Classic SNL Review: February 15, 1986: Jerry Hall / Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble (S11E10)

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

OPENING: BAR

  • Pathological liar Tommy Flanagan (Jon Lovitz) tries to impress Jerry Hall by claiming to be The Rolling Stones’ manager.

  • The Liar is officially a hit character by this point, getting the honor of appearing in the show’s cold opening. Lovitz has some funny fibs in this one (like “Satisfaction” being originally titled “I Can’t Get No…Service In This Place”), but Hall doesn’t really do much, just react dismissively to Lovitz.

  • The payoff of the sketch was the Mick Jagger cameo, where he has Flanagan back him up on a flimsy alibi of his own. Watching this after years and years of “Sneaker Uppers” has made me weary of this kind of guest appearance, but at this point in the show’s history it wasn’t quite the cliche it would be.

  • As with all Liar sketches, this was likely written by Lovitz and A. Whitney Brown.

  • Rerun alterations: The second half of the sketch is replaced by the dress rehearsal take; the big visual tell is that the drinks on the bar suddenly disappear, but Jagger also wears a different shirt in the dress version. He also mugs a little bit for the camera during his entrance (you can also hear a camera shutter clicking and see a flash go off at one point) and his “yeah, that’s the ticket” gets a bigger response here.

***

MONTAGE

  • An audience member can be heard screaming during Jon Lovitz and (especially) Terry Sweeney’s credit; this is mixed out of the rerun and replaced with the sweetened audience cheer track that usually appears in the rerun version.

  • Damon Wayans is not credited this week and does not appear in tonight’s show.

  • After three shows as “Drewniak Music”, the name of the music store on the home base set has reverted to “Times Square Music”. As well, the wall behind the theatre doors is now a dark blue colour.

MONOLOGUE

  • Jerry Hall tells how she and Mick Jagger spent Valentine’s Day and explains why he’s in the dressing room with their kids.

  • Weak but brief. After some cringe-worthy jokes about Mick being pathetic for proposing (“…again”) and his “adolescent need for being a rock star”, and his being in the dressing room with their children because nobody can get a sitter in NYC on a Saturday night, Hall wraps up.

  • Rerun alterations: none

*

SKETCH: THE LIMITS OF THE IMAGINATION

  • Gay tourist (Terry Sweeney) finds himself as Brick to Maggie the Cat (Jerry Hall) during a visit to the plantation used to shoot Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

  • The third show in a row with a Limits sketch, and it seems like they’re running out of demonstrations of the imagination’s power for the Floating Head to use, and this one isn’t so much about a deliberately underwhelming twist as it is a straightforward situation. That said, I did enjoy this one largely due to Sweeney’s performance (“Lady, I’m a florist from San Francisco!”)

  • Rerun alterations: Mild audience sweetening.

*** 1/2

SKETCH: MODELS AGAINST THE WILDERNESS

  • Jerry Hall, Brooke Shields (Joan Cusack) and Julian Lynch (Robert Downey Jr.) battle the elements and a lack of cosmetics when their plane goes down in the arctic.

  • I wasn’t crazy about the main premise, but this had enough funny moments that elevated the sketch, including Terry Sweeney’s Teri Shields being a chain-smoking badass, Cusack playing Brooke Shields as intelligent, Downey’s panicky and ineffectual lynch, and the models (except for Lynch) making excuses not to go along with Bob Guccione (Randy Quaid).

  • Rerun alterations: Moderate audience sweetening. Some edits to tighten up the sequence with “Teri” falling off the airplane wing and the spinning newspaper. Downey’s “Those are not portfolios…” flub is relooped.

***

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: “SAY WHAT”

  • A good performance of the mostly instrumental lead track off the band’s Soul to Soul album, and a strong showcase for Stevie Ray Vaughan’s skills with the guitar and wah-wah pedal. The album version has a bit more 80s production (especially in the drum sounds), but I like how this felt like something you would have seen on Austin City Limits instead of SNL (especially Reese Wynans’ organ).

WEEKEND UPDATE

  • Best jokes: Eastern Airlines drug smuggling, Lee Iacocca, Donald Manes

  • Kind of an average night for Miller, though there’s a random non-sequitur about Nell Carter’s size after a joke dies, and the Donald Manes joke has a good swipe at Ed Koch.

  • The Weekend Update Dancers return, this time to interpret an item about Anatoly Shchransky’s release from a Soviet penal colony to Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know”. As I said in the previous review, it’s pretty much the same joke every time, though this outing has the visual of Miller boogying along in his chair while holding Israeli and Soviet flags in each hand.

