Classic SNL Review: May 12, 1984: Billy Crystal, Mayor Ed Koch, Edwin Newman, Father Guido Sarducci (Don Novello) & Betty Thomas / The Cars (S09E19)

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


  • When Sammy Davis Jr. (Billy Crystal) expresses chagrin over not being considered to host tonight's SNL, Frank Sinatra (Joe Piscopo) brings him to Studio 8H.
  • A passing of the torch in some ways; this is the last appearance of Joe Piscopo's signature SNL impression, but Crystal's Sammy upstages him, from the (body double assisted) breakdancing scene to the "High Hopes" variant with the "Maniac". It was a bit long, but the use of taped and live elements was well done and fit the "event" nature of tonight's show. 
  • Adding to the event feeling of this sketch is a rare on-camera appearance by Don Pardo.
  • According to Bob Tischler in Shales & Miller's Live From New York, he and Crystal co-wrote this sketch; Piscopo only agreed to participate when they gave Sinatra a limo. The pretaped segment was directed by regular film unit director Claude Kerven.
  • Not sure who was playing the limo driver, but I love the little bit with the car going in reverse half a block down 50th Street to 30 Rock.

*** 1/2


  • Joel Hodgson has a slightly different picture than the one used in his other appearances.
  • The SNL Band has a bigger horn section for this week's show, including Alan P. Rubin on trumpet (Tom Malone plays trombone this week). 


  • Tonight's hosts are introduced.
  • No rating. Betty Thomas thanks the audience and says they'll be right back, and that's it, though you can see Billy Crystal wiping his Sammy Davis Jr. makeup off, and Don Novello walking off the stage before everyone to get to the next sketch.


  • Willie Nelson (Jim Belushi) has a new duet partner on "To All The Girls I Loved Before" and other love songs: Father Guido Sarducci.
  • Not much to it other than the one joke, but despite that, this had its charm. Novello has a decent singing voice, and he and Belushi seemed to be having fun.
  • It sonded like they screwed up "You Don't Bring Me Flowers"; Belushi and Novello both sing "You don't sing me love songs".



  • Now that Eddie Murphy has left SNL, Mayor Koch uses the Neighborhood to plug his book; Worthington Clotman (Tim Kazurinsky) disapproves of the free advertising.
  • Mayor Koch has the perfect cadence for a kids' show host, and this was a great way to address the fact that Eddie Murphy was officially gone from SNL, with the Mayor saying he got hired "over hundreds of qualified applicants who weren't the mayor." Worthington Clotman made for a good foil.

*** 1/2


  • A dramatization shows the bloody consequences of not using the device.
  • I've always loved this one, which is a somewhat overlooked entry in the "fake blood spewing" category of sketches, and Brad Hall's entrance (his final live sketch appearance on the show) is the perfect use of the "how many times has this happened to you?" cliche.
  • The kid wearing the device appears to be the same boy from the orphanage in the Whiner Adoption sketch.



  • Father Guido Sarducci asks a variety of questions to NYC drivers.
  • This is a bit of a companion piece to the "man in the street" segment from the other Father Guido Sarducci show. It's entertaining enough, but it always felt a little like a filler piece compared to the other sketches around it.
  • One of the drivers (red bandana) is actor Gregory Salata, who had a recurring role on Kate & Allie as Kate's plumber boyfriend around this time.

** 1/2


  • Nerdy oral surgeon Ira Needleman's (Gary Kroeger) video dating tape is an elaborate music video.
  • A breakthrough for Gary Kroeger and one of the most memorable things he did over his three years on the show. The bookends with Robin Duke showing Julia Louis-Dreyfus the different tapes were alright and helped give the video context, but this is Kroeger's piece to carry, and he pulls off the right balance between his character's nerdiness and swagger in the video. 
  • According to BMI, this was written by Eliot Wald, Nate Herman and Andrew Kurtzman; the music video segment was directed by Henry Holtzman, with choreography by Theodore Pappas.



