Summary“Saturday Night Live” began its 30th season with only minimal changes from the previous season. Jimmy Fallon left the show after six seasons of mixed performances, enabling featured player Fred Armisen to be promoted as a full performer. Rob Riggle, a former U.S. Marine turned comedian, joined SNL as a featured player to keep the cast even. Fallon’s vacated seat at the Weekend Update desk left many fans biting their nails with wonder of who, if anyone, would take over his co-anchor position next to head writer Tina Fey. The task went to seasoned performer (and longtime Fey pal) Amy Poehler, in a move obviously penetrated to distract critics from the continued subpar writing efforts throughout SNL. While Fey-Poehler deliver more of the same hijinks previously seen on Weekend Update, even the most ardent fans begin to long for a more permanent turnover at the desk.
Gilda Radner: “Live, from New York, it’s “Saturday Night”!
[ dissolve to opening montage of “Live From New York: The First 5 Years of Saturday Night Live” ]
Jimmy Fallon: When I was, like, a kid, me and my sister would imitate the Wild and Crazy Guys. [ imitates Wild and Crazy Guys ] “Let’s go to Statue of Liberty to get birth control devices.” You know? Like, my grandfather’s like, “What are you teaching these kids?”
President Richard Nixon: You know I’m not a crook, Henry. You know that I’m innocent.
Rosie Shuster: We were children of the ’60s. We’d come out of the pill, and free love, and sex, drugs, rock ‘N’ roll, but also out of civil rights and feminism, and there was nothing on the airwaves that fed back to us the culture we were living. Movies had done it, rock ‘n’ roll had done it, but television was way behind.
[ cut to Patti Smith’s performance of “My Generation”, 04/17/76 ]
Patti Smith: [ singing ]“Talking about my generation.”
Candace Bergen: If you could see who ran the network in those days, it was really entrenched bureaucracy, and the suits and the ties.
[ cut to Fred Silverman sketch, 12/02/78 ]
Fred Silverman: Can’t believe that I had to cancel nine shows. And they were terrible shows! I don’t understand how they fail.
Dan Aykroyd: The only thing out there were shows that had these, sort of, sketch sensibilities. You know, they were joke machines – We weren’t a joke machine – while we were a concept machine, a scene machine.
Paul Simon: Oh, my goodness. I’m really sorry. The Bees number’s cut!
Jane Curtin: What?
Dan Aykroyd: Aw, shucks!
Rosie Shuster: I don’t think they had a lot of confidence in this show. I mean, I don’t think they really understood any more than we did what was about to happen.
Chevy Chase: We went in with no aspirations, no sense that this would go anywhere. And that we had a chance, at least for a year, to parody and take down television.
Rosie Shuster: And, you know, the big question was, “Now what?”
[ cut to Elvis Costello’s performance of “Watching the Detectives”, 12/17/77 ]
Elvis Costello: [ singing ]“Nice girls, not one with a defect Cellophane shrink wrapped so-correct Red dogs under illegal legs.”
Howard Shore: April 1st of 1975, I began moving from my room at the Chateau Marmont. Before we knew it, we were in New York. And Lorne and Tom Schiller were living at the Plaza.
Tom Schiller: He was monomaniacal about it. Everything he said was about “The Show.” “The Show.” And “What show,” I thought. You know?
Lorne Michaels: Since I didn’t know anyone in New York, Marilyn Miller, who I’d known as a writer on Lily’s show said, “You should look up Michael O’Donoghue.”
Chevy Chase: O’Donoghue was the managing editor of “The Lampoon” when they put it out with the cover showing a dog and a gun saying, “If you don’t buy this magazine, we’ll shoot this dog.” Michael was living with a woman named Anne Beatts.
Anne Beatts: I rather audaciously told him how much I disliked the Lily Tomlin specials, and that I preferred Sonny and Cher. And why he wanted to hire me, I can’t imagine.
Chevy Chase: I was in a line for Monty Python’s “Holy Grail.” “We are the knights who say ‘Nee’.” You know. And next to me was Lorne. And we immediately hit it off.
Lorne Michaels: So I offered him a writing job. And he was torn, ’cause he wanted to be a performer. And I couldn’t guarantee that he would be in the cast. He and O’Donoghue knew each other, so this was a natural chemistry there.
Chevy Chase: Tony Hendra was putting together something called “National Lampoon’s Lemmings.” And he’d called in a ringer from Chicago’s Second City, and that was Belushi. John was, without a doubt, the star of the show.
Lorne Michaels: Everybody thought it would be a good idea if I met John. I met John. He told me that he didn’t do television. We didn’t hit it off. Gilda, who also knew John, said he has a — as he does, you know, a real sweet side.
