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
via FoxyTunes


Splotchy said...

Nice collection of skits -- some of the best SNL ever produced.

If you ever find the last one, I'd love to watch it. That's the only one I have never seen.

Karla said...

I just gotsta say how upscale your blog is getting up in here.

Music, streaming video, graphs, flags 'o many countries. It's all so po-fessional!

Remember back in the day when you were blogging on little strips of paper and taping them to trees in the hopes that people would come by?

You've come a long way, Matty Boy.

FranIAm said...

You know, I've been in Spain. And its been great. But now I am back, trying to get caught up on my favorite blogs.

Oh Matty. You never fail to delight, to entertain, to uplift.

This was a great era because of Guest and others.

The men's synchro is one of my very favorite evah evah evah things. Evah.

Having seen all of these, even if it was all those years ago... All I can say is, you continue to out-do yourself.

Matty Boy said...

My sister is not kidding. Back when I got my first black and white Mac, I made art, mostly political in nature, using MacPaint, made copies and nailed them to telephone poles in my neighborhood, where they were usually promptly torn down.

Saving a lot on my photocopying bill these days. And nobody can tear this down. (Knock wood.)

Padre Mickey said...

I remember the macArt project! I drew that cartoon of Reagan that kept being pulled off telephone poles. We wuz blogging, or maybe telephone pologging!

Matty Boy said...

It was like selling Wikipedia door to door, one page at a time.


(Gotta put my teeth back in.)

FranIAm said...

You two are crackin' me up.. macart project.

Laughing myself to death here.

buddspal said...

so- i just fininshed watching 'lots to love'- the bachelor for curvy folk. the B kept asking the girls to wear his ring, i kept adding in my head- 'and be my bitch'. i havent seen the homo prision sketch in many many years, its amazing what comes back to you.
also- in j.r. jr. 100k jp waaaaaaaaad sammy davis jr. is describing asparagus to r. vindaloo

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Anonymous said...

Here's the fabled "Smelt Night" skit. Enjoy!