Saturday Night Live/Buck Henry/Bill Withers, Toni Basil

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Buck Henry/Bill Withers, Toni Basil
Season 1, Episode 10
Airdate January 17, 1976
Production Number 011
Written by Anne Beatts
Chevy Chase
Al Franken &
Tom Davis
Lorne Michaels
Marilyn Suzanne Miller
Michael O'Donoghue
Herb Sargent
Tom Schiller
Rosie Shuster
Alan Zweibel
Directed by Dave Wilson
← 1x09
Elliott Gould/Anne Murray
1x11 →
Peter Cook, Dudley Moore/Neil Sedaka
Saturday Night LiveSeason One

Buck Henry/Bill Withers, Toni Basil is the tenth episode of the first season of Saturday Night Live, and the tenth episode overall. It is the first appearance by both its host and either of its musical guests.

Guest Stars: Buck Henry (Host), Bill Withers (Musical Guest), Toni Basil (Musical Guest)

Special Guests: Tom Schiller (Henri)

Muppet Voices and Puppeteers: Jerry Nelson (Scred), Alice Tweedy (Queen Peuta), Rollin Krewson (Puppeteering Assistant)


Episode Breakdown

  • Suicide Hotline: In an office, a telephone rings. The operator (Chase) runs down the stairs and dives over the desk to answer the phone as the "Suicide Prevention Center," but he hears a gunshot on the other end of the phone line.
  • Buck Henry's Monologue: Henry says that, as he is not a big star, comedian or musician, he is surprised to be hosting the show, and he is sure he was not the producers' first choice. A title card admits this is true. Henry says he is glad to be the second choice after someone bigger than he pulled out, and the title card lists other people they called first, which includes a number of Z-list celebrities (Steve Rossi), kitsch icons (Charo), A-list celebrities who rarely do television (Paul Newman), dead people (Generalissimo Francisco Franco) and fictional characters (Alfred E. Newman). Henry goes on to talk about how hard the cast and crew worked and says he feels guilty about being paid to do the show, although the title cards say he requested cash in advance. Henry considers giving the money to one of his "favorite charities," but the title cards say his favorite charities include, "Anvil Bar and Grill," "Venus Rub-a-Dub Health Spa," "Stan's Head Shop," "Eros All-Night Movie House," "Carl's Danish Book Store" and "Vanessa (555-5822)." Henry then talks about how much he loves New York and his favorite activities, so the title cards list his "favorite activities"—a list identical to the charities list. As Henry wraps up, the title cards list more celebrities they're now calling to replace him as host.
  • Samurai Futaba - Samurai Deli: Samurai Futaba (Belushi) is mashing eggs for egg salad with his hand when Mr. Dantley (Henry) enters and orders a sandwich. Futaba yells and points with his sword to a sign reading, "Take a Number," so, although he is the only customer in the store, Dantley takes the number. Futaba calls out random Japanese words until Dantley comes to the counter with his number, and Futaba takes his order. Dantley orders a cold cut combo sandwich, so Futaba starts slicing up the meat, bread and tomato with his katana. As Futaba shouts in unintelligible Japanese, Dantley starts a conversation about the upcoming Super Bowl. At last, Futaba pulls out a perfectly formed sandwich from behind his counter. Dantley complains there is more fat than he ordered on the sandwich, but when Futaba nearly commits harikari, Dantley decides to eat the extra fat. Dantley asks for the sandwich to be cut in half, so Futaba shouts and drops his katana on the sandwich, but he gently cuts it in half. When Dantley asks Futaba to "break a twenty," Futaba slices the counter in half.