Anne Beatts: Gilda was in New York doing the “National Lampoon” show. So she was someone that was, like, part of the family already. Bill [Murray] was also somebody that we were really keen on Lorne hiring, but instead, he wanted to hire this Canadian guy that we were suspicious of. This Aykroyd fellow. Dan had just come in from Toronto on a motorcycle the size of a building.
Dan Aykroyd: Once Lorne saw Belushi and I together, that he didn’t like. He saw a power structure there that might challenge his authority. Franken and Davis and Gilda were sort of lobbying, and convinced him to hire us.
Marilyn Miller: I knew Franken and Davis in L.A. Because all the young people hung out at the Comedy Store.
Al Franken: She had paid me to play tennis with her. Kind of humiliating. But I had no money.
Eric Idle: Franken and Davis were like a classic comedy writing duo, you know. But they were always, like, whacked out of their skulls.
Al Franken: Tom and I were the only writers that Lorne hired that he hadn’t met. And to this day, we believe that if he had met us, we would not have been hired.
Anne Beatts: Laraine had already been cast.
Lorne Michaels: I knew Laraine Newman from “The Lily Tomlin Show.”
Laraine Newman: Gilda and I watched the auditions. And boy, am I glad I didn’t have to audition.
Barbara Gallagher: The audition, at least 400 people.Tom Schiller: People like Jane Curtin came in.
Lorne Michaels: Jane looked like she belonged on television. She had a face that was sort of built for parody.
Barbara Gallagher: Garrett, by the way, Garrett Morris, he was a writer to begin with. And Lorne wanted to put him on the air.
Garrett Morris: Lorne put out the word that he wanted a black writer. And being crazy, you know, he didn’t know me from Adam. I must have looked — I don’t know. He said, “You’re hired,” right?
Tom Schiller: Alan Zweibel, one of the most nervous guys in the world, came in.Alan Zweibel: I was a joke writer for Catskill comedians. This guy sits down next to me. And he said, “You’re the worst comedian I’ve ever seen in my life. How much money do you need to live?” So I said, “well, I’m making $2.75 an hour at the deli. Match it.”
Tom Schiller: It started growing like a molecular explosion. All areas. Herb Sargent was a teacher. And in the early days, he left a script out which gave the format of all the things, where there’s a character name, and then the dialogue, and then the stage direction. ‘Cause none of us knew how to really do that.
Herb Sargent: I didn’t teach them anything. They learned as they went along. I’d frown at something, but that was about it.
Rosie Shuster: Lorne had an eye for talent. It was like, it’s a picnic, and someone will bring the potato salad, someone will bring the — he had a sense of variety. He understood there needed to be some form of balance.Anne Beatts: It was a little like being Wendy on the Island of lost boys, in a way.
Lorne Michaels: For me, it was an incredibly exciting time. I mean, I was probably fearful of actually going on the air, ’cause I’d never really done a live television show. And, as I’ve said endlessly, we don’t go on because it’s ready, we go on because it’s 11:30. And that tends to be very clarifying.
[ European Immigrant in tight-mouthed concentration, nods ]
Professor: I would like…..
European Immigrant: [ in thick accent ] I would like….
Professor: ….to feed your fingertips….
European Immigrant: [ in thick accent] ….to feed yur fingerteeps….
Professor: …to the wolverines.
European Immigrant: [ in thick accent ] ….to de wolver-eenes.
Professor: Next, I am afraid….
European Immigrant: [ in thick accent ] I em afred…
Professor: …we are out…
European Immigrant: [ in thick accent ] …we are out…
Professor: …of badgers.
European Immigrant: [ in thick accent ] …of badjurs.
Professor: Would you accept…
European Immigrant: [ in thick accent ] Would you accept…
Professor: …a wolverine…
European Immigrant: [ in thick accent ] …a wolver-eene…
Professor: …in it’s place?
European Immigrant: [ in thick accent ] …een es place.
Professor: Next, “Hey,” Ned exclaimed…
European Immigrant: [ in thick accent ] “Hey,” Ned asclaimed…
Professor: “let’s boil…
European Immigrant: [ in thick accent ] “let’s boil…
Professor: …the wolverines.”
European Immigrant: [ in thick accent ] …the wolver-eenes.”
[ The Professor suddenly gasps, clutches his chest, and falls off his chair to the floor, obviously stricken with a heart attack. The Immigrant looks puzzled for a moment, then repeats the Professor’s gasp, clutches his chest, and throws himself on the floor. ] [ Stage Manager enters the scene, peers at the two lifeless figures and looks into the camera and smiles. ]
Stage Manager: Live from New York.. it’s Saturday Night!