  • According to A. Whitney Brown, the Weekend Update Dancers (whose members included Lila York) was a joke Lorne Michaels came up with, and the routines were choreographed by Pat Birch.

  • Evidently. the WU Dancers bit messed something up with Miller’s lapel mic, as his first line after the routine (“I feel so Jellybean Benitez tonight!”) is inaudible in the live show, and they have to resort to using the boom mic for him for the rest of the segment.

  • Nora Dunn debuts a new character, French sex kitten Babette (“A sex kitten never dies; we just get fluffy”), who just got back from hobnobbing with Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos in Manila. Dunn’s character work is good and there are some well-placed jokes (Marcos loves Babette’s dog Fifi so much, he let her vote), but it’s not particularly memorable.

  • Rerun alterations: Mild audience sweetening. Increased volume on “How Will I Know” as it fades out. Dennis Miller’s Jellybean Benitez line is mixed in from the boom mic feed.

***

SKETCH: MASTER THESPIAN

  • On the set of the jungle movie he directs and stars in, Master Thespian (Jon Lovitz) is convinced his co-star Rebecca Mayhew (Jerry Hall) reciprocates his romantic affection.

  • A lesser outing for Master Thespian; despite Lovitz’s usual strong work (including telling a camel “Be prepared to improvise!”). some innuendo involving a “big thunder stick”, and a really fake-looking snake, the audience wasn’t into this, and Jerry Hall’s acting (or lack thereof) was a big weak point (her terrible delivery of the “I was ACTING!” line gets absolutely no response). I did like the end with the camera pulling away as soon as Lovitz starts addressing it, though.

  • I have to wonder what was going through Danitra Vance’s head through this sketch; she’s literally holding a spear. Even though her character is portrayed as a more professional actress than Master Thespian, she has some of the most cringeworthy dialogue as the African tribeswoman who raised Hall’s character.

  • Some of those other African tribesman extras look familiar; were they some of the dancers from the Alvin Ailey School that appeared in Vegas Nancy?

  • As with the other Master Thespian sketches, this was likely written by Lovitz and A. Whitney Brown.

  • Rerun alterations: Heavy audience sweetening.

** 1/2

GUEST PERFORMANCE

  • Sam Kinison does stand-up about picking up on Valentine’s Day, marriage, Hell, and sings a “love song” he wrote to his ex-girlfriend.

  • This one wasn’t as strong as Kinison’s first two appearances; he seems to be treading a lot of the same old territory here while doubling down on the misogyny, and aside from the ending (with the obvious punchline that his “song” would be screamed), nothing really stood out about this one.

  • Kinison almost drops an f-bomb during the segment about Jesus never marrying (“About to fu…to change spiritually over into my power and into my kingdom…”

  • Rerun alterations: Mild to moderate audience sweetening. Kinison’s near-profanity muted.

**

SKETCH: LINE OF DEATH

  • On the Mediterranean, two sunbathing yachters (Jerry Hall and Nora Dunn) laugh off Col. Gaddafi's (Jon Lovitz) threats over crossing his Line of Death into Libyan waters.

  • Not particularly great and a fair bit draggy, but Lovitz has some funny lines (“Spell it any way you want” regarding his name, and “It is not a free country! That is the point I’m trying to make!”) and a bit of silliness with the freedom fighters not being able to swim.

  • Rerun alterations: Moderate audience sweetening.

**

SHOW: THE PAT STEVENS SHOW

  • Pat (Nora Dunn) gives tips for travelling; Jerry Hall shows her how hanging upside down helps maintain her good looks.

  • The third Pat Stevens sketch in as many shows is probably the weakest installment so far. Dunn does most of the heavy lifting, but she seems to be rushing through the travel tips segment (and stumbling on some of her lines). The interview segment unfortunately isn’t very good, again most the blame lays with Jerry Hall, who just seems to suck the energy out of the piece with her awkward pauses.

  • Rerun alterations: Mild audience sweetening. Replaced with dress rehearsal for most of interview portion except outro; this version has less awkward pauses than the live airing (and still has audible camera shutter snapping).

** (extra 1/2 for dress)

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: “CHANGE IT”

  • Jerry Hall and Mick Jagger introduce this performance together. In the live show, Hall is talking to Jagger and he realizes the camera is on before she does; he laughs as she starts her intro.