  • Presidential Foreplay: Talk show host Curtin welcomes guest Linda Louise (Radner), who claims to have had an affair with President John F. Kennedy. She talks about meeting him through Bob Hope, meeting him at a private party and frolicking with him in "nude midnight swims" while the First Lady was "upstairs, heavily sedated." When Curtin asks about Kennedy's bad back, Louise talks about the president's hurt leg. She also says she still visits the president. Curtin is offended and questions Louise's veracity, so Louise offers to show a picture of the two of them together taken by "Bebe." Curtin realizes Louise is referring to another president, and Louise says she is ashamed for what she did, but she wanted to meet David Frost.
  • The Oval Office: President Gerald Ford (Chase) meets with his press secretary, Ron Nessen (Henry) about an upcoming press conference. Throughout the meeting, Ford talks to his stuffed dog Liberty as though the dog is alive. Ford asks if he is going to fire Nessen, and Nessen says it is Ford's decision, so Ford says, "I guess we'll find out soon enough." Nessen tries to change the discussion to the press conference, but Ford seems not to understand the concept. Nessen also offers to make it seem as though Ford's physical gaffes are normal by having himself and Secret Service agents imitate any of Ford's fumbles. Ford tries to light a pipe with a Zippo lighter, so Nessen does the same, and when Ford gives up and drops the pipe, Nessen does so, as well. Nessen also carefully describes to Ford the concept of walking down a hallway, on top of a carpet and down three stairs to the press conference. Nessen leaves for the press conference, and Ford talks to his stuffed dog. At the press conference, Nessen addresses the issue of Ford's clumsiness by showing photos of his political opponents falling down. As Nessen defends Ford's athleticism, there is the sound of crashing and glass breaking off-screen. Ford enters with his hair disheveled and his suit sleeve torn, so Nessen tears his sleeve and encourages the Secret Service agents (Belushi & Morris) to do the same. When Ford drops his papers, Nessen and the agents follow suit, as well as when he bangs his head on the podium. They continue to imitate him as he fumbles with the microphones, falls down from a standing position and shouts for Liberty.
  • Ain't No Sunshine: Bill Withers song.
  • Weekend Update.
    • For the third time in as many weeks, Chase tries to call a correspondent in the war-torn nation of Angola. He reaches a janitor (Morris), who says it is 6 AM and nobody is in. Chase hangs up and says fighting has gone down in Angola.
    • Henry Zuckerman (Henry), Vice President of the Association of Fatuous Pedants, presents an editorial reply to a WU editorial criticizing the Catholic church, but as he talks, Chase makes faces behind his back.
    • As a public service to the deceased, Chase repeats the top story with the assistance of the Chairman of the Committee for Dead Americans, Alan Zweibel. Chase talks, and Zweibel sits motionless without saying nor doing anything.
  • Evelyn Woodski Speed Reader School: In a commercial airing during WU, Evelyn Woodski (Newman), head of the school, tries to read a statement promoting her speed reading school, but she trips over such easy words as "hello" and "reading."
  • Germasol Air Freshener: A commercial in which a housewife (Radner) is told her house stinks by her two bridge club compatriots (Curtin & Radner). The housewife worries about aerosol sprays, so one of her friends shows her how Germasol, a giant rub-on freshener, makes her house smell better.
  • Citizen Kane II: Mr. Thompson (Henry), who had investigated Charles Foster Kane's final word "Rosebud," gets a knock on his door from Kane's nurse (Newman), who says Kane followed that word with the name "Henri" (ON-ree). To investigate the meaning of this name, Thompson interviews Kane's friend Jed Leland (Chase), who remembers Henri as a printer at the newspaper. In flashback, Kane (Aykroyd) opens The New York Enquirer with his friends Jed and Mr. Bernstein (Belushi). When Bernstein says it is a slow day for news, Kane shoots six people out his window and orders Bernstein to turn it into a story. As he waits for the headline