SNL: S03E06... HOST: BUCK HENRY... DATE: NOVEMBER 19, 1977

or...

The Forgotten Founding Father of the

Five-Timers Club

I remember back to when Tom Hanks was entered into the Five-Timer Club to celebrate his fifth hosting appearance because this was the introduction of this goal for hosts to strive for. Up until then, every first-time host claimed to achieve their dream just by getting to do an opening monolog. The addition of this Five-Timer Club seemed to push some of the repeat hosts to perform at the level of the permanent cast to land themselves a spot in show history.

I find it interesting that the show never gives Buck Henry the respect of accrediting him as the founding member. Hell, Henry could have been entered twice having hosted the show 10 before the end of 1980. It took Steve Martin nearly a decade to break this record and yet he's the king of the club.

Don't get me wrong, Martin makes a better representative being that he's still active with the show, I just find it odd that Buck Henry is never even reference as a member. Even in the sketch that introduces the concept of the club, Hanks is welcomed by Steve Martin and Paul Simon who is technically not even a member since Simon only hosted four times but his musical guest appearances made him an honorable member.

It's too bad that Buck Henry is not still part of the show because all of his episodes are high up on my list of favorites and this episode was the best of the bunch because it was so fun to see everyone interact with the Anyone Can Host Contest finalist.

Even though the results of this contest are 40 years old, I'm still excited to see the outcome. I wouldn't say that they should do this every season but it's definitely a feature that should be revisited.

Now it's time to stop sharing my thoughts and move on to sharing what I saw as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. The show starts with a fake notice that The Walton's Eat Their Young will not be airing tonight so that they can air this special episode of SNL instead.
  2. The opening sketch is Gilda and Garrett talking about the Anyone Can Host finalist. We then get a quick intro of the final 5 which leads to the announcement of "Live from New York...
  3. Buck Henry then spends more time with the finalist where we learn the first one is the governor of South Dakota. He's very politiciany and gives us nothing to root for. Next, we meet a student from Vassar who claims to be a groupie of the show but other than that is not all that interesting. Next, is a drop out from Oregon who seems like he could be from Portland right at this very moment. He's pretty annoying but the only one trying to promote that he's funny enough to earn the win. Next is a mom from Peoria who seems like an average mom. Finally, there is an old lady from the south who had a funny moment just being old in the opening sketch but like the rest, this was a nonperformer's intro.
  4. This was followed by the famous Little Doughnuts sketch that might be my favorite of all time. Not only do I love seeing Belushi as a supreme athlete but I love how he smokes while eating.
  5. Buck Henry then has a session with the Samurai Psychiatrist. This sketch starts out like the rest of the sketches in the Samurai series only this time Buck calls Belushi's bluff of hara-kiri causing Belushi to finally commit suicide as he stabs himself in the stomach.
  6. Bill Murray then plays a director telling all the actors their motives. Buck is playing an angry Dad, with Jane as the wife who's had too much as well as a bundle that's supposed to be a real baby. Murray talks to the baby as if it were an adult before starting the scene. Buck and Jane get into a fight and Murray call cut just before Buck Henry is about the slam the "real" baby to the ground. They then call in a stunt baby that also supposed to be real and we return to the scene where Buck viciously attacking the baby and throwing it out the window. It was so obviously fake and over the top that it was hilarious no matter how bad it sounds in writing. 
  7. Next was the A.M.O.A Motel Sanitizer fake ad that shows how this service goes about sanitizing motel rooms using flame throwers and harsh chemicals to kill any germs in the building.
  8. Leon Redbone performs Champaign Charlie.
  9. Once again, we have the news hosted by Jane and Dan. Laraine has a segment where she interviews all the finalist once more but cuts them all off before it gets to anything all that important. Again, the Oregon guy is the only one that gets the laughs and the old lady is funny just by being old.
  10. Reunion in Kiev was an interesting parody of an art house movie. In it, Gilda plays a woman who is traveling by train through Russian. She bored while entertaining her inner monolog which sends us to a flashback to the day before where she is doing the same exact thing, just sitting on the train and thinking. The cabin attendant then enters to offer her wine which sends him into a flashback and again it leads to just being on the train on another day but he has the glass of wine Gilda had asked for. When he goes to deliver the wine she informs his she didn't order it until tomorrow. This sends us flashing all throughout time while still trying to tell a linear story.
  11. Mr. Mike makes a quick appearance to introduce his latest segment called The Ricky Rat Club which is the Mickey Mouse Club dealing with much darker topics, mainly how missing members of the club are being used in government experiments.
  12.  Franken and Davis get another spot on the show where they give fake evidence as to how this comedy duo goes way further back in history than their SNL appearance. This eventually leads them to point out that this is how they became friends with Jackie O. They then flash to a dinner party at Jackie's house where Davis almost chokes to death while everyone assumes he's playing party games.
  13. Buck Henry then introduces a short film where he interviews all the finalist in his hotel room. The Vassar student tries to hook up with Buck, the governor tries to pay him off, the Oregon drop out tries a disturbing joke that must have gotten Mr. Mike's approval, the mom admits that she was recently divorced and needs this win to provide Christmas to her family and finally, the old lady admits that she wants to win because she predicts she'll be dead on New Year's.
  14. Leon Redbone returns to perform Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone.
  15. This was followed by another short film with people discussing their near death experience. At first, it seems like it's going to be a serious sketch that was more interesting than funny as person after person explains their near death experience in very serious terms but then all end with them ending up in a place with a giant sign that says "Please pick a number."
  16. Finally, the finalists have one last call for votes before Buck Henry says his goodnights.

It's going to be hard to list my top three with this episode because there are at least three sketches that are tied for number one that each satisfy a different aspect of my comedic interests but here is what I came up with. First, I've always loved the Little Doughnut ad which may be why I like Chocolate Gems to this day. Next, I laughed really hard at the slapstick involved in the stunt baby sketch for it's over the top inappropriateness. Finally, I was a fan of Reunion in Kiev parody because it did a real good job of parodying the nonlinear art house genre that I am a real big fan of.     

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.