A Memory Brewing Episode
The memories are brewing hard with this episode. Too bad the host, George Kennedy, didn't play into any of said memories since I never really paid attention to his career until seven years after this episode when I saw him in the first Naked Gun. No, the memories that are brew are very episode/season specific.
I was five when this episode originally aired, so you're dealing with fuzzy childhood memories to work this out. I've also pointed out before that though this may not be the season, this is definitely the first cast that I remember watching weekly as it originally aired.
Due to my age, I don't think I really grasped the concept of seasonal programming, I don't think I knew the difference between regular episodes and repeats that I've never seen before. This is how I fully remember seeing this specific episode the first night that it aired, only that would be impossible due to the evidence that I am about to share.
In elementary school, we had three playgrounds, a tiny one in the back for the kindergarteners, a bigger one that was at the same level of the school for first through third grade and a huge playground at the bottom of a ramp that was meant for all of the big kids. This comes into play because I totally remember which playground we were on when I told my best friend Tony about Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood.
I specifically remember this interaction because it grew to be a moment of shame over the years even though it wasn't a big deal at that time at all. Now that I think of it, this is a pretty good example of how my anxiety affects me for even the simplest of slip-ups and relive each mistake every day.
This incident took place between me, and a friend who I really don't think saw it as an issue at all. In fact, I remember him laughing because we were on the same page as far as comedy goes but his parents were strict, so he had to get some of his comedy vicariously through me.
Just before this incident that I'm about to share, I had managed to bootleg a cassette recording of Eddie Murphy's Delirious by sneaking the family tape recording in the hallway for an undercover recording while my mom and dad watched the special when it aired on HBO because this was before anyone had a VCR.
This bit of information about Delirious means that I had to catch the repeat and not the night that it originally air because I remember having already share the Goonie Goo Goo story which is how Tony knew who Eddie Murphy was.
Repeat or not, I was a huge fan of both Eddie Murphy, and Mr. Roger's so I could barely contain myself over these colliding worlds. The only problem was I was too young to remember all the details and forgot the name following Mr. that parodied Roger's so my young developing mind made a guess that was offensive and embarrassingly off.
I don't know, this must have also been around the time I discovered Mel Brooks. Between Blazing Saddles, Delirious and the old cast of SNL I thought it was perfectly viable that the sketch might be called Mr. "N" words Neighborhood. I remember feeling uncomfortable saying the word but it was thrown around by both races at the time, especially when it comes to comedy so I said it genuinely thinking that what it was and Tony just thought it was funny.
Keep in mind I was six or seven at this time because I remember it taking place on the smaller top field playground. I knew this was a bad word but I didn't know the weight behind it, so it was just saying another curse word to me.
In fact, I didn't even feel guilty about the fact racist aspect of this mistake until years later because I blamed the state of comedy of the time as to why I would see the ger's in Rodger's to then assume that they would have gone with this type of lazy joke.
No, it wasn't until weeks went by and I saw a second installment of the sketch that I felt more like an idiot for getting it wrong than like an asshole for what I got it wrong with. Tony didn't follow the show, and no one else ever heard this flub, but it's an example of how something so simple can haunt my mind.
Hell, if I weren't so hung up on this moment just for being wrong about the title, I would have never felt the guilt later in life about the innocent racist guess in a conversation that only took place between my best friend who didn't have an issue and me.
I know that whether or not he agreed isn't a valid argument as to whether or not this was acceptable but my point is that whether or not this was racist, this simple stumble would have stuck in my head to this day even if my guess was Mr. Rogerston's Neighborhood. I'd still beat myself up for being wrong, just like later in High School when someone was trying to come up with the name Jack Handy who did Deep Thoughts. She kept saying, "That Handy guy that does those sketches." To which I excitingly guessed Handy Man because I thought she was talking about In Living Color and also beat myself up for that mistake up to this very day.
Now, as soon as I publish this post, I'm going to spend the rest of my life questioning whether or not I worded this right since I'm trying to use this example of my own suffering from anxiety even though I was technically in the wrong while using a failed but logical guess based on my age and the state of comedy at the time.
That said, I still was wrong either way and in more ways than one.
