SNL Retro: Art Garfunkel/Stephen Bishop (3/11/78)

Posted: June 19, 2011 by Brendan Wahl in SNL Retro Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

by Brendan Wahl

(Season 3, Episode 13)

Paul Simon was on the show frequently, but this is Artie’s first and only time as a host. He has also never appeared as a musical guest. To be fair though, Simon ended up a lot more popular than ol’ Big-Hair.

The Show:

“Jacques Cousteau Gets an Undersea Enema” will not be seen tonight. Darn…

1. Modern Crimes (1:51)

In a spoof on the recent events involving the theft of Charlie Chaplin’s body, two men (Aykroyd & Belushi) attempt to steal the body of the Tramp himself (Radner) while trying to not be thwarted by a police officer (Murray) on patrol.

– I had to look up the news item in question because I had no idea this actually happened, but let me tell you my friends, it was well worth it.
– Doing the entire thing as a silent movie parody was obvious and brilliant at the same time. I especially loved Belushi clearly mouthing “let’s get the fuck out of here,” but the caption leaves out the profanity.
– Murray is also great as the cop, swirling his baton around in a hilariously over-the-top way.
– The LFNY part was pretty clever too.
– The camera lingered on the sketch a BIT long, it seemed. After Radner opened the show, you could see Danny and John start to smile and begin to walk away.
**** 1/2

2. Monologue (4:44)

Art comes out to sing “Wonderful World” with Stephen Bishop (the Sam Cooke one; not the Louis Armstrong one), but falls victim to the faulty microphones and sound system. John Belushi comes out to defend him and rag on the network for mistreating the show, but his rant soon turns towards Garfunkel instead when Art refuses to join in on the NBC-bashing.

– Belushi was his usual hilarious, manic, ranting self here and I’m glad he interrupted so we got a proper monologue rather than a song at the top of the show. John’s acting here was great and it proved to me that he probably could have had a real future with dramatic work, even.
– Art plays a good victim of slow burn here and he still had quite a bit of difficulty at maintaining a straight face in front of John’s theatrics.
– Best line: “There’s no reason why Garrett Morris should have to get up early and drive Jane Pauley to work every single morning.”

3. Art Garfunkel & Stephen Bishop sing “Wonderful World” (2:24)

– I’m making this and the monologue two separate segments because that’s what the SNL Archives did and it makes sense to me…
– This was a pretty good performance. It’s a shame that Garfunkel never really did much post-breakup.

4. Kromega III (1:43)

Repeat from Steve Martin/Jackson Browne (9/24/77).
*** 1/2

5. Tomorrow (4:29)

Tom Snyder (Aykroyd) interviews a battered husband (Garfunkel); a man who wants to be left anonymous as he sits in the dark. However, Tom has a hard time concealing the identity of the young man as he drops the man’s name by mistake and several other obvious indicators related to who the man is.

– A home-run recurring impression for Danny. He really nails Snyder’s cadence and in particular, he does a great job with the little side conversations he has with people in the crew and that damn laugh.
– Artie was actually pretty good here too, as he talks about being caught masturbating by his abusive wife and then getting increasingly frustrated by Snyder’s comments that give away his identity.
– Aykroyd’s quick description of who his guest was at the end of the sketch was pretty amusing too thanks to his rapid-fire delivery.

6. Stephen Bishop sings “On and On” (3:03)

– This was a hugely popular song at the time. I think pretty much anyone would recognize it as soon as it starts playing.
– Bishop is certainly a talented musician and it makes for a pretty good performance. Nothing outstanding, but it’s a nice song.
– His set was really cool, too. I miss when musicians were able to have influence on their own backdrops and stuff. Although it seems like that’s picked up a bit recently with Kanye West and Cee Lo Green this past season.
– Is he actually real good friends with Garfunkel? Anyone know? I know he would go on to do the theme song for Animal House so there’s a connection to Belushi. He’s also in the movie as the hippie who gets his guitar broken by John.

7. Miracle In Chicago (4:12)

At an Irish pub, the bartender (Aykroyd) complains about the jukebox people not including “Tura Lura Lura,” especially because it’s St. Patrick’s Day. One of the patrons, a construction worker (Murray), discusses the possibility of the deceased Mayor Daley making an appearance this year.

– This sketch meant well, but was lacking in the laughs department.
– Belushi looked funny as Daley and had a couple of amusing moments, explaining that his theory on “one vote – one turkey” has changed.

8. KISS Concert (4:24)

A security guard (Belushi) employs some tough measures when several people attempt to get into the backstage area at a KISS concert including a “friend of Peter Criss’,” Stephen Bishop, and many others.

