Classic SNL Review: November 7, 1981: Lauren Hutton / Rick James & The Stone City Band (S07E05)

RATING SYSTEM:

***** - Classic
****  - Great
***   - Good / Average
**    - Meh
*      - Bad

OPENING: EXXICO

  • The oil company's threat is direct: "Stay out of our way or we'll kill you". 
opening.jpg
  • Another quick and easy opening.  The main reason this works so well because is it's the last opening that uses Exxico.

***

COMMERCIAL: HERE'S COS

  • Frequent Tonight Show guest host Bill Cosby (Eddie Murphy) has another new album of his most irritating staple bits.  At the end of the commercial, stage manager Joe Dicso tells Eddie that Lauren Hutton is waiting for him in her dressing room.
  • A nasty slam at Cosby; I can imagine a similar sketch would work with Jay Leno.  Eddie was funny but Cosby is one of his weaker impressions.

***1/2

SKETCH: DRESSING ROOM

  • Lauren flirts with Eddie Murphy in her dressing room and invites him to stay as she changes for her next sketch.  As he waits, Joe Piscopo magically appears and advises him that she is still way out of his league.
  • There were a few funny parts (namely Murphy's completely visual impression of Stevie Wonder) and a few good lines like Piscopo rattling off a list of men Lauren has been linked with and adding "These are white guys, do you know them?", but otherwise, this was forgettable.

**

SKETCH: HAIL TO THE CHIEF

  • A sketch from Ronald Reagan's (voice of Joe Piscopo) perspective as Ed Meese (Tony Rosato) prepares him for his upcoming press conference.  Reagan is still convinced he is only playing a role in a movie.
  • A very good piece with an excellent premise.  It's good to see SNL do something different with their political sketches.
  • According to a 1981 New York magazine article, this was co-written by Barry W. Blaustein and David Sheffield, although according to 1981-82 writer Joe Bodolai's LiveVideo channel, he came up with the original concept of the sketch.
  • Piscopo did a decent Reagan, easily an improvement over Charles Rocket, but other people who came after Piscopo would easily better his impression.
  • My favorite lines were Reagan commenting that his character was becoming "awfully unsympathetic" and Meese telling the makeup lady that Reagan "looks like a pumpkin".

****

COMMERCIAL: TRANSEASTERN AIRLINES

  • A number of different airline employees cheerily introduce themselves and how they'll inconvenience you on your next flight.
  • One of the best pieces of the entire season: all the featured cast were good in their roles, but I thought Robin Duke (as the security officer who seems more than happy she's going to lie about ruining passengers' film with the X-ray) and Mary Gross (as the dim stewardess) had the funniest parts of the commercial.
  • The syntax on Gross' line about being as bright as a small appliance bulb gives the piece away as one of O'Donoghue's.

***** 

COMMERCIAL: WHISPER

  • Lauren Hutton's bubble bath of choice also helps her get her dishes sparkling; she demonstrates with dinnerware she has soaking in the tub with her.
  • I wasn't particularly crazy about this one; nothing particularly awful about it, just a forgettable commercial parody.  Hutton's delivery on her lines also seemed a bit off.
  • Hutton has trouble finding the dog bowl she's supposed to lift from the soapy water; I don't think that part was scripted.

** 

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "GIVE IT TO ME BABY"

  • Definitely one of the standout performances of the entire season.

COMMERCIAL: THE KHADDAFFI LOOK [REPEAT OF 10/03/81]

SKETCH: CHEAP LAFFS: MACHO WIPE

  • Tony Rosato introduces another idea rejected by the show for cheapness: a super abrasive toilet paper for real men.
  • A step below the Cheap Laffs from Saint James, but I did laugh at Piscopo wiping the finish off with the baseball bat, and Lauren's last line: "All my men use Macho Wipe or nothing at all."
  • Second appearance of the dressing room set from earlier tonight.