to be drawn up, Kane gets his lunch from a delivery boy (Morris), a roast beef sandwich on rye with mustard. Moments later, the printer Henri (Schiller) enters, so Kane fires him, but they argue over the best wording of his firing. Kane fires more bullets out his window to make the headline juicier, and everyone except Leland leaves. Kane hangs up his motto, which is to sell "billions of newspapers ... by any means possible." Back in the present, Thompson considers the fired printer too unimportant to be the subject of Kane's final words. The nurse remembers Kane's full final words were "rosebud... Henri... on mustard," but they can't decipher it. After they give up, the film shows an ad for a roast beef sandwich on rye with mustard being thrown into the furnace.
  • The Muppets - Scred's Sex Device: To spice up his sex with Queen Peuta (Tweedy), Scred (Nelson) has received a new "marital aid" he read about in Bound and Gagged magazine. With King Ploobis away, Scred tries to figure out how to work the device, but the instructions are in Japanese, so he just smacks Peuta with it. At last, he turns it on, and Peuta drops down behind the scenery as clothes and fur fly. Afterwards, Peuta asks for more, and Scred and Peuta duck down again.
  • Triple-Trac Razor Blades: A commercial for a new razor, which the announcer (Coe) says is the best because it has three blades. An animated demonstration shows the first blade pulling on the hair, the second blade pulling it further and the third blade finally cutting it. As the commercial ends, the announcer says, "The Triple-Trac, because... you'll believe anything."
    Toni Basil performs "Wham (Re Bop Boom Bam)."
  • Wham Re-Bop Boom Bam: Toni Basil song.
  • Mechanic's Bedtime Story: As mechanic Stu (Aykroyd) returns home, his wife (Curtin) asks him to put her daughter Debbie (Radner) to bed while she leaves for pottery class. The daughter asks for a bedtime story, and Stu reluctantly tells a story about his job, but his daughter keeps asking him to involve fairy tale characters. He relents and allows fairy tale concepts into her story until he is done talking about the garage. As she goes to bed, Debbie asks a savvy question about auto work, and Stu answers her before he realizes what she has asked.
  • Dope: An addict (Chase) rolls a joint, and then he takes off his belt to use as a tourniquet. He tries to jam the rolled joint into his vein, but he is unsuccessful. After he has destroyed the joint, a title card reads, "Why do you think they call it 'dope'?"
  • The Funniest Person in Town: Henry heads to the small town of Irvington, New York to find the funniest person in town. A bartender leads him to two dry cleaners, who lead him to their driver, who leads him to the police chief, who leads him to a sewer worker, who leads him to a random guy named "Lefty," who leads him to a woman named Marie, who says she is, in fact, the funniest person in town.
  • The Bees - King Bee: The Blues Bees perform the song "King Bee," backed up by Howard Shore and His All Bees Band. Their song is about how the king bee has any bee he wants.
  • Mike Douglas Impression: Henry introduces O'Donoghue as the "king of impressionists." O'Donoghue does an impression of talk show host Mike Douglas with needles driven into his eyes. He grabs his eyes and screams until he falls off the stage.
  • Wrigley's Gum: A commercial parody for Wrigley's gum, set at a funeral with the tagline, "The gum good enough to be enjoyed by the deceased." Radner plays the deceased's widow, and Newman and O'Donoghue are visible as two of the mourners.
  • American Constipation Society: A husband (Henry) admits to his wife (Curtin) he is constipated, but he speaks in euphemisms. When their friends (Chase & Radner) enter, their friends and his wife all start to make fun of him. A cop (Morris) enters and joins in the cruelty. The fake commercial ends with the slogan "Constipation: No Laughing Matter."


