withanother.]

Narrator V/O: Shelley Bayless — Del Kaz –plays El Gallo in The Fantasticks.

[Flamenco guitarist Juan sucks on an injuredfinger.]

Narrator V/O: Juan Kutner – Went on to write”American Graffiti.”

[Applause. Dissolve to blue neon sign that reads:PLATOS CAVE. Image goes out of focus.]

Submitted Anonymously

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