SNL: S01E17... HOST: RON NESSEN... DATE: APRIL 17, 1976


The Best Really Are the Best... Or Are They???


So the second half of season one hasn't been all that exciting. Again, I've found that I'm entertained enough to satisfied even though there might not be as many laugh-out-loud moments as I would like. Often, there will be one stand-out sketch in an otherwise middle of the road episode that I'll recognize from a best of compilation. I notice that when this happens, I will instantly perk up and prepare myself to laugh. This leaves me wondering if these classics have an unfair advantage.

Last night, while watching the episode hosted but the Press Secretary from the time, which lowered my expectation to laugh. It was a fine enough episode just like I mentioned above but about three sketched in I saw that start to a sketch that I recognized in about half second after seeing Dan Aykroyd's suit.

I instantly sat with better posture and watch with enthusiasm as Aykroyd went on to pitch his famous fish blender (AKA The Bass-O-Matic.) About halfway into the fake commercial, I started to wonder, "Is this really the best?"

I was still thoroughly entertained by what I saw but was now wondering if I was actually a fan of the content or the nostalgia that comes from watching this over the years. When broken down this is just a meat smoothie joke which I could see as a diet fad in the upcoming year. Though I still find it funny, in this case especially, I know that it's not the content that triggers my response.

I'm starting to wonder how these classics would hold up against some of the other sketches that have gotten large laughs out of me that I'm seeing for the first time. Or at least the first time that I remember since they weren't all beaten into my head through best of and replays. I still think they'd be good, I'm just wondering how good they actually are.

Oh well, there's my thought for the day, and now I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. The show starts with a repeat of The Dead String Quartet sketch from a couple weeks earlier, not sure if they just replayed the original or if this was a remake, as everything was the same except the end which was a pre-recorded introduction from Ford saying, "Live from New York it's Saturday Night.

  2. Ron Nessen then opened the show. I never heard of this man before, and when I found out, he was the White House Press Secretary from the time I instantly knew why.

  3. This was followed by the Bass-O-Matic sketch the triggered the introductory thoughts that are written above.

  4. Chevy as Ford meets with Nessen to discuss whether or not he should do the show. This was another Ford is dumb sketch without much meat to hang onto after the passage of time.

  5. Next was an ad that was making fun of Smucker's campaign that points out how crazy their company name is. The rest of the sketch was filled with competing jelly companies that fought to come up with the craziest name until they get to the point where they can't mention it on TV.

  6. The Patti Smith Group then sang Gloria.

  7. This was followed by the first reoccurring segment called Press Secretaries through time. In this installment, Nesses announces the death of Catherine the Great adding some historical jokes that I had to piece together due to my memories of the true story being so vague.

  8. There was then a lie detector sketch where Gilda Radner's voice acted some politician’s daughter, asking questions to her fiancé. This person was Nixon's nephew about what he knew of Watergate. All we see is the lie detector machine that scribbles like crazy every time he lies.

  9. Belushi then played a stoner army recruiter explaining how expectations have changed now that it's an all-volunteer army.

  10. This was followed by the news. Thought there were no highlights in the first half it's still fun to watch to get a hint of what was going on at the time and how comedy attempts to shape views of the day.

  11. The news’s commercial spot was a repeat of the Abbey Hoffman line of graffiti wallpaper.

  12. The news returned to Emily Litella ranting about the upcoming Presidential Erection.

  13. Next was a fun mini-documentary interviewing sanitation worker/garbage men on the strange things that they've found.

  14. Gilda Radner then starred in a fake commercial for carbonated douche.

  15. Dan Aykroyd then introduced us to his Tom Snyder impersonation an interview with the Press Secretary in a way that was almost too real to be considered a sketch.

  16. Next was another home movie entry, this time it was a bunch of men in the bathroom who all start to sing the moment they step up to the urinal to pee.

  17. The was followed by the second installment of Press Secretary Through Time this time he was explaining the situation with Oedipus.

  18. Chevy and Jane are then in bed together and get interrupted by the Supreme Court who wanted to bust them for performing illegal sex acts and then end up watching them to make sure they are not breaking any laws.

  19. Next, we are back to the Press Secretary Through Time who explains that Jefferson was accused of having slaves, but these were the children Jefferson had with slave so where there for family and not slaves making everything just fine.

  20. Billy Crystal then came out and did his old jazzman.

  21. This was followed by a sketch that I hope they repeat called Misconception where disprove the, "Too many cooks, spoil the broth" cliché when a whole bunch of cooks makes a perfect batch of broth.

  22. The Patti Smith Group returns to perform My Generation.

  23. The host and cast then come out to close out the show by saying good night.

As I already said was an average episode that ran a little dry because they had the Press Secretary as their host and kind of stuck to watered down political commentary throughout the show. Finding my top three favorites was a bit of a challenge but here are my thoughts.

I was tempted to top the list with the Bass-O-Matic, but I think it got enough time in the intro above, so my official number one would be the Misconception sketch about too many cooks spoil the broth. I like the concept and hope that they keep this up. Next, I liked the short documentary with the garbage man because of how detached the guy was as he explained the time of year when the dead bodies in the Hudson thaw out enough to float to the top. Finally, I liked the stoner recruiter but mainly because I'm a stoner blogger who loves Belushi.


Read More From Ron Nessen:

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Matt Bunker

I started out with a goal of becoming a paid screenwriter. I had no interest in any other aspect of filmmaking. I received and scholarship to The Vancouver Film School's Writing for Film and Television program where I graduated in 2005. I fell in love with being on set during my first non-school produced short, . I loved being around all the creative people, seeing people having fun while working. The whole liking your job was a new world to me, so I decided to give it a shot. I volunteered for any project I could, doing what ever was needed. The set was my Film School this time. While working as a PA on a feature I was informed that the DP wanted the three tallest PAs to help out in the grip and electric department. That is when I found the department that felt like the best fit for me while I continued to write.