Forty-three years ago on October 11, 1975, I was a friendless, dateless college freshman in an all-girls dorm. I watched TV in the Schmidt Hall common room with the three overweight juniors who lived in the triple and my roommate.
The show was “NBC’s Saturday Night” (later renamed “Saturday Night Live” after ABC canceled “Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell” in 1976.)
I had no idea that what I saw on late night NBC would be around when I was a senior citizen, nor the impact it had on my life or at least forty years of inside jokes.. The host that night was George Carlin, and the musical guests included Billy Preston and Janis Ian. While I did not remember Janis Ian as a guest until I consulted The Google today, this trivia made me laugh. Janis Ian’s album “At Seventeen,” was the ultimate in angst for a friendless, dateless college freshman.
For most of the next four-plus decades, I watched the episodes, and my musical taste and culture references were shaped by everything from Leon Redbone and “I’m Gumby, dammit” to all Steve Martin ever said or did (excluding the unforgivable “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid”).
I am not much of a partier, so even when I was younger and went out, I was often home in time for the show. In college, our group of friends had no money, so we usually stayed in at one of our low-budget drab apartments, drank a four-dollar case of Wisconsin Club or some other cheap beer, and listened to albums until time for SNL.
I am no longer friendless or dateless, and now SNL is much like the car accident you can’t help but slow down to investigate. After watching an NBA pre-season game with the husband, Professor Longhair, we tuned in to last night’s episode.
We always wonder if we will have heard of the host and musical guest. Chances are in the last decade that we won’t unless the host or guest are superstars. Last night we didn’t know the host who starred in a movie we have not yet seen, “Crazy Rich Asians.” We had trouble with the host’s name. Her name is Aquafina. At first, we were reminded of one of the stars of the horror film classic “Black Lagoon” movies, Aquanetta. No, Aquafina is a real person and one of the successful actors in “Crazy Rich Asians,” the blockbuster movie of the fall. The film has one of the highest grosses in a decade.
The announcer said the musical guests’ name so quickly that I thought he said, “Rabbit Skunk.” Neither of us can hear that well anymore, especially across the room. The musical guest was Travis Scott, whom I don’t know from Randolph Scott or Francis Scott Key. Yes, his name sounds like Rabbit Skunk.
With the truly bizarre group names today, anything is possible. How about “Rainbow Butt Monkeys” for a thousand, Alex?
Last night was a particularly lame episode. Sometimes, the writers hit on all cylinders. I would have opened with a sketch of Kenan Thompson as Justice Clarence Thomas giving new Justice Brett Kavanaugh (of course, played by Matt Damon) an orientation to the Supreme Court. We’ll let your perverted imaginations run wild with that one.
The best part of last night’s show was Pete Davidson’s criticism of Kanye West’s impromptu speech for POTUS the previous week. Pete Davidson is, I believe, incredibly funny because he is so honest and real.
I did not make it through the episode as I didn’t want to watch “Rabbit Skunk” do his second gig on the show, so I went to bed. Professor Longhair’s comment was “I sure miss The Roches.” (The Roches were a female trio that appeared on SNL in 1979 when Bea Arthur hosted.
Yes, I said Bea Arthur. Yes, that Bea Arthur. Maude, the Golden Girl. I vividly remember watching “The Roches” with a group of friends in a Calvert Street apartment. I have no memory of Maude Findlay. God only knows what the beverage of choice was that evening.
Next week’s episode features Seth Myers as host and a musician I may have heard of, Paul Simon. I’ll be back.