SNL Retro: Michael Sarrazin/Keith Jarrett, Gravity (4/15/78)

Posted: October 20, 2011 by Brendan Wahl in SNL Retro Reviews
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by Brendan Wahl

(Season 3, Episode 17)

This episode is otherwise known as Who?/Who?, Who?

The Show:

No teaser this week. I think this is when they were finally phased out of the show altogether.

1. Cold Opening: The President’s Message on Inflation (3:31)

President Carter (Aykroyd) comes up with the perfect solution for the country’s economic woes: he asks every American to burn 8% of their money, thus doing away with the rising inflation.

– The little joke at the beginning about giving a “plantside chat” was good for a chuckle.
– This was some pretty cutting satire to open the show and Aykroyd’s decision to have people burn 8% of their money was pretty hilarious. I also loved his ashtray that said “The Buck Burns Here!”
– Laraine was a good addition here as Amy Carter.
Rating: *** 1/2

2. Monologue (1:17)

Michael talks about the bad omens occurring on this same day he is hosting this episode of SNL like it being the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic as well as the day John Wilkes-Booth, an actor, assassinated Abraham Lincoln.

– Very short monologue and not really all that funny at all. Sarrazin was looking really nervous here. Not a good omen for HIM.
Rating: * 1/2

3. Angora Bouquet (1:15)

– Repeat from Hugh Hefner/Libby Titus (10/15/77).
Rating: *****

4. Josh Ramsay, V.D. Caseworker (10:41)

In this After-School Special, Peter Fonda (Sarrazin) plays Josh Ramsay, a V.D. counselor who comes to a high school to teach about the dangers of the sexually-transmitted diseases one can get. One young woman, Susie (Newman) asks him about it and gets tested. When it is discovered she has contracted a venereal disease, her boyfriend Johnny (Murray) also finds it difficult to urinate. A final meeting is scheduled for Susie, Johnny, his parents (Aykroyd & Radner), and Ramsay himself to settle things.

– This is definitely one of my all-time favourite sketches. I loved everything about this sketch from the forced over-the-top acting to the smartly-written dialogue to many various sight gags that take place throughout the sketch.
– Let’s see, my favourite parts were probably Aykroyd and Radner’s performances as the parents (“Alright, she can come in but she can’t use the bathroom!”), Susie getting outed about having venereal disease over the loudspeaker, and Bill’s shouting while he’s in the bathroom, followed by him saying, “Boy, my penis sure hurts when I urinate.”
– Sarrazin was fine here but he looked like he was reading directly off the cue cards at times.
– The last scene is easily the best one and one of the most well-acted bits in SNL history. Seriously, it’s that good.
Rating: *****

5. Keith Jarrett performs “Country” (4:49)

– An all-jazz piano instrumental is what we are treated to here. Pardon me while I fall the fuck asleep. Seriously, I can appreciate a lot of music but this was so boring to watch. His stupid facial reactions and movements were pretty annoying too. Not my cup of tea, I guess.
– Oh my God. END NOW PLEASE.

6. The Hate Jennifer Show (5:30)

Judy Miller (Radner) is back and this time she imagines her own show based on her hatred of her sister, Jennifer.

– I love this character from Gilda. It’s a shame she only got to do it twice. Although I suppose she played a lot of child roles that are very similar to Judy.
– With most other actresses, this would die with the audience and be way over-the-top/annoying and just serve as a star vehicle for them. This sketch, however, just proves Gilda’s fearlessness as a sketch performer. She committs herself wholly to this character and tosses herself around the room like a rag doll at times.
– Gilda making up with Jennifer at the end was a really nice ending too and gave the character another dimension.
Rating: *****

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

– The Mets lick Montreal.

8. WEEKEND UPDATE w/Dan Aykroyd & Jane Curtin (10:57)
Guests:Bill Murray, Laraine Newman, and Roseanne Roseannadanna

Best Jokes: Edward Kennedy/Suzy Chapstick; Bert Lance; Orson Welles

– Bill Murray does a review of American Hot Wax and hypes up the ‘star’ of the film, Laraine Newman. The footage of the interview with Laraine was pretty funny with Bill’s usual faux-charming persona and Laraine’s attitude matches it really well. It does a real good job of parodying all those pointless Hollywood interviews that never cover any relevant topics. I also loved how they were supposed to be in L.A. and mentioned that Central Park could be seen through the window.
– Another Point/Counterpoint segment occurs this week. It’s got more good material like the one from two weeks ago, but isn’t quite as quick-witted as their first one. Plus, Dan didn’t say “Jane, you ignorant slut!” What gives?
– Roseanne Roseannadanna gives the final commentary of the night and responds to a letter from a concerned woman looking for a job during the springtime. Gilda hits the usual beats of this character and knocks it out of the park again like she usually does. She’s been on a roll tonight with her being the highlight of the last three sketches (including this one).
– The jokes were very scarce this week and not as great as usual.
Rating: *** 1/2

9. Penalty Box (4:10)

One french hockey player (Aykroyd) who’s constantly in the box makes conversation with anyone that stops by including one young man (Sarrazin) from the opposing team that he knew from before.