[ dissolve to opening credits of the very first episode ]
Announcer: NBC’s “Saturday Night.”
Barbara Gallagher: You know that story about “Saturday Night Live.” About the title. The show was called “Saturday Night Live.” And then Howard Cosell was coming on with his Ed Sullivan show. So he got on before we did, and he called his show, “Saturday Night Live.” So we couldn’t use it. So it was, “Live from New York, it’s ‘Saturday Night’.”
[ opening montage of the first episode continues ]
Announcer: The Not For Ready Primetime Players!
Don Pardo: I think it’s the only time that I ever flubbed anything. Herb Sargent, the next day, he said, “You know what you said at the opening? You said, ‘Not For Ready’ instead of ‘Ready For’.” I says, “I did?” I didn’t even realize it.
Craig Kellem: The Monday after the show, we all met in Lorne’s office. Now, looking at the ratings, it wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t terrific. So it completely amazed me when he looked up, and he said, “I guess we’re a hit.” And I thought to myself, “What is he talking about?”
Neil Levy: All the reviews were bad. I mean, it was just like, “This show is sophomoric. It’s puerile.” And he put them up on the wall, constantly. There was a whole bulletin board filled with bad reviews. And he just scoffed at them.
Dick Ebersol: That was the season that NBC fell to third for the first time in its history. If it had been the typical fall season in 1975, I could see us not having made it.
Lorne Michaels: I knew that if I could do the shows that I would watch, or that I thought was good, that it would be successful. I never questioned that it would be a hit if I could actually get it on.
Singers…..Maya Rudolph, Will Forte, Fred Armisen James Filau…..Will Ferrell
[ open on exterior, Ramada Inn ] [ dissolve to interior, meeting room, as Singers perform a rendition of Gloria Branigan’s “Gloria” ]
Singers: “Oracle, oracle we thank you for a great year, great year, production’s really u-up, u-up, thank you, Team Oracle!”
[ James Filau, dressed in a t-shirt with the red Oracle logo and the words Oracle Conclave 2005 ironed on the front ]
James Filau: whoo! Whoo! All right. Wow, that was really special. Thank you, Joan, Robin and Carlos. You know them as your Sales VPs at Headquarters in Torrance, California. But for tonight, they are the Oracle Singers. And we’d also like to thank the estate of Laura Branigan for the use of the song “Gloria.” Special. Welcome back. Hope you all enjoyed your Continental breakfast. Once again, I’m James Filau. Super-psyched to be hosting the Oracle Conclave for the fourth year in a row. [ a rubbing sound effect is heard as he speaks ] And that’s just — it’s kind of special to — is that me? Oh, it’s my t-shirt. My t-shirt’s rubbing. My bad. [ adjusts his mike ] Let me just — so, are we okay? Is that better? Better? All right, all right.
So, I heard that they are getting rid of interoffice e-mail here at Oracle. Yep, it seems there’s a faster way of sending information. Just tell Martha Spivey. [ he looks offscreen ] What’s that? Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. But she’s gonna be okay? [ a beat ] She’s not? Was anybody gonna bother to tell me? Unbelievable. [ sighs ] Unbelievable.
Okay, well, let’s move on to the slide show. Now, this is fun. This is gonna be good. I can’t wait to see what kind of crazy fun you guys had at Conclave 2005. [ “Eye of the Tiger” plays low in the background ] Okay, we can barely hear that. We can barely hear that. Can we get some more volume? [ volume is cranked up extra high ] Okay, now you’re just being spiteful because that’s way too loud, okay? Forget it. Whatever. Just roll the slide show. Roll the slide show.
[ pictures of the Ramada Inn and various Oracle employees with eyes blazened red flash on the screen ]
Wow. You guys really should have taken more pictures at some of the other events. You know, there’s also a little thing called red-eye reduction button on the camera. Okay. They have that now. I’m pretty sure they do. Don’t look at me like that. Well, since that slide show failed to pump anyone up, it looks like it’s my job to — get this Conclave started. Oh, that’s right. You feel it? Oracle in the house. Say, “Ho-o-o.”
