Saturday Night Live Transcripts
Season 19: Episode 6
The Tramp … Norm MacDonald
The Old Man … Bernie Friedman
The Employer … Tom Schiller
A short video made to resemble a black and whitesilent film, complete with scratches, blemishes andabrupt edits, as if we were watching an ancient printfrom the 1930s that has seen a lot of wear and had tobe patched and spliced together. All the film’saction is set to a soundtrack that consists entirelyof MUSIC from Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 film MODERNTIMES.
FADE IN on a view of two river-spanning New York Citybridges silhouetted in the sunrise.
SUPER: NORM MacDONALD in “WILL WORK FOR FOOD”
PAN OVER to another view of the nearestbridge.
SUPER: with BERNIE FRIEDMAN and TOM SCHILLER
CUT TO a young TRAMP sleeping on the ground under thebridge, partially protected by a cardboard box, hishead resting on a rolled-up blanket. (The MUSIC is thePuccini-like Chaplin melody that later became famousas the song “Smile.”) Steam rises from a nearby grate.Hubcaps, tin cans and other garbage are littered allaround. The Tramp awakens with a yawn and sits up,eyes blinking in the sunlight. He is unshaven anddresses as a homeless man might have dressed duringthe Great Depression, with a thin dirty overcoat and aragged cap. He rubs his eyes, strokes his chinthoughtfully, and looks around.
CUT TO a second tramp, an OLD MAN, standing nearby,amidst the trash and with the river as a backdrop. Herubs his hands for warmth as the Tramp, carrying ablanket, rises and joins him. The Old Man glances atthe Tramp and shakes his head sorrowfully. The Trampplaces his blanket around the Old Man’s shoulders.
After an abrupt edit, the Tramp hangs a crudely-madecardboard sign on himself that reads: “WILL WORK FORFOOD” — the two tramps peer down at the pathetic signfor a moment and then exchange resigned glances. TheOld Man watches sadly as his younger friend trudgesoff.
UNDER THE BRIDGE
The Tramp looks grim and haggard as he stands by theside of the road, holding his “WILL WORK FOR FOOD”sign steady in the wind.
DISSOLVE TO the Tramp in the same position, some timelater. He shifts his weight on his feet several timeswhile glancing around, embarrassed and uncomfortable.He fixes his eyes dejectedly on the ground for amoment. To his surprise, when he looks up, anautomobile is pulling to a stop beside him. A glimmerof hope in his face, he moves to the car and bendsover to speak to the bearded driver (his futureEMPLOYER) through the passenger window. Thebarely-glimpsed Employer makes an offer to the Trampwho nods in agreement. The Employer jerks a thumbtoward the back seat as the Tramp removes his sign anddrops it on the roadside. With a grin, the Tramphurries into the back seat and closes the door behindhim. The car pulls away.
DISSOLVE TO a LONG SHOT of the swanky, awning-coveredfront door of a luxury apartment house. The Tramp andhis Employer arrive. The Employer graciously allowsthe Tramp to go first as they enter thebuilding.
INT. THE EMPLOYER’S APARTMENT
The officious Employer, seen clearly for the firsttime, is a thin, gray-haired, bespectacled man with anoversized beard that droops far below his chin (likean old silent movie villain). He wears a business suitand politely offers the Tramp a chair at a woodentable in the middle of the room. The Tramp, stillwearing his cap but having shed his overcoat, wears adusty vest over an old white shirt. He nods gratefullyand sits as his Employer pulls the chair out for him.
The Employer bids the Tramp to wait and exits into anadjacent kitchen as the Tramp adjusts his cap, rubshis hands, licks his lips, and grins happily at thethought of food. To the sound of heralding trumpets,the Employer returns a long moment later carrying, notfood, but a huge stack of papers which he places onthe table next to the instantly disappointed Tramp.The Employer shows the Tramp an ink pad and a rubberstamp — and demonstrates how to use them. The Trampreluctantly begins rubber stamping the entire stack ofpapers, one sheet at a time. The Employer monitors theTramp’s work for a moment, then exits into thekitchen. The Tramp continues to stamp away as the filmspeeds up to FAST MOTION (accompanied by the uptempomusic Chaplin used for his film’s fast-moving assemblyline sequence).
This leads directly into a FAST MOTION MONTAGE of theTramp doing various kinds of work all around theEmployer’s apartment:
The Tramp, a little annoyed, straightens a framedpicture on the wall as the unsatisfied Employerdirects him to turn it first one way and thenanother.
The Tramp sits at the newspaper-covered table andshines shoes as the Employer arrives with an armful offootwear and begins stacking it next to him.
Aerial view of the Tramp, seated at the table which iscovered with a pile of bills and receipts, peckingaway at a calculator.
The Tramp, hot iron in hand, wipes his brow as heslaves away over an ironing board. The Employer,draped with folded clothes, stands nearby urging himon.