– This was a funny walk-on sketch that had many funny characters from Garfunkel being the brother of Paul Stanley, who escaped the air force just to see his brother and the first appearance of Bill Murray’s smarmy agent character, Jerry Eldini.
– Belushi’s exchange with Stephen Bishop (“I hate that song!”) was a really funny exchange as well.
– Did Danny look freaky in that Paul Stanley getup or what? Yikes.
*** 1/2

9. UPDATE TEASER w/Jane Curtin (:06)

– Elizabeth Taylor being force-fed for charity.

10. WEEKEND UPDATE w/Dan Aykroyd & Jane Curtin (9:15)
Guests: Garrett Morris & Bill Murray

Best Jokes: Orson Welles; violent police force; Charlie Chaplin; Larry Flynt shooting; Bubbles the Hippo

– The sponsor bit (“Hershey Highway”) was hilarious but got barely any reaction.
– Garrett does the first commentary as “scientist, Dr. Garrett Morris” to introduce a new medical piece of business that will stop blood clots in their path. It seemed to be going nowhere at first with Garrett stumbling over many of his lines, but the Mighty Mouse footage was pretty funny and saved it. I also liked the bit at the end where Danny and Garrett talk about how glad they are that President Nixon had the affliction.
– Bill Murray’s bit is on the “Hanoi Jane” controversy, but then he segues into a review of Coming Home and praises Fonda’s political activism. Murray then declares his opposition to the Vietnam War and solemnly states that he doesn’t care what it does to his career, despite the protests being over for nearly ten years.
– Aykroyd being caught with his feet on the desk was a good capper to the entire segment.

11. Art Garfunkel sings “All I Know” & “Scarborough Fair” (5:44)

– Another performance from Art? Alrighty then, no complaints here. It seems a bit odd though that Bishop hasn’t been given a second performance instead.
– Artie does really well by himself and proved that he is no second banana even though history will always see him as “the partner of Paul Simon.”
– It was awesomely awesome to hear “Scarborough Fair;” one of my favourite S&G ditties.

12. Looks At Books (3:35)

Jane Curtin interviews the Nerds (Murray & Radner), who have written a book on the class of ’77. Lisa and Todd proceed to annoy Jane and make dorky remarks as per usual.

– Like I said during their first appearance, these sketches usually work because of Bill and Gilda’s performances and their chemistry together.
– Gilda’s description of different classmates was funny as was Bill’s constant goofy laughing throughout the whole sketch.
– Murray’s character is still being referred to as Todd LaBounta. I believe the character’s name would change when they did this sketch the next time.
– By their next appearance, they finally broke out of the talk-show format and would get involved in some classics. This was still pretty average though; not quite as funny as their first outing.
** 1/2

13. Schiller’s Reel: Don’t Look Back in Anger (3:51)

Sometime in the distant future, an elderly John Belushi visits the graves of his fellow Not Ready for Primetime Players and comments on how each of them died from Dan Aykroyd loving motorcycles too much to Jane Curtin dying from complications with cosmetic surgery. John solemnly states that he misses them all, but suddenly gets a joyful look in his eye when he reveals how he was able to outlive them all.

– This was hard to watch to say the least. The idea of Belushi outliving everyone else on the show is a sad, ironic twist on the same man being dead a mere four years later from this date.
– That being said, this was a classic film piece and probably the best Schiller’s Reel that was ever done.
– The jokes revolving around how each person passed away was pretty funny (although the story about Garrett was eerily close to John’s real fate), but this sketch was done more for mood and tone and that’s where it really excelled.
– John’s performance here is magnificent; this has been a really strong episode for him. The final image of him dancing is not something I’ll easily forget.

14. Andy Kaufman (7:56)

Frequent special guest on SNL, Andy Kaufman, makes his eighth appearance and sports a British accent, “his true voice.” Instead of entertaining the audience with silly characters and goofy songs, he reads The Great Gatsby and keeps going on and on, despite the audience eventually getting visibly pissed off.

– Andy is brilliant. This is perhaps his finest work on the show. It’s an exercise in patience and how much you can get away with in front of a hostile New York audience.
– There is no joke here. Andy just reads the book as the audience chuckles at first at the absurdity of this piece and then some begin loudly coughing and hissing in opposition to the segment.
– Andy has the audience at his whim and command. I particularly liked him teasing them with playing a record and then it ended up being just more audio of him reading the book, but the fake-out with him leaving and then coming back was hilarious too.
– With Lorne Michaels making a quick appearance and whispering to Andy to leave, it gave this a sense of legitimacy.

