SNL: S02E18... HOST: JULIAN BOND... DATE: APRIL 9 , 1977

or...

Oh No, Another Senator Show

Up until now, the shows have been about fifty-fifty when I have no idea who the host is, only fifty percent of the time they've been average, and the other fifty, slightly below. Being that, my highest expectation is an average episode, I don't get too thrilled when I see the strange names in the breakdown. That is until last night's episode where Jack Burns (who I was unaware of) turned in a top ten performance.

With my new outlook on the unknown host, I was kind of interested in learning who Julian Bond is.  The opening sketch was fine enough but flags arose when Pardo announced multiple musical performers. This instantly set my expectation to seeing a second half slump show. Then the host walked out on the stages, who looked an awful lot like the black guy from the original version of The IT Crowd. Yes, I was judging a book by its cover but the resemblance renewed my higher expectation.

Julian Bond seems like a very nice man but the moment he spoke I was back to expecting a slump show. First, he announced he doesn't expect anyone to know why he is hosting the show being that he's an unfunny politician. Yeah, he might have been saying it in jest but he went on to perform a monolog that felt like a campaign speech with very dry jokes if any at all. I didn't get it one bit but the audience seemed to chime in with some sympathetic laughter. 

This episode seemed extra awkward and sad because it seemed like they use this opportunity of having a well-spoken black guy (who reminded me of a blend between Obama and Bernie) to get very racial with their content. Though most of the sketches seemed to highlight the policies being pushed by Bond, there was a huge chunk that came across as being straight up racist, including this gem of a sketch about hairspray.

[ open on a pair of male and female dancers on the disco floor ] 

Jingle
"You've come a long way, Negro
To get where you've got to today.
You've got your own hairspray now, Negro
You've come a long, long way." 

[ pull forward to reveal Ebony Model wearing a leather jacket and shirt suit sitting with a Girl Model at a table ] 

Ebony Model: Hey there, Negro! Try Right-On Afro Lustre for that Right-On natural look. 

[ he holds up the canister ] 

Right-On Afro Lustre. you'll know it because the canister is shaped like a fist. 

[ cut back to the dancers on the disco floor ] 

Jingle: "You've come a long, long way!" 

[ cut to close-up of Ebony Model as he sprays the canister ] 

Ebony Model: Right on! 

[ fade ] 

It's too bad because as I said, Julian Bond seemed like a really great guy and I'm interested in learning more about him. Now it's time to share what I saw on what would now be an unairable episode due to too many, "It was a different time" jokes that now seem downright offensive. And with that, I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. Emily Litella and Jane Curtin open the show in the locker room where Emily is too love-struck to think of a topic to talk about on the news. There's no payoff to who she's in love with and other than one mistake when she misnames a song, it wasn't that funny for being one of my favorite characters.
  2. Julian Bond then performs the opening monolog, I have no idea who he is but was instantly disappointed when I learned he was a senator with a routine that belongs on CSPAN.
  3. Belushi then played H&L Brock it what I think is a continuation of an ongoing tax accountant ad but there's a good chance that it's just a repeat.
  4. On this week's Black Perspective Garrett Morris and Julian Bond break the myth that white people have higher IQs than black people do. They give some sample question from the IQ test to show just how racially bias the questions are. When Garrett asks what started the stereotype Julian informs him that it stems from a study proving light-skinned blacks are smarter than dark black people. 
  5. This sketch starts with a quick racist moment where Amy Carter is singing a racist song while playing with her slave doll. Amy then leaves adding nothing else to the scene as Garrett Morris and Julian Bond enter the oval office to meet with Jimmy Carter. They have a political discussion about race that feels very much like what we're going through these days.
  6. Tom Waits performs a song called Eggs and Sausages.
  7. Dr. X Family Counsellor was a hilarious sketch with Dr. X in a super-villain mask and a hook hand. He meets with a family with Belushi as their kid who doesn't hesitate to ask Dr. X about how he became so disfigured. This embarrasses Bill Murray who plays the dad who yells at Belushi as a knee-jerk reaction to his questions.
  8. Once again, Jane Curtin does the news, which I'm still a fan of even though I have nothing to report on.
  9. The news commercial was the racist one from above for Right-On Afro Luster hairspray. I don't even think the host was comfortable with this one because the delivery of the lines and body language was very stilted.
  10. The news returns with more regular stories and once again there is no second half news guest.
  11. Great Moments in Motown was a pretty funny sketch where Julian Bind plays the owner of a night club advising a Doo-Wop Group of how they have to perform in order to be hired as the house band.
  12. Gilda Radner then plays a small child in a soup commercial who gets directed to do weird stuff to really experience the soup by the voice of Bill Murray who was playing the announcer.
  13. Bad Cinema was a sketch that made fun of pompous filmmakers as the praise the crappiest film ever made for very artsy-fartsy reasons.
  14. Brick then perform Dazz which is one of those songs that was in every rap song in the 80s.
  15. Julian Bond then tries to set up a civil rights fundraiser as the Farber house, who are also the neighbors of the Coneheads. Though the Farbers come off as innocent bigots open to the idea of the civil right activism, their neighbors/backgammon group are a bunch of straight up racists.
  16.  There's an announcement that there is no Mr. Mike's Least Loved Bedtime Tales but Mr. Mike does meet up with Uncle Remus for some dueling racism and they both tell their versions of the Br'er Rabbit.
  17. This week's short film was Patti Smith talking about her performance from a year ago when the NBC censors made her change the words to My Generation.
  18. George Wallace then talks about the "New South" trying to dispel the stereotype of their redneck ways only to make them sound worse in their solution.
  19. Finally, Julian Bond came out to say his good nights. 

Again, I really like Julian Bond but this is an episode that I don't really think stands the test of time but I really hope that this is because of advancements that have been made and not that my modern eyes that are too sensitive as to what's considered racist leading me to misinterpret strong subversive humor for taking advantage of having a respectable black politician to pull off some off colored joke.

That said, I still had my favorites that I'm going to share right now. First, I loved the kid pointing out the flaws of Dr. X because it reminds me of the blatant honesty that I hear from my little nephew. Next, I liked the sketch with Julian setting up the fundraiser event with the Farbers because it managed to be racial and funny without coming across as being straight up racist. Finally, I was a fan of the Great Moments in Motown sketch because it was fun without being racial or racist which was rare in this episode unless the host wasn't being featured.

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.