Sunday, June 29, 2008

NBC's Saturday Night

In honor of George Carlin, NBC played the premier episode of Saturday Night Live on which Carlin was a guest. At its premier, the show was simply called NBC's Saturday Night but did include the signature, "Live, from New Your, it's Saturday Night!!" at the end of the opening skit.

You will notice in the previous paragraph that I did not say that Carlin had hosted the show. I don't know for how many episodes they did this but the format was much different than any I've ever seen.

First, as I said, Carlin did not host the show - he was a guest performer. He performed an opening standup set of a couple of minutes after the opening then returned several more times during the show for a minute or two each time. He never really interacted with the audience and was not part of any of the sketches. Imagine a guest comic on The Tonight Show but bring him out three or four times during the show.

The next difference I noticed was that the people I think of as the "stars" of Saturday Night Live - Aykroyd, Belushi, Chase, Radner, Curtain, etc. - were not singled out in the opening credits. They were all listed on the same screen and announced as the "Not Ready for Prime Time Players." The people who were singled out included Any Kaufman, George Coe (known more as a character actor than a comedian), and Albert Brooks.

The musical guests were handled a little differently, too. First, there were two. I remember there usually only being one. The guests were Billy Preston (Nothin from Nothin) and Janice Ian (At Seventeen) and they each performed two songs.

It was interesting to see SNL at its roots. It was also interesting to see how far we've come with the changes in format and the changes in what is acceptable (Carlin was wearing a vest and a blazer if you can believe it). All in all it was a fun look back and a fitting tribute to George Carlin.

So long, George.

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