Saturday Night Live/Lily Tomlin/Howard Shore and His All Nurse Band

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Lily Tomlin/Howard Shore and His All Nurse Band
Season 1, Episode 6
Airdate November 22, 1975
Production Number 006
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
Albert Brooks (film)
Directed by Dave Wilson
Albert Brooks (film)
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Saturday Night LiveSeason One

Lily Tomlin/Howard Shore and His All Nurse Band is the sixth episode of the first season of Saturday Night Live, and the sixth episode overall. It is the first appearance of its host. As its official musical guest is merely the house band (later known as the Saturday Night Live Band) in costume as a gag, it is technically the musical guest's sixth appearance, but it is the first time the house band doubled as musical guest.

Guest Stars: Lily Tomlin (Host), Howard Shore and His All Nurse Band (Musical Guests)

Muppet Voices and Puppeteers: Jerry Nelson (Scred), Alice Tweedy (Queen Peuta), Richard Hunt (King Ploobis's Right Hand), Jim Henson (King Ploobis)


Episode Breakdown

  • President Ford: A Gerald Ford impersonator—whom title cards admit isn't very good, "but Rich Little won't work for scale"—addresses the nation regarding the financial default of New York City and Ronald Reagan's bid for the presidency. As he talks, he sneezes and wipes his nose on his tie, answers a glass of water instead of the telephone and bangs his head on the desk. He gets a phone call from Anwar Sadat, whom he refers to Henry Kissinger by calling Kissinger on another phone and laying the two phones next to each other, but when he hangs up, he puts the phones on the opposite receivers. He shows a chart of his popularity going up while Reagan's is going down, and as he tries to change the charts, falls backwards over the desk.
  • Lily Tomlin's Monologue: Tomlin talks about how much she loves being in New York and reads observations about the city from her notebook. She ends with a little cheer for the city.
  • Beethoven's First: Ludwig von Beethoven (Belushi) sits at his piano composing, but his wife (Radner) and maid Freeda (Newman) are worried about him, because he is not eating, and when they get his attention by touching him, all he says is, "Good morning! How are you?" Distraught, Freeda and Mrs. Beethoven leave, and after they are gone, Beethoven plays a few bars of "Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Ole Oak Tree."
  • St. James Infirmary: Lily Tomlin with Howard Shore and His All Nurse Band song. Tomlin sings the song in the style of a lounge singer, while the band is all dressed in nurses outfits.
  • Triopenin: A commercial for an arthritis medication, and the screen shows a man's hands as he rubs them in pain. When a bottle of Triopenin appears, the man tries to open the bottle, but finds it impossible to open. The logo for the medicine shows the bottle is smashed open as the announcer promotes the "new child-proof safety cap."
  • Jaws III: A woman (Newman) is at home alone, when she gets someone at her door (Chase) who claims to be a telephone repairman, a person she may be blocking in and at last a candygram, but when she opens the door, she is eaten by a Land Shark. Matt Hooper (Belushi) and Sheriff Brady (Aykroyd) realize the Land Shark is attacking the same building, so they head over to warn women. A woman named Patricia (Curtin) learns she should hit the shark with a blunt instrument, so when Hooper and Brady knock on her door, she accidentally clobbers Brady with a mallet. As he writhes in pain, Hooper tells her not to open her door unless she hears a special knock. After they leave, she hears the special knock and someone claiming he left his goggles inside, but when she opens the door, it is the Land Shark. At their office, Hooper leaves Brady alone, and the Land Shark attacks and kills Brady. Another woman (Radner) hears the radio, where the announcer (Don Pardo) is about to say how to fight the shark, but the announcer dies, and the Land Shark claims people should welcome the shark and "make him feel at home." When this woman gets a knock on her door from the Land Shark admitting who he is, she invites him in and is killed. Hooper informs Mrs. Brady (Tomlin) of her husband's death and heads over to her apartment. She lets Hooper into her apartment and flirts with him, but Chase tells them the sketch is running long, and they need to cut it. As Tomlin leaves in anger, the Land Shark eats her, too.
  • The Clumsy Bellboy: Two hotel guests (Morris & Curtin) are making out when a bellboy enters. He sees what they are doing and, embarrassed, drops the newspaper he is carrying all over the floor. As he fumbles to gather up the newspaper, he apologizes profusely.
  • Edith Ann on Ice: Five-year-old Edith Ann (Tomlin) goes ice skating. Her dog Buster is "not allowed on the ice," so she has "pasted his paws to the floor." She talks about ankle exercises as she staggers and slips all over the ice.
  • Beethoven's Second: Ludwig von Beethoven (Belushi) still hasn't eaten, and his wife (Radner) and maid (Newman) are still worried about him. After they leave, Beethoven works out a few bars of his Fifth Symphony, then transitions into "My Girl," which he starts singing as "Mein Frauelein."
  • Weekend Update.
    • After the Spud Beer commercial, Chase also plugs Spud Beer, saying he drinks it and pours it on his suit.
    • Chase repeats the top story with the help of Morris from a school for the Hard of Hearing, but Morris just shouts the top story at the top of his lungs.
  • Spud Beer: In a commercial which airs during WU, after a session of electroshock therapy, mental patients enjoy Spud Beer, the potato-based beer, because they can no longer tell how awful it tastes. Morris appears as one of the orderlies.
  • Patty Hearst: Infamous bank robber Patty Hearst's sorority sister Susie (Tomlin) writes a letter to Hearst in prison. When Susie's roommate (Newman) enters, Susie defends her decision and asks if her roommate stole her Carpenters Greatest Hits album. After her roommate leaves, Susie reads her letter, which describes more suburban ideals, sung like a Carpenters-style song.
  • Show Us Your Guns: A short film in which people stand on the bed of a pick-up truck with a sign which reads, "Show Us Your Guns." As the truck passes, people from all walks of life pause to show off their handguns, machine guns and assault rifles. One gangster reaches for his gun, but his friend shakes his head, and the gangster declines. A traffic cop can't find his gun and shrugs. In the end, the announcer encourages viewers to show off their guns "when you see our truck in your neighborhood."
  • The Muppets - Scred in Love: King Ploobis (Henson) can't find Scred (Nelson), and Queen Peuta (Tweedy) says he may have left. She investigates his crater to find a picture of Tomlin on the wall and a picture of his former love, Fran Allison, in the trash, as well as a love letter to Tomlin. Ploobis realizes Scred has left to find Tomlin and fears for Tomlin. Meanwhile, Tomlin talks to Scred and worries she can't find love with a puppet, but Scred reassures her they should "keep it light." Scred and Tomlin sing a duet of "I Got You Babe."
  • Albert Brooks Film - The Impossible Truth: The Impossible Truth News finds strange and bizarre stories. A cabbie still works after being blinded by the spotlights at a movie premiere. Israel and Georgia trade places, with each one's governments and populations moving to the other location; the prime minister of Israel hopes to get along better with New Orleans than he does with Cairo, while the governor of Georgia hopes for a dry heat. Oregon lowers its age of consent to seven, and the news reporter (Albert Brooks) finds a "casting producer" from Los Angeles who is on a date with a precocious seven-year-old girl.
    Ludwig von Beethoven shows off his soul.
  • Beethoven's Third: Again, Freeda (Newman) and Mrs. Beethoven (Radner) fear for Ludwig von Beethoven (Belushi). Again, they leave, but this time, after they are gone, Beethoven takes a hit of snuff and slips on dark glasses. He launches into a version of "What'd I Say." Hearing the singing, Mrs. Beethoven and Freeda rush into the room and join in the call-and-response part of the song, and they smoothly transition into being his back-up singers.
  • Streetside Savvy: A female construction worker (Tomlin) teaches her class of female students how to use a jackhammer and then switches to making cat-calls at passing men with the help of a male model (Aykroyd). Her first student (Curtin) is at first nervous but soon gets the hang of it. Her second student (Radner) and third student (Newman) also catch on quickly. The model becomes increasingly uncomfortable and starts to protest. As they break for lunch, he tries to confide in the second student, but she doesn't understand.
  • Speed: A busy housewife and career woman talks about all her jobs and hobbies, but she keeps talking and doesn't stop. The announcer says her secret is a diet pill, Speed.
  • 50's Dance: Tomlin performs a monologue as a rebellious 1950s high school girl talking to her friend Margot about her crush Frankie, who is also seemingly rebellious. When Frankie enters, the teen pretends not to notice, but she is crushed when Frankie dances with another girl, although she tries to blow it off.
  • The Bees - Bee Scat: Tomlin is joined by cast members Newman, Morris, Radner and Chase, all dressed in bee costumes, as well as "Howard Shore and His All Nurse Band." Morris suggests that they perform a little "bee-bop" in "bee flat," and together the host, the cast members and the band improvise a short scat song.


