I started to watch the first season of SNL and I expected it to be this incredibly dated and dusty piece of comedy because we had a cheap knock-off in Germany and it really didn’t age well.
But the original SNL cast was spectacular, I love the many segments, with not really that much more time the show feels a lot more packed with things and even though the Muppets bits are surprisingly horrible, Andy Kaufman and Albert Brooks are absolutely fantastic.
And the sketches…they are hit and miss as is usual for every sketch show but I love that compared to present episodes, the actors learned their lines and you hardly ever see them staring distractingly into the direction of the teleprompter. And they get so intense. “The Bully Boys” aka Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi are incredible and even though Chevy Chase was the first big star out of the cast (which is weird because he messes up a lot during the first episodes) Dan and John were the highlights, the improvisation on their parts are sometimes even better than the actual punchline.
(supposedly, John was the only one who had to audition because Lorne was unsure whether his comedic talents would be enough to balance out his reputation as quite an erratic and intense person. John was not amused. You can hear the cast laughing in the background)
Back then, it also felt as if they were a lot more adventurous with ad-libbing, there was a lovely little talk with host Candice Bergen and my new girl crush Gilda Radner in the third episode and they were not really doing a sketch or a routine, it felt more like an actual girl’s talk and though slightly cheesy on Candice’s part, Gilda was hilarious and the whole thing felt very charming and even heart-warming.
Plus, I love the bees. I know that Nic Cage would not agree with me but that is a pretty sweet if not perfect running gag, especially as it doesn’t even get stale because they involve them differently in every episode instead of trying to do the same thing over and over until it’s dragged out and only then switch it up. I remember an old VHS tape we had of John Belushi’s best sketches and there was a pre-Blues Brothers Blues Brothers performance with Dan and John and the whole band dressed up as bees.
See Dan in the background? Already sporting the John Lee Hooker hat, that’s history in the making we’re seeing here. And did you know that Howard Shore kinda jokingly came up with their name if the internet can be believed? (yeah sorry, I can’t embed this video, I tried and then I got a hissy fit…so, click the link)
Anyways, I don’t hate the present SNL but it is a little sad how few space they leave nowadays for some sweet spontaneous moments and for skits that are not always laugh out loud funny but need some time to get there (Lily Tomlin’s sketch on the 50s girl at the school dance is sweet as pie).
I think, that’s another thing I love about these old episodes, there are so many comedy classics that I just didn’t know or never really got into and now there they are, charming and smart and hilarious and I get a glimpse into the genius of comedians that I only knew from goofy movies because back in Germany we didn’t really get to see their late night show skits but only the movies and nothing but the movies. Boy, did we miss out on something.
And last but not least:
Mhm, that’s terrific bass!