Classic SNL Review: May 14, 1983: Mayor Ed Koch / Kevin Rowland & Dexy's Midnight Runners (S08E20)

RATINGS SYSTEM:
***** - Classic
****  - Great
***   - Good / Average
**    - Meh
*     - Terrible

  • There is no cold opening this week; the show goes straight into the montage, with Don Pardo announcing "From New York, it's Saturday Night Live!" at the beginning. The applause from the audience isn't faded in until after Koch is announced, which makes it sound a little artificial.

MONOLOGUE

  • Thanks to the FCC lifting their restrictions on editorializing, Mayor Ed Koch can finally talk about how Ronald Reagan bugs him.
  • Koch is charismatic and likable; this is mostly softball stuff with Koch doing some good natured self-deprecation and mostly focused on petty jealousies.  The audience liked the comment about Reagan being a "wacko" and the burn about his hair (an easy joke).

  ** 1/2

MISCELLANEOUS: MAN IN THE STREET

  • Answers to "What's the most disgusting thing you've seen in New York?"
  • I never rate these segments, but there were a few interesting responses, particularly the suicide who had to be carried away in multiple bags, and the one respondent trying to tiptoe around mentioning a homeless person defecating.
  • Ending with the proud New Yorker saying there was nothing disgusting about the city and there was no place he would rather be felt a little too sentimental, though.

SHOW: MISTER ROBINSON'S NEIGHBORHOOD

  • Mister Robinson (Eddie Murphy) shows how to make money when jobs are scarce: become an "ontapanure" and sell stolen goods.
  • The return of an audience favorite, which hasn't been on the show since October.  This is a weaker outing, though; it's not bad, but the inspiration doesn't seem to be there aside from the misspelled word of the day and the piece of ear left on the stolen earring.

***

SKETCH: LEDGE

  • Mayor Ed Koch tries to convince a suicidal man (Eddie Murphy) that New York isn't such a bad place; Frank Sinatra (Joe Piscopo) lends his support.
  • This felt more like an easy applause generator (Eddie plus Piscopo's Sinatra). with a few fairly obvious jokes (the unseen crowd of spectators telling Koch to jump, the ruined stockbroker jumping off the ledge).  Murphy does a decent Sammy Davis Jr. here; Koch doesn't so much sing as sprechstimme (but gets a point for joining in). 
  • Who plays the police officer? SNL Archives lists Kazurinsky, but it's not him (he plays the deli employee).
  • According to Bob Tischler in Live From New York, Sinatra and Koch were supposed to jump off the ledge with Murphy at the end, but Joe Piscopo argued that "Frank wouldn't do that"; Murphy countered "And Mayor Koch would?". The air show version ends with Sinatra and Koch shaking hands after Murphy jumps.

**

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "COME ON EILEEN"

  • Koch introduces the band by saying "They should have sung my part in the last sketch, 'cause they're real good".
  • This is just an alright performance; I give them bonus points for doing something different with the bridge section, which isolates Kevin Rowland's countermelody and plays with the dynamics before the other band members go back into the accelerando.

COMMERCIAL: THE ENQUIRER (repeat from 04/09/83)

COMMERCIAL: BALD NO MORE

  • The hair growth tonic helps Mayor Ed Koch grow a thick mane of hair like Don King's.
  • Another obvious joke. Again, Koch is a great sport, mock-complaining about a dead end job and letting Piscopo dump the contents of the bottle onto his head (which then proceed to drip onto his clothes).
  • Murphy's appearance as a "professional hairdresser" (not quite Dion) is the highlight, including the random tongue thing he did in Casablanca (Bridges show).

**

SATURDAY NIGHT NEWS

  • Best jokes: David and Julie Eisenhower movie
  • A particularly weak SNN installment; several of Hall's jokes end up getting hisses from the audience ("The Correct Time", Luis Ruiz donation of Mexican food to Reagan). Hall's Fernando Valenzuela "impression" in the joke about him and John Gavin is especially cringe-worthy.
  • Patti-Lynn Hunsacker (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), having her prom upstairs in the Rainbow Room, complains about her immature date. This is the final appearance of the character, which just seems to be the biggest example of how SNL wasted Louis-Dreyfus' considerable talents.
  • Havnagootiim Vishnuuerheer (Tim Kazurinsky) discusses God's mistakes: stupid people.  This is the weakest outing for the character all year and felt like minimal effort was put into this bit, although there are two bright spots: an audience member yells out the character's name from the audience, which Kazurinsky plays off a few times, and the ending, which merges two of Kazurinsky's desk bits Lovitz-style. (The final distinguishing feature of a stupid person? Reading the New York Post.)
  • Interesting note: Kazurinsky has appeared on every Saturday Night News installment since Sid Caesar's show in February, and every SNN installment this season except for the Ron Howard, Michael Keaton, and Rick Moranis/Dave Thomas shows.  He mostly did his same recurring bits (Dr. Jack Badofsky, Salute to Journalism, Havnagootiim Visnhnuuerheer), and did only three that didn't fall into these categories.
  • Mary Gross returns, still "spittin' mad" and commenting on recent TV cancellations and NBC's new pickups for next season; pretty much more of the same, although this ends with Gross doing a 180 and turning pleasant after Brad Hall informs her they received a call from NBC President Grant Tinker.
  • Joe Piscopo's Saturday Night Sports, returning for the first time since the Bridges show in February, features Piscopo asking Don King "Why the hair?" and giving him a haircut while he promotes upcoming fights. The audience enjoys this, but again it feels like empty cameo calories.