  • Stevie’s brother Jimmie Vaughan from The Fabulous Thunderbirds joins the band on rhythm guitar for a soulful rendition of a song penned by Doyle Bramhall.

  • Rerun alterations: The first few seconds of Hall and Jagger’s intro are removed.

SKETCH: SORE TOE

  • Leon’s (Randy Quaid) sore toe is precariously close to a swinging hammer, a snapping turtle, and a bowl of hot soup on a rickety table.

  • A deliberately silly 10-to-1, and an improvement over the last few sketches, aided by some unplanned bloopers involving an uncooperative turtle and a prop table falling apart. I also got a laugh out of Robert Downey Jr. wildly swinging his hammer and Jerry Hall

  • Joan Cusack’s delivery/attempt at a Texan accent is as bad as her performances at the beginning of the season (“National Inquirer Theatre”, “The Blue, The Gray, and The Yellow”)

  • Written by Jack Handey; according to Handey in Live from New York, Mick Jagger did not like the ending where the father accidentally hangs himself.

  • Rerun alterations: Mild audience sweetening. A missed cue is edited out and a second of dead air is removed toward the end.

*** 1/2

GOODNIGHTS

  • Jerry Hall says “Thank y’all for coming” as Mick Jagger gives her a bouquet of roses; they kiss. Randy Quaid has daughter Amanda on his shoulders.

  • Don Pardo previews the next show’s guests (including Mike the Dog) and invites the audience to “be my Valentine” before asking “Did you know St. Valentine was the Roman god of foreplay?”

Final thoughts: The weakest show in a while. The limitations of having a model with no acting experience (at the time) were apparent, and while the writers seemed like they were trying to mitigate this with a lot of recurring sketches (including the third Limits of the Imagination and Pat Stevens Show in a row), for the most part the sketches were underwhelming. Terry Sweeney still got laughs, and Nora Dunn, Jon Lovitz and Randy Quaid all did their usual good work, but there weren’t as many highlights to balance the lows.

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Sore Toe

  • The Limits of the Imagination

SHOW LOWLIGHTS:

  • Monologue

  • Guest Performance

  • The Pat Stevens Show

  • Line of Death

MVP:

  • Terry Sweeney

CAST & GUEST BREAKDOWN:

cast

  • Joan Cusack: 2 appearances [Models Against The Wilderness, Sore Toe]

  • Robert Downey Jr.: 3 appearances [Models Against The Wilderness, Line of Death, Sore Toe]

  • Nora Dunn: 3 appearances [Weekend Update, Line of Death, The Pat Stevens Show]

  • Anthony Michael Hall: absent

  • Jon Lovitz: 3 appearances [Bar, Master Thespian, Line of Death]

  • Dennis Miller: 1 appearance [Weekend Update]

  • Randy Quaid: 3 appearances [The Limits of the Imagination, Models Against The Wilderness, Sore Toe]

  • Terry Sweeney: 2 appearances [The Limits of the Imagination, Models Against The Wilderness]

  • Danitra Vance: 2 appearances [The Limits of the Imagination, Master Thespian]

unbilled crew, extras and bit players

  • Mark McKinney: 1 voice-over [The Pat Stevens Show]

  • Nils Nichols: 1 appearance [The Limits of the Imagination]

  • Don Pardo: 2 voice-overs [Models Against The Wilderness, Master Thespian]

guests

  • Jerry Hall: 8 appearances [Bar, Monologue, The Limits of the Imagination, Models Against The Wilderness, Master Thespian, Line of Death, The Pat Stevens Show, Sore Toe]

  • Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble: 2 appearances [“Say What”, “Change It”]

  • Sam Kinison: 1 appearance [Guest Performance]

  • Mick Jagger: 1 appearance [Bar]

  • Jimmie Vaughan: 1 appearance [“Change It”]

REBROADCAST HISTORY:

  • June 7, 1986

Known alterations:

  • Trojans II (from 12/14/85) added

  • Audience sweetening:

    • None to mild: Bar, Monologue, The Limits of the Imagination, Weekend Update, The Pat Stevens Show, Sore Toe

    • Moderate: Models Against The Wilderness, Guest Performance, Line of Death

    • Heavy: Master Thespian

  • Edits: Models Against The Wilderness, Weekend Update, Guest Performance, “Change It” intro, Sore Toe

  • Dress substitutions: Bar (second half), The Pat Stevens Show (most of interview)

Additional screen captures from this episode are available here.