*** 

SNL NEWSBREAK: WITH BRIAN DOYLE-MURRAY, INTERVIEW WITH PRINCESS DI (CHRISTINE EBERSOLE), FEATURE BY TED KOPPEL (JOE PISCOPO), COMMENTARY BY EDDIE MURPHY

  • Best jokes: Oil of Olay, Gary Coleman
  • They still do the letters falling routine yet again, but Doyle-Murray changes it up a little by putting a hard hat on as they drop, only for a few more to fall after he takes it off.
  • I admit I could see the Oil of Olay punchline coming from a mile away, but I still laughed.
  • Christine Ebersole's Princess Di bit was silly; the best line was where she pinpoints the exact time of conception.
  • Like a lot of Piscopo's impressions, Ted Koppel has been done better by later cast members, but this was one of the funnier news pieces of the entire season, particularly Begin (Tim Kazurinsky) and Arafat's (Tony Rosato) argument degenerating into childish insults ("You look like Ringo Starr!" "You look like Phil Silvers!") and Koppel's mass of hair weighing down his body to the point where he tips over.
  • Eddie Murphy's "animals landing on their feet" experiment commentary was one of his weaker bits, but I did enjoy him describing the parrot angrily insulting him as he plummeted from the balcony, and him inviting Doyle-Murray and telling him to bring the kids.  I just realized this is the fifth Newsbreak in a row with Murphy.
  • Best Newsbreak of the season so far.

***

SKETCH: HARLEQUIN ROMANCE NOVELS FOR MEN

  • The pronouns are reversed when a man (Joe Piscopo) disguises himself as a woman to join Denise Dunn-Davis (Lauren Hutton) and her brutish crew on a jungle expedition.
  • I think it would have worked a lot better as a shorter commercial parody; the bit at the end with Mary Gross describing how each book is pretty much exactly the same and the tagline about how so-called "great authors" aren't available in supermarkets would have supported its own segment.
  • Piscopo was pretty good as the meek, submissive male.  Hutton didn't really add too much to the sketch, but Christine Ebersole and Robin Duke were funny as her fellow crude, aggressive explorers, especially Duke growling "Come on baby, we're having a party, and it's in your lap, dreamboat!".

***

SHOW: REACH OUT

  • Brooke Shields (Mary Gross) and Cheryl Tiegs (Christine Ebersole) offer solutions and advice to audience members that would only work for models.  Lauren Hutton expresses her outrage at the "models are dumb" stereotypes in the sketch.


  • Good concept.  I have a feeling Rosie Shuster had a hand in writing this since she was one of the audience members asking questions (does anyone know who played the accented sweatshop worker?) and it feels like something she would have contributed to the show in the first five years.  The best parts were the shot at Brooke Shields' mother and Hutton's examples of how models are intelligent ("Cybill Shepherd invented the laser beam!").

*** 

COMMERCIAL: VELVET JONES SCHOOL OF TECHNOLOGY

  • Velvet Jones (Eddie Murphy) hasn't forgotten about the men with his new pimping manual, complete with specialized training on kicking hos in the butt.
  • Basically a rewrite of the first commercial, but still some funny stuff in there, like the long title of the manual having to be printed on both the front and back covers and how graduates would still be eligible for their welfare checks.
  • Was Mel Brandt supposed to come in with the ordering instructions at the end?  Eddie pauses awkwardly before reading the line about the price.

*** 

SHOW: REALITY '81

  • Infomercial host Don Davis (Joe Piscopo) says the world was better when Coca-Cola still contained a trace of cocaine, and touts Big Baser, a product to restore the drug to the soft drink.
  • A weaker segment; the main laughs came from some of the stock footage being used.

** 

GUEST PERFORMANCE: WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS

  • In his first television appearance ever, the Beat icon reads excerpts from "Naked Lunch" and "Nova Express".
  • Michael O'Donoghue defied Dick Ebersol's order to have Burroughs cut his reading down by half.  I can see why Ebersol would be concerned that an old man who looks and sounds like a funeral director reading at length wouldn't appeal to a mass audience, but fortunately, O'Donoghue's instincts were correct.
  • I preferred this over the Warhol films because those segments seemed like self-congratulatory wanking; in contrast, this was a straightforward no-frills reading.
  • SNL would never go for something like this, which is a shame because someone like David Sedaris giving a reading would also be interesting to have on the show.
  • The audience was actually quite receptive and there was laughter peppered throughout the entire reading.