Well, this ended up being a longer sharing session than I expected so I will hold off on sharing the other memories that I mentioned throughout the season as these other thoughts are less sketch specific, and I'm sure they'll be triggered again.
With that, it's time to move on to share what I saw as I give you...
The Wicker Breakdown:
This week's show starts with a parody of To Tell The Truth where we have to guess which of the people on the stage is George Kennedy. The two fake Kennedys are Ron Howard and Regis Philbin. We "lose the camera feed" and have to restart only to lose the feed again leading to another restart followed by another camera outage. George Kennedy then rushes to the production booth to find that everyone has had a heart attack, so he steps in as a hero to pilot the show. This was the perfect set up for him to announce, "Live from New York..." only it never ends up happening.
We then go to another installment of Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood where we meet Mr. Landlord and learn what an eviction letter is as well as what the words Scum Bucket mean. We also go to the land of make-believe where citizens from the projects get to ask the president about his policies involving the poor.
Next, we go to Studio 54 where George as himself tries to get in only to find out that he's not on the list because of his age which leads him to sing the tune 53 At Studio 54.
A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney is another installment in the series parodying Andy Rooney's observational segment from 60 Minutes. It's pretty much the same as the last one, funny but not fun enough to note all of his observations, only this week we meet Rooney's wife.
We then get an update from Mr. Bill who is now hanging out in LA and loses everything when Mr. Hand and Sluggo make him buy a ton of cocaine which leads him to decide to move back to New York, only to be eaten up by an earthquake.
Once again, Brain Doyle-Murray and Mary Gross give us the news. They're both fine but both are a little too low key, and they've yet to establish any chemistry as a broadcasting team. This week, Eddie Murphy does an editorial about how people aren't having as much sex because they've grown to be too picky about appearances. John Candy also drops in to do the weather in what seems to be a rotating cast of meteorologists. Though he's Canadian, he plays a Mexican Weather Man and the segment isn't all that funny but it was a great surprise.
La Cage Aux Folles '81 is a parody reboot of the classic La Cage Aux Folles where the central joke is how funny George looks with this silly recasting.
Up And At 'Em is a short film where we watch a dog eat peanut butter for several minutes which may have been funny a quirky then, but it's lost all of the artistic obnoxiousness to it now that we have YouTube.
Miles Davis then hits the stage to perform Jean Pierre.
Next, we go to a Western-like atmosphere where Robin Duke asks a hired hand named Jake about his giant scar. He starts to tell a wild story only to end on the fact that he cut himself shaving. George then steps in as the sheriff and wants to take the land, and Jake steps in to save the day with a theme song of sorts that plays every time he announces that he is Jake The Hired Hand. I don't like Westerns, so I don't like this sketch, it just seems to keep going on and on and on. Jake shoots Robin for some reason, but she comes back to life only to be shot again. Jake and George then attempt to duel but get distracted in the process, and it feels like this sketch is never going to end. Please end this... end this now... Oh, thank you, it's done.
We then get An Editorial Reply were Mary Gross plays Marilyn Monroe and sings Downers Are A Girls Best Friend... I'm not sure what the editorial reply has to do with this when it is more of a parody music video.
George then plays what looks to be a maintenance worker who drops in on a typist for lunch. She complains about trying to figure out the keyboard after being a punch card operator because apparently their keyboards are designed differently. The two then go on to have an everyday conversation, that at best is sort of interesting, but it's not funny and fails to be sentimental enough to win me over with its charm.
Finally, George Kennedy closes out the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.
This makes two weeks in a row that they stuck to the shorter sketch format which is good because there has yet to be a long sketch from this season that I've even come close to liking. Once again, the extra sketches made it much easier for me to find the favorite moments that I'm about to share down below.
First, I loved this installment of Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood because this was the first appearance that I remembered which triggered the story in the intro above. Next, I really liked seeing Harry Anderson, from Night Court, hit the stage to perform his comedic magical routine. I used to love Night Court as a kid because it was a 10:00 in the PM sit-com that allowed me to stay up an hour past my bedtime. Finally, I was a fan of Velvet Jones School For Technology because once again, I have such strong memories of this sketch from when me, my sister and cousins would parody it in our make-believe sketch comedy show.