– Pretty funny sketch that reminded me a lot of something you would see on SCTV with Dave Thomas and maybe Joe Flaherty.
– Bill Murray has “Novello” written on his back, probably as a reference to Don Novello originally being in this sketch but getting injured during the dress rehearsal.
– This was probably Michael’s best performance of the night and he did a pretty convincing Quebecer accent.
Rating: *** 1/2

10. E. Buzz Miller’s Exercise World (3:33)

Sleazebag E. Buzz Miller (Aykroyd) showcases some erotic exercises with the help of his sexy assistant, Christy Christina (Newman).

– Hilarious sketch.
– Dan plays a couple of different sleazebags but he still manages to make this character different from people like Irwin Mainway. I particularly liked his glee at Newman’s various exercise maneuvers and him making a whole bunch of sexually suggestive remarks.
– Newman was also very funny here as the airhead character.
Rating: ****

11. Keith Jarrett performs “My Song” (4:05)

– Oh wonderful, he gets two songs. I will quote Stooge here by saying, “No. Just…no.”

12. Schiller’s Reel: La Dolce Gilda (3:28)

This Fellini-esque piece chronicles a party that Gilda enjoys with several other actors until she finally gets frustrated and must leave.

– This is quite possibly the best film that Tom ever did on the show. It serves as a genius work of film and a wonderful and touching tribute to Gilda all at the same time. It was especially heartbreaking to watch the scenes with Gilda telling the spectator to go away but then asking them to come closer afterwards. It somewhat represented her real-life celebrity persona.
Rating: *****

Bill Murray sits in the audience dressed as Abraham Lincoln in a pretty clever reference to the monologue from earlier.

13. Archaeologicus (3:46)

Tina Gemini (Newman) examines the treasures of Morton Kamen, an old Jewish man that died in Florida.

– Pretty clever sketch with Laraine playing a lady from the future who is fascinated by the strange customs of a regular old Jewish man who had died.
– Laraine is having a really good night.
Rating: ***

14. Gravity performs “Tuba City Gitback” (3:27)

– Oh, great. More jazz music. This wasn’t nearly as bad as the Keith Jarrett performances though and was actually a decent, bouncy tune.

15. Goodnights

– Oh, look. Michael Sarrazin! I forgot he was there. Dan Aykroyd totally shunned him too.

OVERALL: When I did my calculations according to the ratings that were assigned to the sketches, it came out looking like one of the best shows of the year so far. While it’s definitely not the top one for me, this was an episode that boasted at least three bona fide classics (Schiller, VD Caseworker, & Judy Miller) and lots of great material aside from that as well. In fact, aside from a one-minute barely-a-monologue segment, the show was outstanding from top-to-bottom, never faltering once except for maybe a few more weak Update jokes than usual. Sarrazin was a pretty useless host but he was only in two sketches and was okay in the hockey one so he didn’t really impact the show one way or another.


HOST: MICHAEL SARRAZIN – 3 segments (Monologue; Josh Ramsay: V.D. Caseworker; Penalty Box)

DAN AYKROYD – 6 segments (The President’s Message on Inflation; Josh Ramsay: V.D. Caseworker; Weekend Update; Penalty Box; E. Buzz Miller’s Exercise World; La Dolce Gilda)
JOHN BELUSHI – 3 segments (Josh Ramsay: V.D. Caseworker; Penalty Box; La Dolce Gilda)
JANE CURTIN – 3 segments (Angora Bouquet; Josh Ramsay: V.D. Caseworker; Weekend Update)
GARRETT MORRIS – 2 segments (Josh Ramsay: V.D. Caseworker; Penalty Box)
BILL MURRAY – 4 segments (Angora Bouquet; Josh Ramsay: V.D. Caseworker; Weekend Update; Penalty Box)
LARAINE NEWMAN – 6 segments (The President’s Message on Inflation; Josh Ramsay: V.D. Caseworker; Weekend Update; E. Buzz Miller’s Exercise World; La Dolce Gilda; Archaeologicus)
GILDA RADNER – 4 segments (Josh Ramsay: V.D. Caseworker; The Hate Jennifer Show; Weekend Update; La Dolce Gilda)

TOM DAVIS – 1 segment (Penalty Box)

EPISODE MVPs: Laraine Newman/Gilda Radner

  1. Ben says:

    Really disagree about the Keith Jarrett performances. I thought they were some of the best performances of the show’s history.

  2. stevekindof says:

    There was a sketch mentioned in Shale’s book, the SNL documentary six years ago, and Lorne Michaels talked at length on when he guested Late Night with David Letterman in ’83 (mentioning it was for the Sarrazin ep): Basically a “What If?” sketch where Jesus Christ was given 5 to 10 years instead of put to death. Apparantly it was an against-the-clock struggle with the censors which Lorne ended up losing. I think one of the lines was apostle saying to the returning JC, “Jesus Christ, it’s good to see you!!!” When I saw the episode first, I felt a void in the line-up, like one more big sketch would’ve seem to fill it to standard. Guess I called it… :/

    • Brendan Wahl says:

      That might explain the addition of Gravity. I would’ve loved to have seen that sketch. Do you know if Sarrazin was supposed to be in that one?

      • stevekindof says:

        Sarrazin (Lorne may have said that’s who it was, can’t remember but seemed like he would be a shoo-in; skinny, gaunt face…)

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  4. stevekindof says:

    Check that: I would peg Sarrazin as JC (Lorne may have said that’s who it was, can’t remember but seemed like he would be a shoo-in; skinny, gaunt face…)

  5. […] Michael Sarrazin/Keith Jarrett, Gravity […]

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