The Tramp, on a ladder, paints the apartment’s ceilingtrim.
A brief shot of the Tramp wiping his brow as hecontinues to rubber stamp the huge stack ofpapers.
The Tramp runs a vacuum cleaner over the floor whilehis Employer, hunched over, points to where he shouldvacuum next.
The Tramp, squinting in the sunlight, dusts someVenetian blinds with a feather duster.
CLOSE-UP of the Tramp, a jeweler’s loupe in one eye,repairing a wristwatch. The Employer impatientlyreaches in, takes the watch and replaces it withanother, to the Tramp’s annoyance.
The Tramp, seated at the table in front of anold-fashioned typewriter, pecks away uncertainly ashis Employer paces in the background, givingdictation.
The Tramp, sitting on the floor, hammers some woodworkas his Employer stands by, supervising.
The Tramp cleans a set of dentures with atoothbrush.
Another brief shot of the Tramp dusting theblinds.
Another brief shot of the Tramp at the typewriter ashis Employer pulls a sheet out of the machine.
A brief shot of the Tramp as he finishes rubberstamping the stack of papers.
Another brief shot of the Tramp cleaning the denturesas his irate Employer, a handkerchief clutched to hismouth, bursts in from the kitchen, shakes an angryfist at him, points to his own mouth, checks his watchimpatiently, etc. The Tramp gives him a quick look andgoes right on brushing.
The MONTAGE ENDS as the music tempo and the film speedreturn to near-normal with a CLOSE SHOT of a tinymodel ship being raised in a glass bottle.
PULL BACK to reveal that it is the Tramp, seated atthe table, who has righted the ship. Beside him, hissatisfied Employer pats him happily on the shoulder.The Tramp grins, then points to his own mouth and rubshis stomach to indicate that he is hungry. TheEmployer looks quizzical, raises a finger to urgepatience, then with another supportive pat on theshoulder, heads into the kitchen, pausing briefly atthe door to glance back at the Tramp with a sinisterlook. The Tramp again rubs his hands expectantly andlicks his lips, taking a handkerchief from his pocketand tucking it into his collar like a bib. More liplicking and hand rubbing.
After a CUT, the Employer returns wearing chef’s hatand apron. He opens the kitchen door with a flourishand wheels in a fancy covered dinner tray.
CLOSE-UP: The cover is lifted (to the sound of acymbal crash) and we ZOOM IN to reveal: a lone,dried-up hot dog in a cheap bun atop a folded napkin.No condiments or anything — just a crappy little hotdog and a bun. We linger on this image for a moment asthe MUSIC comments wryly.
EXT. UNDER THE BRIDGE – NIGHT
A string of automobile headlights cruise down thestreet. We hear the “Smile” theme once more as theEmployer’s car pulls up to the side of the road andthe Tramp, again wearing his overcoat, emerges fromthe back seat, shuts the door behind him, then standsaside and watches the car pull away. He raises anangry clenched fist at the departing car but thenchanges the gesture to a dismissive wave. Alone now,he peers off in the direction of the river.
CUT TO the Old Man, still rubbing his hands for warmthas he stands before a large metal trash barrel thatglows with a burning fire. The river is behind him andthe lights of another bridge are visible in thedistance. He warmly greets the Tramp who, shaking hishead in disgust, joins him at the barrel. After apause, the Tramp taps the Old Man on the arm, glancesaround, reaches into an inside coat pocket, and pullsout a small white object. Grinning broadly, he showsit to the Old Man.
CUT TO CLOSE-UP: it’s the hot dog and bun, wrapped inits napkin.
CUT BACK TO FULL SCENE: The smiling Tramp offers thefood to the Old Man who takes it happily. But the OldMan’s face falls as he pauses and stares at the foodfor a moment. Realizing he hasn’t earned it, hequickly offers it back to the Tramp. With a great showof unconcern, the Tramp insists the Old Man eat it,taps his own stomach to indicate that he’s had plentyalready, and grandly waves off the offer. He thenpulls out a toothpick and starts picking his teeth.The Old Man thinks it over and says “thank you.” TheTramp stops picking his teeth and watches, a littleforlornly, as the Old Man takes a huge bite out of thepuny hot dog, chews it, and grins with obviouspleasure. The Tramp returns the toothpick to his mouthand peers into the fire with downcast eyes. The twomen stand in the firelight and say nothing as we FADEOUT — to the accompaniment of Chaplin’s sad buthopeful music.
END TITLE: The End / A SCHILLERVISION PICTURE
The crowd in Studio 8H applauds as the title cardfades out. A moment later, we fade in on a hot dog ofa different sort: G. E. Smith, who casually strums hisguitar with a grin as, behind him, the SNL Band swingsthrough a gentle jazz tune on its way to a commercial.]