Host: George Carlin
Musical Guests: Billy Preston; Janis Ian
Cast: Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman, Gilda Radner, George Coe, Michael O’Donoghue – i.e. the “Not Ready For Primetime Players”
Chevy Chase was the first to say, “Live, from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”
George Carlin, in his comedic prime – though none of his sets were roll on the floor funny, his last set about “God” was pretty ballsy for the time.
The show had two musical guests, with very diverse musical styles – Billy Preston, a generally upbeat soul and funk artist, and Janis Ian, a bit of a morose, much more laid back folk artist from the day. They each were given two sets. Preston sang “Nothing from Nothing” and “Fancy Lady,” and Ian sang “At Seventeen” and “In the Winter.” I wonder if the character in Mean Girls was named for her?
“Trial” sketch – I don’t even remember what the Trial was about. It was the punchline that mattered.
The very first Weekend Update, featuring Chevy Chase at the news desk. He had trouble finding the camera. It’s unclear as to whether that was intentional.
Jim Henson’s Muppets in “The Land of Gorch” sketch. And they were kind of naughty.
The “Home Securities” sketch – with the first ever appearance on the show of Dan Aykroyd playing a shyster salesman. This is a character type he came back to often.
The show’s arrangement and order, though somewhat tweaked over the years, has followed the same basic format of the first episode.
Notably, two other comedians appeared as “guest performers.” First, Andy Kaufman performed the now storied “Mighty Mouse” routine. A second comedian/actress named Valri Bromfield also appeared, who has gone on to write for and act in other shows. She wasn’t much of a highlight, though, sadly.
Less Successful Moments
“New Dad” sketch – if your husband/father dies or disappears, they provide an instant new dad! Nope, no one in the live audience laughed either.
All of the fake commercials, though it was fun to see that they started from the beginning.
The film by Albert Brooks was a bit of a snooze-fest and, perhaps, a bit esoteric. On the other hand, it’s great that they didn’t pander!
“Bee Hospital” sketch. Bee humor is so side splitting (sarcasm)! Again, fun to see that absurdist humor was part of the overall menu, but this one didn’t create much buzz.
Most Valuable Not Ready For Primetime Players
(1st) Gilda Radner, for her roles in “Trial” and “Home Securities.”
(2nd) Chevy Chase, for the Weekend Update.
(3rd) Dan Aykroyd, for his role in “Home Securities.”