SNL Transcripts: 10/03/81: “Prose and Cons”

 Saturday Night Live Transcripts

  Season 7: Episode 1

81a: (none) / Rod Stewart

“Prose and Cons”

Tyrone Greene … Eddie Murphy
… Terry McDonell
… Swifty Lazar
Bobby Glover … Joe Piscopo

[Film begins by panning over a series of hardbackbestsellers: Harold Robbins’ Goodbye Janette,Sidney Sheldon’s Rage of Angels, Judith Krantz’Princess Daisy and Judy Mazel’s The BeverlyHills Diet.]

Narrator: Robbins, Sheldon, Krantz, Mazel –all popular fiction writers.

[Montage of elite university buildings.]

Narrator: All of them sprang from theprestigious educational institutions that have beenthe backbone of American literature.

[Rolling Stone editor Terry McDonell drinks acup of coffee.]

Narrator: Where are tomorrow’s Hemingways andFaulkners coming from?

Terry McDonell: [finishes coffee, answersnarrator] Prisons.

[Montage of prison life set to the rhythm of a tin cupbeat against prison bars: a huge gate closes, views ofvarious prisoners in and out cells, etc. SUPER: PROSEAND CONS. Cut back to Terry McDonell. SUPER: TerryMcDonell / Mng. Editor, RollingStone]

Terry McDonell: I think that most of today’swriters are coming from the straining, compactedbowels of that beast we call the American penalsystem.

[Montage of prisoners: playing ball in a rec room,leaning on prison bars, exhaling cigarette smoke,working at a typewriter.]

Terry McDonell V/O: These men have lived.They’ve suffered. They’ve maimed, they’ve killed.They’ve written some stunning books.

Prisoner at Typewriter: [pleased with his work]Yeah!

[Balding celebrity super agent Irving “Swifty” Lazaraddresses the camera. SUPER: Swifty Lazar / LiteraryAgent]

Swifty Lazar: Without a doubt, anything by aprisoner is an automatic bestseller. I tell aspiringwriters, if you commit a crime, we’ll talk.

[Handel’s Alla Hornpipe from his “Water Music” suite– an aristocratic piece of classical music –accompanies a montage of prisoners: in cells and recrooms, doing push-ups, reading a book, pecking away ata typewriter, engaged in animated conversation whilereading a comic book, writing on paper with pen in onehand and cigarette in another, etc. Music ends. Abuzzer sounds. A gate opens. The warden enters andwalks through a cell block, smoking a cigar.]

Narrator: Rockland Prison. Warden CarlHoddegar.

[SUPER: Carl Hoddegar / Warden, RocklandPrison]

Warden V/O: Ah, you can talk Leavenworth, youcan talk Attica. You can even talk Folsom. But none ofthem — none of them — has the sterling literarytradition we have here at Rockland.

[Warden walks past cells with prisoners busy typing.We linger on Cell #4 where a tough-looking mustachioedinmate wearing a red bandana sits at histypewriter.]

Narrator: Bobby Glover is serving up to twentyyears for cutting up his fiancee with a linoleumknife.

Bobby Glover: [rises, addresses the camera withworking class accent] I’m into haiku. The narrowrestrictions of the form have led me to an imagisticfreedom heretofore–

[Shouting from off screen drowns out Bobby. Camerapans jerkily down the cell block to discover twoguards dragging a protesting prisoner away.]

Narrator: Our cameras are there when oneprisoner is caught in an act of plagiarism.

[An angry inmate reaches out of his cell to hit theplagiarist in the head with a book as he is draggedby.]

Angry Inmate: [to plagiarist] Why don’t you seewhat you can steal out o’ that?

[Visiting hours: watched by guards, various prisonerstalk to their well-dressed agents throughglass.]

Narrator: Here, the prisoners keep in touchwith the outside world.

Prisoner 1: No way I’m gonna accept less thaneighteen percent of the–

Prisoner 2: People who watch “Merv Griffin”don’t buy books! Any agent in the business knows that!Get me Donahue–

[Montage of gates and cell doors closing which ends ona door marked MAXIMUM SECURITY.]

Narrator: Each year, Rockland sponsors a poetryfestival.

[Camera trucks up and forward to reveal the occupantof the maximum security cell: Tyrone Green, psychoticyoung African-American male.]

Narrator: Tyrone Greene is this year’swinner.

Tyrone Greene: [angrily intense, directly intocamera]Images by Tyrone Greene …
Dark and lonely on the summer night.
Kill my landlord, kill my landlord.
Watchdog barking – Do he bite?
Kill my landlord, kill my landlord.
Slip in his window,
Break his neck!
Then his house
I start to wreck!
Got no reason —
What the heck!
Kill my landlord, kill my landlord.
C-I-L-L …
My land – lord

[Handel’s Hornpipe plays again as prisoners are cuffedand led away.]

Narrator: Dostoyevsky said, “The degree ofcivilization in a society can be judged by enteringits prisons.” As someone else said, “If Shakespearewere alive today, he’d be doing time.”

[Credits roll over images of prison bars:


Produced by / Norman Mailer

Directed by / Norman Mailer

Written by / Norman Mailer

Research Assistant / Jack Henry Abbott

Credits by / NORMAN MAILER]

Submitted Anonymously

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Robert W McCauley
Robert W McCauley

I very distinctly remember ” Watch dog barking in the night, he look mean, do he bite?”