"Live from New York, It's Saturday Night!"

  • Chevy Chase as the suicide prevention center operator after the person on the other end of the line has shot himself.


Bill Withers performs "Ain't No Sunshine."
  • Ain't No Sunshine, performed by Bill Withers: One of the rare B-sides in history to prove more popular than the A-side single, Withers' first hit in 1971 originally backed up his song "Harlem." The famous repitition of the phrase "I know" was intended as a time-filler for other lyrics, but producer Booker T. Jones (who had experience with turning time-filler into a famous part of a song, as he had been back-up on Otis Redding's single "Dock of the Bay," which was not supposed to be released with whistling on the final track) suggested he leave it in, and Withers wisely did. This song charted at #3 in the USA and won a Grammy.
  • Wham (Re Bop Boom Bam), performed by Toni Basil: The most famous version of this bebop swing hit was recorded by the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Broadway recording artist Basil had few hits of her own throughout the 1960s and '70s, but she would become most famous in 1982 for her hit single "Mickey."


The Show

  • Uncredited Appearance: Cast member George Coe is not credited this episode, although he appears in the sketch "Triple-Trac Razor Blades." Also, cast member Michael O'Donoghue is credited separately from the Not-Ready-for-Primetime Players, although he had been credited as one of them several times earlier in the season.
  • Wayne Campbell's Japanese Granddaddy: Although certain segments, such as the Muppets and the Albert Brooks films had already recurred as of this point, they were all portrayed by actors outside the SNL cast. Certain sketches, such as Weekend Update and Looks at Books, had also recurred, but cast members recurring in them had all played themselves thus far in the show's history. Also, Chevy Chase had done a recurring non-impression impression of Gerald Ford on the show, but that was an impression of a real person, not a fully original character. There was also one recurring costume, and the "Land Shark" gag had twice been used in parodies of the movie Jaws. However, with the sketch "Samurai Delicatessen" on this episode Samurai Futaba becomes the show's first official recurring original character (although the distinction is minor, as the character was originally intended by actor John Belushi as an impression of Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune). This recurrence happened because host Buck Henry liked the character on his first appearance and suggested they bring him back. Writers and cast members reported being surprised, as they had not yet even considered original, recurring characters, but in years to come, such characters would become one of the show's trademarks.
    "Lie down, Liberty." President Gerald Ford talks to his beloved dog.
  • Branching Out: The sketch "The Oval Office" sees the first impression of a president outside of the cold opening sketch on SNL.
  • Callback: The microphones at the press conference in the sketch "The Oval Office" display the rejected logos for NBC which were joked about on WU in episode 1x09 - Elliott Gould/Anne Murray.
  • Guest Anchor: With his role as Henry Zuckerman, Buck Henry becomes the first host to make an appearance on Weekend Update.
  • Off-Color Sketch: The sketch "Citizen Kane II" is the first SNL sketch to be aired in black & white.
  • First Appearance: In this episode, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd play the "Blues Bees" in the sketch "King Bee." Belushi is lead singer of the fictional band, while Aykroyd wears a fedora and plays the harmonica. As a result of this dynamic, this sketch is considered by many to be the first appearance of the Blues Brothers.
  • Who's the Band?: The sketch "King Bee" marks the third time the house band were credited on the show, and the third time they wore weird costumes for their appearance and were credited under a strange name. For their first appearance, they were called "Howard Shore and His All Nurse Band," and they all wore nurses' uniforms, and for their second, they wore angel costumes and were known as "Howard Shore and His Band of Angels."

Behind the Scenes

  • Awards: Cast member Chevy Chase won the Emmy for "Outstanding Continuing or Single Performance by a Supporting Actor in Variety or Music" for the 1975-76 season for his work in this episode. Also, designers Edie Baskin and Bob Pook were nominated for the Emmy for "Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design and Title Sequences" for this same episode.

Allusions and References

  • Richard Nixon: The president with whom it is implied Linda Louise actually had her affair in the sketch "Presidential Foreplay" is Richard Nixon, not John F. Kennedy as she at first claims. Although handsome, wealthy Kennedy was known for his numerous affairs, Nixon was seen as far less attractive and more stern in his personal morality. He also had a hurt leg due to phlebitis, while Kennedy had a bad back, supposedly from a football injury as a young man. Louise's reference to "Bebe" is a nod to Florida businessman Charles "Bebe" Rebozo, a close friend of Nixon's. Her claim that "he promised to introduce me to David Frost" makes reference to the famous series of interviews of Nixon conducted by comedian and broadcaster David Frost in the days following the Watergate scandal which led to Nixon's resignation.

Memorable Moments

  • Samurai Deli.
  • The Oval Office.
  • Citizen Kane II.
  • Mechanic's Bedtime Story.


"Once upon a time, a guy comes into the shop with a small-block Chevy 6." Stu passes down a traditional children's story.
  • Charles Foster Kane: Jedediah, do you think I can hit that organ grinder down there from this far away? He looks to be about, oh, one hundred, two hundred yards. Let's see if I can get a bead on him. (Fires gun.) Damn! Bernstein!
    Mr. Bernstein: Yes, Mr. Kane.
    Charles Foster Kane: Get in an extra: Sniper Kills Organ Grinder's Monkey. Not Even Pets Safe in Weird Murder Spree."
  • Debbie: And did the... did the princess find the frog?
    Stu: No, but I did, right in the starter drive, right between the bendix spring and the armature. So I pulled out the armature, replaced all the brushes, and I brought....
    Debbie: Did Bambi come out of the forest?
    Stu: Bambi? Yeah, Bambi came out of the forest, this guy was goin' about sixty. (Claps.) Whammo! His radiator, the grille, gone! I had to put it right in. You know how hard it is to replace the radiator on a '63 Chevy? I got....
    Debbie: Did... did they all get married and live happily ever after?
    Stu: Well, this guy was married, and the bill wasn't too bad. Now, go to bed, will ya please?