SNL Transcripts: Miskel Spillman: 12/17/77: The Gift of the Magi


 Saturday Night Live Transcripts

  Season 3: Episode 8

77h: Miskel Spillman / Elvis Costello

The Gift of the Magi

… Jane Curtin
… Miskel Spillman
Helen … Gilda Radner
Robert … John Belushi
Doctor … Dan Aykroyd
Nurse … Laraine Newman

Jane Curtin: [sits in front of a well-trimmed Christmas tree,addressing the camera] Every holiday season, it’salways comforting to read classic Christmas storiesthat are loved the world over. Stories where peoplegive of themselves to someone they love. [Pull back toreveal eighty-year old host Miskel Spillman sittingbeside Jane] One of our favorites here at SaturdayNight — and we’re sure it’s one of yours — is “TheGift of the Magi” and we’d like to share it with youagain.

Miskel Spillman: [to Jane] Oh, “The Gift of the Magi” is one ofmy favorites.

Jane Curtin: [touches Miskel’s arm] Oh, good! Good. [readsfrom a book] Once upon a time, not so long ago, therewas a man and a woman who loved each other very much.His name was Robert and her name was Helen and thiswas their first Christmas together as man and wife.The young couple had little money but were very richin spirit because they had each other. [Dissolve toHelen’s hospital room] And though young Helen was inthe hospital with a failing kidney, it still didn’tdampen the couple’s Christmas spirit.

[Long-haired Helen lies in her hospital bed as Robertholds her hand.]

Helen: Oh, Robert! They’re looking for a donor now.[Robert kisses Helen’s hand lovingly]

Jane’s Voice: [narrating] Helen was a beautiful girlwhose long, raven hair was the envy of all who knewher and a source of pride to Robert.

Robert: [takes old-fashioned watch from his pocket andopens it] Oh. It’s time to brush your hair. [Helenholds the watch while, using a white hair brush,Robert grooms Helen’s flowing locks.]

Jane’s Voice: [narrating] And Robert’s most prizedpossession was an antique gold watch, a pricelessheirloom which had been in his family for generations.

Helen: Oh! I always think of this watch as part ofyou, Robert. So steady and reliable.

Robert: Yes, but the watch is working — and I haven’tgot a job.

Helen: Oh, Robert. Don’t worry. It’s Christmastime.It’s a season of hope. Things will get better.

[Dissolve back to Jane and Miskel.]

Jane Curtin: And it was hope that they lived on as, thisChristmas, they were too poor to exchange gifts. Andeven if they could, Helen’s sickness hung over themlike a dark cloud.

Miskel Spillman: [to Jane] What a shame.

Jane Curtin: [nods, deeply moved] I know.

[Dissolve back to hospital room where Robert and adoctor stand over a sleeping Helen and confer.]

Doctor: The test came back. You’re a perfect donor.[Robert sighs with relief] We can perform thetransplant immediately. Your wife will be very happy.

Robert: Please don’t tell her I’m the donor, doctor. Iwant it to be a surprise.

Doctor: Okay, if that’s the way you want it. Uh, bythe way, I really hate to bring this up now but, uh,this is a very expensive operation.

Robert: That’s all right, doctor. [holds up hispriceless watch] I know where I can get my hands onsome money. [Robert sadly closes the watch as he andthe doctor walk off.]

Jane’s Voice: [narrating] And, while Robert wassolving one problem, Helen was dealing with a similarone.

Helen: [wakens, brushes her hair as a nurse enters]Oh, nurse! I don’t know what to do. For Robert and me,this may be our first and our last Christmas together.[If] I just knew where I could get the money to buyRobert a gift.

Nurse: Well, do you have anything you can sell?

Helen: No. [pauses and stares at her hand which holdsthe white hair brush filled with her hair] Oh! Wait!No, I– Maybe … Yes! I – I’ll do it!

[Dissolve back to Jane and Miskel.]

Jane Curtin: So Helen and Robert, because of their boundlesslove for each other, gave of themselves and were ableto exchange Christmas gifts that morning.

Miskel Spillman: [to Jane] I feel like crying.

Jane Curtin: [to Miskel] So do I.

[Dissolve back to hospital room where Robert, nowwearing a bathrobe, clutches his side as the nursehelps him to Helen’s bed.]

Nurse: Your wife should be awakening any time now.

[Robert sits on the edge of the bed and looks at Helenwho now wears a white hospital cap on her head.]

Nurse: There. I’ll leave you two alone. MerryChristmas. [exits]

Robert: [wakes Helen] Merry Christmas, Helen. It’s allover, honey. You got your new kidney.

Helen: Oh, how wonderful! Oh, I – I just wish I knewwho the donor was so I could thank him. Robert? Whyare you wearing your robe?

Robert: Don’t worry, baby. It’s all right. We’ll bothbe fine.

Helen: Oh, no! Oh, you mean–? Oh, no! Oh, Robert! Youwere the donor! Oh, Robert!

Robert: Well, I figured I had two, so … why not?What – what’d you get me?

Helen: [hands him a small box she has hidden beneaththe bedcovers] Merry Christmas, Robert. I love you.

Robert: Oh! [opens box, looks inside] Ohhhh! [pullsout a gold chain]

Helen: It’s a chain for your watch! Oh, quick … Getout your watch, darling, and let me see what it lookslike on it.

Robert: I can’t, sweetie. I – I sold the watch to payfor the surgery. But that’s not important. How did youget the money to buy this chain?

Helen: [nervously puts a hand to the cap on her head]Well, I – I sold my …

Robert: [stares in horror] No! You didn’t! You–?

Helen: Yes, I – I sold my hair brush. [pulls cap offher head, revealing her long, uncut hair] Yes. See,the bounce is gone but it was worth it.

Robert: [suddenly upset] You what? Is that all youthink I’m worth, you cheap slut?! Boy, was I mistakenabout you! I sell my watch that’s been in my familyfor a hundred years, I give ya my kidney, and you sella stupid hair brush to buy me some junk jewelry, huh?![throws the chain at her pillow where it bounces offonto the floor]

Helen: Yeah, but wait a minute! The – the brush meanta lot to me! It had Nylon bristles!

Robert: [mocks her mercilessly] Nyeah, nyeah, nyeah,nyeah, nyeah, nyeah! [yells] Nylon bristles, you face!You selfish pig! [slaps her across the face] Icould’ve been watching the ball game or reading athome! But nooooooooooooooo! I had to give ya my kidneyAND my watch!

Helen: Yeah, but, Robert, I’ve been sick! I didn’thave time to shop!

Robert: Oh! Ya didn’t have time to shop! I had thetime, huh? They’re yankin’ my kidney out of me! I gota scar as big as Europe! Well, it’s the last time it’sgoing to happen! [starts strangling her] MerryChristmas! Arrrggghhh!

[Dissolve back to Jane and Miskel.]

Jane Curtin: Robert – Robert was right. He was right when hesaid, it’s the gift, not the thought that counts. Theydon’t call it “The Thought of the Magi.” It’s “TheGift…”

Miskel Spillman: [to Jane] You’re damn right.

Jane Curtin: [to the camera] Merry Christmas!

[ dissolve to audience wide shot, zoom in on woman with SUPER: “Very Famous, Somewhere” ]

Submitted Anonymously

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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