  • Mayor Koch introduces the band by suggesting he fix NYC's traffic problems by replacing automobiles with "the fabulous Cars".
  • This song was released as a single that same week. There are some staging issues (Elliot Easton's guitar solo is performed mostly in shadow), but the SNL performance is good: a little less slick than the Mutt Lange-produced studio version on Heartbeat City, but it has a crunch that wasn't really present in a lot of the SNL musical performances that season. 
  • The repeat swaps this performance and "Drive" in the running order.


  • 3-San Karate School instructors Moe (Tim Kazurinsky), Larry (Gary Kroeger) and Curly (Joe Piscopo) teach a women's self-defence class how to ward off slapstick attacks.
  • This was a weaker sketch; Kazurinsky, Kroeger and especially Piscopo do well with the slapstick, but from a writing perspective, this was underwhelming, and the women didn't really have much to do here. What saves the sketch from being a forgettable Three Stooges spoof is the last minute or so, when Piscopo's belly bump to Betty Thomas causes his pants to fall down several times; while that doesn't make the sketch a classic, it's worth tuning in for that.

** 1/2


  • Edwin Newman anchors tonight; again, his jokes are few in number, mostly commenting on the growing communist boycott of the Olympics, and one about authors enrolling in Mayor Koch's book plugging course. He stumbles a bit on the "ABC orders 156 hours of Battle of the Network Stars" joke, but he worked as an anchor tonight.
  • Dr. Ruth Westheimer (Mary Gross) is back for the first time since December for Mother's Day: she praises motherhood (good sex and motherhood go hand-in-hand, she says, "or something-in-something"), and brings out her even-tinier mother, who taught her everything she knew about sex. Pretty much the usual Dr. Ruth bit, but I'm curious who got stuck under the desk as the mother.
  • Dr. Jack Badofsky (Tim Kazurinsky) returns for a final appearance, listing a series of medical disorders named after celebrities. An improvement over the last few Dr. Jack appearances; as usual, there are a few groaners in there (Raymond Burrsitis), but if nothing else, this is the one that gave the world "Syphyllis Schlafly".
  • Getty Images has a few Dr. Jack jokes that were cut from the dress rehearsal version: "Jackie Onacysts" and "Alger Hissterectomy".
  • Fernando (Billy Crystal) is back for the second week in a row, miffed because he expected to "Fernando the news" again tonight, while telling Newman that he looks marvelous. Once again, Crystal connects with the audience and gets laughs with his catchphrase, but this merely felt like an excuse to bring the character back again.



  • Father Guido Sarducci introduces Timothy Hutton, who directed the music video for this song.
  • The minimalist synth-based ballad gets an appropriately minimalist presentation, with Ben Orr front and centre and the rest of the band behind him. Not the most exciting performance in the world, but it fits the song.


  • Edwin Newman's refusal to play along and pander to Trudy (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) puts the show's future in jeopardy.
  • The audience wasn't quite into this, but it built well on the first sketch, with Jim Belushi's character caught in the middle between the unseen Trudy and Edwin Newman, whose eye-rolling disdain makes him an even better foil than Piscopo's character was.

*** 1/2


  • Joel Hodgson plays Mystery Date with two women in the audience, demonstrates the Levitron, and wears a spring-snake suit.
  • Hodgson's final SNL appearance; this was a little funnier than the last two times he appeared on the show, with some nice interplay between him and the audience members ("She got the dud. You're going to have to go bowling. Right now.")
  • Betty Thomas calls Hodgson "Joel Hodges" in her introduction.

*** 1/2


  • The Top of the Sushi restaurant in the World Trade Centre deals with skeptical customers and Godzilla dropping by without a reservation.
  • This was an interesting way to get all five hosts into the same sketch, but this was a weak ending to the show. The yellowface aspect is the most obviously problematic element, but the whole thing just doesn't really come together; Billy Crystal does his best, though. The biggest laugh comes from Koch using the opportunity to plug his book (which bores Godzilla to death).
  • Crystal's character is named after SNL's long-serving production designer Akira Yoshimura.
  • This was removed from the repeat version of the show.