* 1/2

SKETCH: VIETNAM WHINER

  • Wendy (Robin Duke) finds Doug's (Joe Piscopo) war medals and flashes back to his time as a prisoner of the Viet Cong.
  • The worst Whiners sketch? There is a slightly funny part where the sergeant (Eddie Murphy) somehow hears Wendy's voiceover reading the letter she wrote Doug (which is her telling him about the people they know doing fine), but if the racial humor in Dern's Beer runner and "Dung In The Oval Office" wasn't bad enough, this sketch features Gary Kroeger, Brad Hall and Tim Kazurinsky as humiliatingly cartoonish Vietnamese. To Kroeger's credit, his portrayal is the least cartoonish.
  • It is heartening to see the audience applaud for Robin Duke's appearance at the beginning; as little as I care for the Whiner sketches, it did give her some much needed screentime.

* 1/2 

GUEST PERFORMANCE: HARRY ANDERSON

  • The magician and his wife Leslie Pollack compete to perform an escape before the other one does.
  • A bit of an improvement over the last few Harry Anderson appearances, with the usual great lines (particularly his "I appreciate the estimation" when the audience volunteer gives ample crotch room on one of the straps). His "future ex-wife" steals this from him at the very end when, after Harry tries to sabotage her and drags her chair off stage, she re-enters, jumping her chair back onto centre stage, emerges from her ropes, and presented with a crown and robe.

*** 1/2

SHOW: LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN

  • A tour of the NBC bathrooms and clips from Gumby's (Eddie Murphy) blooper special, "Pardon Me, Dammit, I Blew It".
  • A slight improvement over the first Letterman sketch. Gary Kroeger's Paul Shaffer gets some laughter and applause, and the pre-taped trip to the men's room (directed by Claude Kerven) features a Marv Albert cameo and an voice-only appearance from Piscopo's Tom Snyder impression. The main focus of this sketch, once again is Eddie Murphy as Gumby, whose "bloopers" are Gumby clips redubbed with Murphy's voice. The audience is a little quiet during the clips, but there's some nice back and forth between Piscopo and Murphy.
  • The Gumby clips are from The Small Planets (the "Who sneezed in my arpeggio?" scene, repurposed as Gumby firing Marvin Hamlisch from a special) and Ricochet Pete (Gumby walks into an avalanche, redubbed with a well-timed "OY!" and verbal abuse).

****

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "THE CELTIC SOUL BROTHERS"

  • Koch asks "How's New York City doing?"
  • Better performance and song than the big hit they performed for their first number.

SKETCH: BIRTHDAY A GO-GO

  • A dancer from Strip-O-Gram (Tim Kazurinsky) performs during a Ladies' Auxiliary meeting. 
  • A weak way to end the season, but it's silly and entertaining enough.  The reveal that Kazurinsky was an exhibitionist that escaped from a psych ward worked well enough.

** 1/2

GOODNIGHTS

  • Koch invites viewers to come visit New York City. Robin Duke looks particularly happy, and Brad Hall is wearing a Practical Theatre Co. shirt.  Julia Louis-Dreyfus yells "Happy birthday, Stevie!" (Stevie Wonder's birthday was the day before, though I'm not sure whether she's sending birthday greetings to last week's host or another Stevie).

FINAL THOUGHTS:

The 1982-83 season of SNL ends with a weaker outing; not a truly bad show, but it felt like everyone was going through the motions.  Koch, while not a performer, was still a decent emcee for tonight's show despite not being used for anything aside from introductions in the last hour, but he didn't really stray too far outside his safety zone (aside from "singing").  There are times when bringing back audience favorites can boost a particular week's show, but aside from Letterman, a lot of the return engagements tonight felt uninspired; at worst, they felt calculated.  In a way, it reminds me of how the current SNL often panders to the audience.  It may have been end-of-season exhaustion on the cast and writers' part, or they may have used their energy on Stevie Wonder's show, but it felt like they went for the easy jokes a few times too often this week.  

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Late Night with David Letterman
  • Guest Performance

SHOW LOWLIGHTS:

  • Whiners Vietnam
  • Saturday Night News
  • Bald No More
  • Ledge

MVP:

  • Joe Piscopo

CAST & GUEST BREAKDOWN:

cast

  • Robin Duke: 2 appearances [Vietnam Whiner, Birthday A Go-Go]
  • Mary Gross: 3 appearances [Ledge, Saturday Night News, Birthday A Go-Go]
  • Brad Hall: 3 appearances [Ledge, Saturday Night News, Vietnam Whiner]
  • Tim Kazurinsky: 4 appearances [Ledge, Saturday Night News, Vietnam Whiner, Birthday A Go-Go]
  • Gary Kroeger: 4 appearances [Ledge, Vietnam Whiner, Late Night with David Letterman, Birthday A Go-Go]; 1 voice-over [Mister Robinson's Neighborhood]
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus: 3 appearance [Ledge, Saturday Night News, Birthday A Go-Go]
  • Eddie Murphy: 5 appearances [Mister Robinson's Neighborhood, Ledge, Bald No More, Vietnam Whiner, Late Night with David Letterman]
  • Joe Piscopo: 5 appearances [Ledge, Bald No More, Saturday Night News, Vietnam Whiner, Late Night with David Letterman]; 1 voice-over [Late Night with David Letterman]

guests

  • Mayor Ed Koch: 3 appearances [Monologue, Ledge, Bald No More]
  • Kevin Rowland & Dexy's Midnight Runners: 2 appearances ["Come On Eileen", "The Celtic Soul Brothers"]
  • Harry Anderson: 1 appearance [Guest Performance]
  • Marv Albert: 1 appearance [Late Night with David Letterman]
  • Don King: 2 appearances [Bald No More, Late Night with David Letterman]
  • Leslie Pollock: 1 appearance [Guest Performance]

REBROADCAST HISTORY:

  • January 7, 1984

Additional screen captures from this episode are available here.