[ rap music pots up ]
James Filau: Yo, yo, yo! Oracle’s a business, we like to H we like — Good lord! Oh, Good lord! Can we kill the music? [ music continues ] Ah! The pain is making me angry! Can we just kill the music, please? Kill the music, you bastards! [ music stops ] What kind of shoddy-ass Conclave is this? Have you hayseeds ever heard of glow tape? Geez of Nazareth! I am not at all right! You know what? You know what? I’m not gonna do my signature rap. Nope. Nope. ‘Cause I’m not okay, all right? I am Jimmy frickin’ Filau! Okay? I opened for Hootie at the Pfizer conference! Which, by the way, was held in Hawaii. Ever heard of it? Maybe you should Google it, Oracle, okay? That’s it. I’m walking. [ Rap music begins again ] No, I’m not doing my rap. Bye bye, I’m outta here. I’m outta here, no. [ trips and falls to the floor ] Who the hell’s duffel bag is this?!
Special: Live From New York: The First 5 Years of Saturday Night Live
Live From New York: The First 5 Years of Saturday Night Live
…..Lorne Michaels …..Dan Aykroyd …..Marilyn Suzanne Miller …..Herb Sargent …..Eric Idle …..Eugene Lee …..Rosie Shuster …..Candace Bergen …..Bernie Brillstein
[ return from commercial on The Band’s medley performance, 10/31/76 ]
The Band: [ singing ]“Life is a carnival, believe it or not Life is a carnival, two bits a shot.”
Eugene Lee: The idea of a show having a home in that sort of setting was very disorienting. But Lorne wanted to be right in the heart of it.
Craig Kellem: At 30 Rockefeller Plaza, you feel overwhelmed by show business. You have the quintessential New York attitude, which is, “We don’t care who you are, and who are you?”
Dan Aykroyd: I always had trouble getting in. The guards just never respected me.
Marilyn Miller: They didn’t know what they were going to encounter when they got off the elevator, and they didn’t want to know.
Tom Davis: It was rough out there on 17.
Howard Shore: 17th floor is a mad house. There’s no question about it. I mean, it was crazy.
Marilyn Miller: You know, it looks — it looks like a dorm. [ cackles ] It looked like utter Hell.
Steve Martin: It looks like a dorm.
Marilyn Miller: That’s what it was, it was a dorm. With all the desks, like, in the hallways, one after another.
Herb Sargent: Like an Army base. It was like a camp. If you opened the door, you would hear screaming, or laughter, or fighting, or something. Close the door, and it was quiet again.
Eric Idle: It was like a huge play pen for comedians and writers. And they said, “Here’s NBC, and from here on, it isn’t NBC. It’s Anti-NBC.”
[ Eric Idle monologue, 1978 ]
Eric Idle: Hey, I thought this sketch had been cut. Yeah, this is out. This is out. Have you seen the writers, anybody? Oh, God. [ Sitar music ] Hello?
Dan Aykroyd: We were living in the building, a lot of us. I managed to get a shower and bunk beds installed in my office.
Marilyn Miller: Nobody would go, “just a moment, would you hold on? I’ll get him.” They’d go, “There’s a phone call for you in your room!” “Your room.” Rockefeller center was “your room.”
Howard Shore: I think the 17th floor was nicer than any of our apartments. We didn’t make much money.
Eugene Lee: I mean, we were rowdy back then, you know? We were very rowdy, that’s all. I mean, the elevator door on 17 was all busted up, you know, because, what do you do when you wait for the elevator? You kick the door.
[ cut to entrance of “Interior Demolitionists” ]
Good morning, Ma’am.
Good morning, Ma’am. Interior demolitionists. Are you Mrs. Henderson?
Mrs. Henderson: Yeah. Interior demolitionists?
Yeah. Where do you want us to begin?
Mrs. Henderson: [ calling upstairs ] Honey, did you send for Interior demolitionists?
Rosie Shuster: There was a food metaphor Lorne had, like, “We know the ingredients, we just don’t know the quantity and the recipe. So we’re going to find it on its feet.”
Lorne Michaels: We had a momentum. We were doing shows one after another. And there was an incredible level of fatigue. And excitement.
Dick Ebersol: Show four, with Candy Bergen, is the first show that begins to have, sort of, that infectious, mass cast kind of feeling of, “We’re all having, really, a good time here.”
[ clips from Bergen’s first episode: Ford, Bee Monologue, World Leader, Albert Brooks, Kiwi ] [ cut to opening of “Jaws II” ] [ doorbell sounds ]
Woman #1: [ moves to chain-locked door ] Who is it?
Land Shark: [ muffled voice ] Mrs. Ramilarghh??
Woman #1: Who is it?
Land Shark: [ muffled voice ] Plumber..
Woman #1: Plumber? I didn’t ask for a plumber. Who is it?
Land Shark: [ muffled voice ] Telegram.
Woman #1: Oh. Telegram. Just a moment.