****

FILM: "BLOWING UP A BUILDING" [REPEAT FROM 10/10/81]

  • They used a different credits card for the repeat showing, which credits the demolition effect.

SHOW: BITTER PEOPLE

  • Comedian Pat Cooper (Joe Piscopo) has some nasty words about Lola Falana, Tom Jones and Jerry Vale.
  • This pretty much died and was mercifully taken out of the repeat version.

*

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "SUPER FREAK"

  • Another great energetic performance.

FILM: "ART IS FICIAL" - TOM SCHILLER

  • A French documentary chronicles the final years of "literary dog" Maurice Blaget.
  • A more obscure Schiller piece and not quite as accessible as his other work, but I do admire how he actually recreates the look of the type of film or program he is parodying to add an extra level to the joke; this is in somewhat blurry and hard-to-see black and white.
  • The funniest part was the reference to Dadaism with the "(unintelligible)" subtitle.

*** 

GOODNIGHTS

 

FINAL THOUGHTS: 

A good show this week, with less weak material than usual for this season.  Even the normally lackluster SNL Newsbreak got a bit of a boost this week.  As a host, Hutton really didn't add too much and she wasn't in any of the show's strongest segments, but there wasn't much that was really too bad, and this episode was more consistently good than normal for the season.

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS

  • Transeastern Airlines
  • Hail To The Chief
  • William S. Burroughs
  • Here's Cos

EPISODE LOWLIGHTS

  • Bitter People
  • Whisper
  • Reality '81
  • Dressing Room

MVP

  • Joe Piscopo

CAST & GUEST BREAKDOWN

cast

  • Robin Duke: 3 appearances [Transeastern Airlines, Harlequin Romance Novels For Men, Reach Out]
  • Christine Ebersole: 5 appearances [Hail To The Chief, Transeastern Airlines, SNL Newsbreak, Harlequin Romance Novels For Men, Reach Out] ; 1 voiceover [Transeastern Airlines]
  • Mary Gross: 4 appearances [Transeastern Airlines, Harlequin Romance Novels For Men, Reach Out, Bitter People]
  • Tim Kazurinsky: 3 appearances [Hail To The Chief, Whisper, SNL Newsbreak]
  • Eddie Murphy: 5 appearances [Here's Cos, Dressing Room, Transeastern Airlines, SNL Newsbreak, Velvet Jones School Of Technology]
  • Joe Piscopo: 8 appearances [Dressing Room, Hail To The Chief, Transeastern Airlines, Cheap Laffs, SNL Newsbreak, Harlequin Romance Novels For Men, Reality '81, Bitter People]
  • Tony Rosato: 3 appearances [Hail To The Chief, Cheap Laffs, SNL Newsbreak]

featured players

  • Brian Doyle-Murray: 2 appearances [Hail To The Chief, SNL Newsbreak]

crew and extras

  • Joe Dicso: 1 appearance [Dressing Room]
  • Andy Murphy: 1 appearance [Hail To The Chief]
  • Rosie Shuster: 1 appearance [Reach Out]
  • Tom Schiller: 1 voiceover [Art Is Ficial]

guests

  • Lauren Hutton: 5 appearances [Dressing Room, Whisper, Cheap Laffs, Harlequin Romance Novels For Men, Reach Out]
  • Rick James & The Stone City Band: 2 appearances ["Give It To Me Baby", "Super Freak"]
  • William S. Burroughs: 1 appearance [Guest performance]

REBROADCAST HISTORY:

  • January 2, 1982
  • July 24, 1982

Known alterations:

  • Exxico opening, The Khadaffi Look, Blpwing Up A Building and Bitter People removed
  • Two Faces of Jerry, Guardian Angel and The Clams added from Donald Pleasence (10/31/81).

Additional screen captures from this episode can be seen here.