SNL: S01E23... HOST: LOUISE LASSER... DATE: JULY 24, 1976

or...

Character or Crazy

It was very easy to tell by the way the audience reacted to her introduction that if I was around during the time I would have definitely known of Louise Lasser because the longer the episode played out the easier it was to piece together the math that led this trainwreck to host the show.

Don't get me wrong, I found myself fascinated by this episode as I tried to separate the crazy from the character while watching every awkward moment as they played out live. I guess it wasn't that bad. I kept swaying back and forth whether the character of the host was real, drug induced or if she was in the middle of a mental breakdown.

All the while, she did this while still feeling like everything under control. It was hard to tell if she was the female Andy Kaufman or if she was just a convincing meth head who stumbled onto the stage. Things got sadder when it felt like the latter as she shared her tale of getting arrested at the peak of her fame. 

The way she shared this story felt like a cry for help from a performance artist who's actually trapped in the character of themselves that they created to cope with the world. Stuck in a world between two realities trying to convince both sides that everything is alright, which is a space I feel I occupy on a less observed plane.

Above is how I felt about the host's duties, below is the rest of what was seen as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. The show starts with a battle of egos between Chevy and Belushi, they both got back from the first break and have now experienced fame. Apparently, there was stuff said between Belushi and Chase as the scene was set that they were making a truce until Belushi sucker punches Chase creating the fall to open the show.
  2. Louise Lasser opens the show. I've never heard of her but the way the audience is reacting she must had done something pretty big pretty recently. It goes on for quite a while. It's hard to tell if she really nervous, playing a nervous character, or is high on meth. The way she rambles leads me to believe it's all three of the above but the way she runs off stage and the camera follows is a good sign that it's acting this time. This is still technically the opening as she is now locked in her dressing room and everyone is trying to talk her into coming out. She's finally lured out by the Land shark, but I'm disappointed when he doesn't eat her.
  3. This was followed by a PSA by General Idi "VD" Amin who does a spot about the seriousness of syphilis.  
  4. Next was a parody of a Swedish film where it is just a couple sitting at the table looking into one another's eyes as they trick death into going out for pizza when there is no pizza in Sweden, at least according to the movie.
  5. Louise Lasser then plays Squeaky Fromme as her and Jane Curtin sell coffee pots made from their own hair.
  6. Louise Lasser and a Golden Retrieve have tea and Lasser apologizes for lying about throwing the stick.
  7. Dan Aykroyd then plays a TV repairman that briefly tells a story of the history of TV with one weird futuristic lie out of nowhere. We then zoom in to see how the TV works to see Lorraine Newman, Jane Curtin and Gilda Radner singing Electron Girl in some sort of poodle skirt doo-wop style.
  8. This was followed by the news the covered the 1976 Election Cycle and the Summer Olympics. No mid-news commercial this week.
  9. Jane Curtin and Gilda Radner act in another one of these sketches where they seem to bounce back and forth between being small children and adults as they have slumber party talk about sex. Meaning their voices were as little kids but the situations seem closer to college age experiences but maybe that's what kids did back then.
  10. Next was a very Charlie Kaufman style short film where Louise Lasser is at a diner with her date. It seems like she's rambling and crazy but she is just looking for her next line. Then she has another breakdown saying she's too exhausted to act only to forget her line within the breakdown building up layers of scripted mistakes. I love this type of stuff and am happy to see this early stage in the style's evolution.
  11. Belushi then pitches his line of clothing which just turns out to be the clothing off his back that he is selling out of desperation. He then goes on to try and sell even more of his belongings.
  12. This was followed by Dan Aykroyd playing Carter in a campaign commercial despite putting zero effort into nailing down the look.
  13. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band performed Panama which looked like a bunch of old men that escaped the local Moose Hall Masons Lounge.
  14. Louise Lasser then lays on the ground to put on her shoes and share the tale of her scandal, in a very real moment that just might have been a cry for help.
  15. Louise Lasser returns to say her good nights.

Once again this episode had fewer sketches to choose from but I still did have three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved the Kaufman-esque short film with layers of line reads that blur the level of reality we are watching. Next, even though I wouldn't say it was comedic the Louise Lasser explaining her situation was pretty interesting to watch. Finally, I was a fan of seeing Garrett Morris as Idi "VD" Amin.

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.