15. The Looking For Mr. Goodbar Sleepytime Playset (2:10)

(For anyone who is not aware, “Looking For Mr. Goodbar” is a 1977 film based on a true story about a teacher who seemingly had a double life and was always searching for scummy-type guys in bars to take home with her and have rough sex with. She was eventually stabbed, killed, and raped (in that order) when one of these guys didn’t turn out to be as friendly as the rest.)

The toy promoting senseless sex and violence is finally released! As a little girl (Radner) discovers it, the narrator describes the different aspects of this inappropriate children’s playset.

– This is definitely a Michael O’Donoghue piece. It has the dark humour that he is known for and the juxtaposition of the little girl with the dark source material. Classic stuff.
– I liked Gilda using the Teddy Bear purse to save the day (a callback to that sketch where she played a woman stricken with Gidget’s Disease?) and her performance as a little girl was perfect as always.
– This also reminded me of the Creeley’s Soup ad from Julian Bond/Tom Waits, Brick just because of Gilda being the little girl and Bill Murray’s voice as the narrator telling her what to do.
**** 1/2

16. Art Garfunkel sings “Crying in My Sleep” (3:32)

– A FOURTH song from Garfunkel and Bishop only gets two?! And on one of those, he was just back-up for Artie. Wow, good thing I like you, Mr. Garfunkel.
– This was actually my favourite performance from him of the night, actually. I really liked the very ending of the song, which was a little nod to “All I Have to Do Is Dream” by the Everly Brothers.
– Kinda weird how Art was absent on the sketch side of things after Update. In fact, he was only in two sketches all night!

17. Goodnights

– Evidently, the show was running pretty long as Garfunkel very quickly thanks everyone and only about three credits are shown. It wasn’t even 20 seconds.

OVERALL: A big step up from last week’s above-average broadcast. Artie helmed one of the top shows of the season so far with only two sketches that didn’t quite connect and what seemed like classic-after-classic in terms of the other material. Garfunkel himself was a fairly non-descript host; he certainly wasn’t bad, but he only appeared in two sketches (unless you count the monologue) and his other three appearances were musical performances. He never played anything more than deadpan or the straight man, but he was still adequate in his roles. His music was really good, though. Stephen Bishop was a worthy addition and sadly only got one performance, but he made the most out of that and his cameo in the KISS Concert sketch. The real star of this episode though is John Belushi. The man owned this one and delivered some truly great performances. Danny and Billy are close contenders, but this was Belushi’s home run.

BREAKDOWN: (because of the fact that Artie did a lot of music, I will include it. I don’t normally though, nor will I for Stephen Bishop)

HOST: ART GARFUNKEL – 6 segments (Monologue; “Wonderful World;” Tomorrow; KISS Concert; “All I Know” & “Scarborough Fair;” “Crying in My Sleep”)
MUSICAL GUEST: STEPHEN BISHOP – 2 segments (Monologue; KISS Concert)


DAN AYKROYD – 5 segments (Modern Crimes; Tomorrow; Miracle In Chicago; KISS Concert; Weekend Update)
JOHN BELUSHI – 5 segments (Modern Crimes; Monologue; Miracle In Chicago; KISS Concert; Schiller’s Reel)
JANE CURTIN – 3 segments (KISS Concert; Weekend Update; Looks At Books)
GARRETT MORRIS – 2 segments (KISS Concert; Weekend Update)
BILL MURRAY – 5 segments (Modern Crimes; Miracle In Chicago; KISS Concert; Weekend Update; Looks At Books)
LARAINE NEWMAN – 1 segment (KISS Concert)
GILDA RADNER – 3 segments (Modern Crimes; Looks At Books; The Looking For Mr. Goodbar Sleepytime Playset)


TOM DAVIS – 1 segment (KISS Concert)

EPISODE MVP: John Belushi

  1. Daniel Martin says:

    i liked your other grade system better. the stars just dont work for me

  2. Brendan Wahl says:

    Sorry, I just got tired of the letter grades…

  3. Daniel says:

    Art Garfunkel had hair issues – His hair looks like a fright-wig here, or he’s channeling Buckwheat? I remember audible gasps from the audience at the sight of his hairy back in Carnal Knowledge….

    Don’t Look Back In Anger was eerie at the time, and has achieved its own fame in its inverted prescience…..

    Stephen Bishop’s On and On was heard on and on and on and on during the on all the Lite Radio stations that cropped up like dandelions during the 80’s… usually played at least once an hour, if not more..

    Star ratings are much better than letter grades…this isn’t SCHOOL… star ratings are standard for entertainment reviews…

  4. […] Art Garfunkel/Stephen Bishop […]

  5. Gene says:

    One of my favorite episodes.
    Does anyone know where the KISS concert sketch can be found to view online?
    I have many a friend who would love to see just that sketch.

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