* 1/2


  • Mayor Koch says New York City is a very special place, and Saturday Night Live is a very special show. Both Joe Piscopo and Jim Belushi have their sons with them.
  • Don Pardo announces next week's rerun of the Stevie Wonder show and thanks the audience.
  • Robert Belushi would later grow up to play bartender Linus in the last season of How I Met Your Mother.


SNL ends the season on a stronger note than it did the last few years, thanks in part to the added novelty of having a multi-host show. This was an interesting idea, but while tonight's show was strong, I felt that the number of different hosts the writers had to integrate perhaps spread things a bit too thin, and it felt like there wasn't that much of a regular SNL show underneath. For the most part, the cast took a backseat to the hosts, but Jim Belushi cements himself as the show's utility man, Joe Piscopo has a strong final night, and Gary Kroeger manages to get one of his all-time best performances in Needleman. Perhaps not coincidentally, the two most memorable sketches of the night were the ones without the guest performers. However, Dick Ebersol and Bob Tischler's gamble paid off, as tonight's show brought the show its first Emmy nomination since Lorne Michaels' departure in 1980. Of the five hosts, Billy Crystal dominated tonight as a performer; the others mostly stuck to their strengths, though Betty Thomas was underused.


  • Needleman
  • Mikko's Got Your Nose Safety Guard
  • Hello, Trudy!
  • Mayor Koch's Neighborhood
  • Guest Performance
  • Frank & Sammy


  • Sushi Restaurant
  • Karate School before Piscopo's pants fall


Billy Crystal



  • Jim Belushi: 4 appearances [Sarducci & Nelson, Needleman, Hello Trudy!, Sushi Restaurant]
  • Robin Duke: 3 appearances [Needleman, Karate School, Sushi Restaurant]
  • Mary Gross: 3 appearance [Mikko's Got Your Nose Safety Guard, Karate School, Saturday Night News]
  • Brad Hall: 2 appearances [Mikko's Got Your Nose Safety Guard, Needleman]; 1 voice-over [Sarducci & Nelson]
  • Tim Kazurinsky: 3 appearances [Mayor Koch's Neighborhood, Karate School, Saturday Night News]
  • Gary Kroeger: 3 appearances [Needleman, Karate School, Sushi Restaurant]
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus: 4 appearances [Mikko's Got Your Nose Safety Guard, Needleman, Karate School, Sushi Restaurant]; 1 voice-over [Hello Trudy!]
  • Joe Piscopo: 4 appearances [Frank & Sammy, Mikko's Got Your Nose Safety Guard, Karate School, Sushi Restaurant]

crew and extras

  • Don Pardo: 1 appearance [Frank & Sammy]


  • Billy Crystal: 4 appearances [Frank & Sammy, Monologue, Saturday Night News, Sushi Restaurant]
  • Mayor Ed Koch: 3 appearances [Monologue, Mayor Koch's Neighborhood, Sushi Restaurant]
  • Edwin Newman: 4 appearances [Monologue, Saturday Night News, Hello Trudy!, Sushi Restaurant]
  • Don Novello: 4 appearances [Monologue, Sarducci & Nelson, Guido on the Street, Sushi Restaurant]
  • Betty Thomas: 3 appearance [Monologue, Karate School, Sushi Restaurant]
  • The Cars: 2 appearances ["Magic", "Drive"]
  • Joel Hodgson: 1 appearance [Guest Performance]
  • Timothy Hutton: 1 appearance [intro to "Drive"]


  • October 27, 1984
  • August 16, 1986

Known alterations:

  • Sushi Restaurant removed
  • Buddweiser Light and Look At Our Video added

The repeat version also included three newly-taped segments with Billy Crystal and Jim Belushi on the temporary 1984-85 set, where they set up the beginning of the show, introduce "Look At Our Video" and "Karate School", and announce upcoming shows. Several of the shows' lineups changed before the air date: Sheila E. was the original scheduled musical guest for November 3's Michael McKean / Chaka Khan show (Belushi asks Crystal "Do you think Prince will show up?"), while November 17's Ed Asner / The Kinks show was supposed to be hosted by Bill Murray.

Additional screencaps from this episode are available here.