Saturday, October 6, 2007
Top Five Christopher Guest Skits On SNL
Yay, Iceland! Yet another flag of many lands™! Here's a fun fact to know and tell. The three best countries in terms of infant mortality are three island nations: Japan, Singapore and Iceland. All of them have infant mortality rates around 2 per 1,000 live births. Most of the European Union averages around 5 per 1,000, and the United States is at about 7 per 1,000. Way to go, Japan, Singapore and Iceland!
In the mid 1980's, Saturday Night Live decided to go with established comic actors instead of relative unknowns. The cast included Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer, Billy Crystal, Martin Short, Jim Belushi, Rich Hall, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Mary Gross and Pamela Stevenson. The actors who did "best" in the format were probably Crystal and Short, because the idea of SNL is to create repeatable characters, and not to be afraid of being a scene hog. Christopher Guest is an actor who likes to work with other actors, so even his best repeated character is part of a duo.
Here are my top five Christopher Guest bits from his tenure on Saturday Night Live. Two of them can be found on the You Tubes, one has a transcript, and the other two... well, you'll have to take my word if you didn't see them. They were feckin' HIGH-larious.
Number Five: Jackie Rogers Jr.'s $100,000 Jackpot Wad. This is a very long skit by SNL standards, and for me, many of Martin Short's characters become tiresome quickly. It's a game show take-off, with Guest as a fey private investigator named Rajiv Vindaloo, paired with celebrity guest Sammy Davis, Jr., while Jim Belushi plays Captain Kangaroo as a raging madman, paired with a very nervous and incompetent Mary Gross. I have had several people search my blog looking for "Chocolate Babies". Here it is:
Number Four: Men's Synchronized Swimming. Here, the stars are Short, Guest and Shearer, with Short being much more willing to be part of an ensemble than usual. Clearly, Guest as the unnamed choreographer is working at creating his part in Waiting For Guffman.
Number three: Willie and Frankie. Guest and Crystal play two guys working menial jobs together, usually night watchmen, discussing their weekends, which usually involve horribly painful self-mutilation. The comedy comes from them completing each other's sentences, which is also the source of the comedy of the "Chocolate Babies" gag. I couldn't find footage, but here's a link to some transcripts.
Number two: Negro Leaguers. Like the Synchronized Swimmer skit, this one was on tape. Like $100,000 Jackpod Wad, Crystal and Guest are in blackface, playing old Negro League ballplayers reminiscing. Yogi Berra has a cameo. The best bit is when they talk about the most successful ballpark promotion, Smelt Night.
Number one: Fin-de-Siecle Prison Homosexuality. As I recall, the title of the bit when it aired was Shame Of The Prisons. Martin Short plays a terrified new prisoner named Percival, and his cellmate is the threatening Jim Belushi. Belushi doesn't ravage him immediately, because he says, "I can't have you until The Bull has had you." Guest plays The Bull as a gallant Gaylord Ravenal sort of character, and the first date is just a walk in the moonlight, with genteel idle chit-chat, until The Bull finally turns and asks "Percy? I must know this. Will you wear my ring... and be my bitch?" Short goes back to his cell and he and Belushi start acting like high school girls, thrilled to discuss the particulars of a date.
Like with the Smelt Night skit, I can't find a record of this, but take my word, it was great.
Now playing: Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - I'll Try Something New