[ unlocks door, and opens it. The head of the shark appears, grabbing her arm and pulling her into the hallway as she screams. ] [ SUPER: “Jaws II” ]
Lorne Michaels: I think the confidence that we had came from being a group. There was so much talent around that you just fed off it.
Candace Bergen: From the first show, to the one I did, which I think was the fourth show, “I’m Chevy Chase and you’re not” became part of the pop culture. [ cut to opening of “Weekend Update” ]
Announcer: and now, “Weekend Update” with Chevy Chase.
Chevy Chase: [ into phone ] What do you mean you’re late? How late? Two weeks late. That could be emotions. Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it, okay? Okay. Good-bye, Barbara. Margaret. I’m sorry.
Good evening, I’m Chevy Chase and you’re not.
Bernie Brillstein: And Chevy was a star before he was a star. You know, he just looked like a star, acted like a star and was really talented.
Dan Aykroyd: He wrote for the other cast members, you know? He was very generous that way. And he exploded very fast to superstardom status.
Belushi: Well, Mr. Chase…
Lorne Michaels: When they’d done “Lemmings,” John was the star of the show. And I think that it just began to alter the balance.
[ Belushi punches Chevy ]
Marilyn Miller: Chevy was supposed to be, sort of, the Cary Grant of the cast. He was the W.A.S.P., Handsome Guy. The rest of us were considered schlubs.[ cut to “Chevy’s Girls” ]
Chevy’s Girls: [ singing ]“Chevy! Chevy! I love when you fall down Each “Saturday Night” on my TV. Oh, but, Chevy, every time you take that fall I wish that you were falling, falling for me!”
[ cut to the 1976 Emmy Awards ]
Redd Foxx: For Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Variety or Music Series, Chevy Chase.
[ Chevy Chase jokingly stumbles his way toward the podium ]
Chevy Chase: Needless to say, this is totally expected on my part. [ Light laughter ]
For Outstanding Comedy, Variety or Music Series, “NBC’s Saturday Night.” Lorne Michaels, producer.
[ Lorne Michaels run up to the stage to accept his Emmy award ]
Lorne Michaels V/O: And I thought, “It’s not going to get better than this. Is there a way I can get out of here?”
Lorne Michaels: [ at the podium ] I would like to thank the people at NBC, most notably, Dick Ebersol, who was there at the beginning, and has supported us all along. I’d also like to thank the city of New York for the correct combination of rejection and alienation, which keeps the comedy spirit alive. [ laughter ] I’d like to thank the best production staff, a lot of old timers who worked in live television, and neglected to mention what it was like before we started.
Lorne Michaels: That’s when the Industry began to notice us. And after that, the state of grace that we’d been in up to that point changed.
Johnny Knoxville: Ladies and gentlemen – System of a Down!
System of a Down: “Why do they always send the poor? My God is of Bible blood with pointed ears Victorious, victorious steel Can your spending kneel? Marching forward hypocritic And hypnotic computers You depend on our protection Yet you feed us lies from the tablecloth.
La la la la la la la la la la
Everybody is going to the party Have a real good time Dancing in the desert Blowing up the sunshine.
Kneeling roses Disappearing into Moses’ dry mouth Breaking into Fort Knox Stealing our intentions Every city, gripped in oil Crying freedom!! Handed to obsoletion Still you feed us lies from the tablecloth.
La la la la la la la la la la
Everybody is going to the party Have a real good time Dancing in the desert Blowing up the sunshine. Everybody is going to the party Have a real good time Dancing in the desert Blowing up the sunshine.
Blast off, it’s party time And we all live in a fascist nation Blast off, it’s party time And where the (bleep) are you? Where the (bleep) are you? Where the (bleep) are you? Why don’t presidents fight the war? Why do they always send the poor? Why don’t presidents fight the war? Why do they always send the poor? Why do they always send the poor? Why do they always send the poor? Why do they always send the poor!!
Kneeling roses Disappearing into Moses’ dry mouth Breaking into Fort Knox Stealing our intentions Every city, gripped in oil Crying freedom!! Handed to a obsoletion Still you feed us lies from the tablecloth.
La la la la la la la la la la
Everybody is going to the party Have a real good time Dancing in the desert Blowing up the sunshine. Everybody is going to the party Have a real good time Dancing in the desert Blowing up the sun.
Where the (bleep) are you? Where the (bleep) are you? Why don’t presidents fight the war? Why do they always send the poor? Why don’t presidents fight the war? Why do they always send the poor? Why do they always send the poor? Why do they always send the poor?
Daron Malakian: FUCK, YEAH!!
System of a Down: Why do they always send the poor? Why do they always send the poor? Why do they always send the poor? They always send the poor! They always send the poor!”