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


  • Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Ole Oak Tree, performed by John Belushi: This 1940s-style song was actually first performed in 1973 by Tony Orlando and Dawn, for whom it became a #1 hit in the US and the UK. It is sung from the point of view of a convict asking his wife to tie a yellow ribbon around a tree in her yard so he can see she is still thinking of him, but it became popular amongst the homefront family members of soldiers in Vietnam, as well. Belushi performs just a few bars of its recognizable melody on his piano.
    Lily Tomlin and Howard Shore and His All Nurse Band perform "St. James Infirmary."
  • St. James Infirmary, performed by Lily Tomlin with "Howard Shore and His All Nurse Band": A blues standard which may date back as far as the late 19th century. It was performed on the show because bandleader Howard Shore found an old blues recording of it in NBC's massive musical library. In a conscious effort to involve the band more in the show, he conceived of performing the song, but it was decided the band should be dressed in nurse's uniforms as a joke. Hence the existence of "Howard Shore and His All Nurse Band."
  • Theme from Jaws, composed by John Williams: Although he had previously won Oscars and nominations for scoring such films as Valley of the Dolls, Goodbye, Mr. Chips and Fiddler on the Roof, it was his simple theme for the 1975 Steven Spielberg film Jaws—two low, deep notes played slowly at first, then increasing in speed as they are repeated to suggest impending danger and a shark attacking from deep underwater—which made Williams one of the most famous and recognizable film score composers in the world. The successful collaboration, his second with Spielberg, also launched a long career together, in which Williams has scored almost every Spielberg film, including such popular and award-winning themes as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and Schindler's List. The Jaws theme plays in this episode in the sketch "Jaws II," whenever the land shark talks to any of the women he is about to eat.
  • My Girl, performed by John Belushi: A soul hit single originally written by Smokey Robinson and Ronald White and released in 1964 performed by the Temptations. The single was a smash hit and rocketed the group to fame.
  • I Got You Babe, performed by Lily Tomlin and Scred: The male-female duet pop song which became a #1 hit for Sonny & Cher in 1965 and made the duo famous.
  • What'd I Say, performed by John Belushi, Gilda Radner and Laraine Newman: Ray Charles' 1959 R&B smash hit which is credited by some as being the first soul song in rock history. Charles' revolutionary musical improvisation and call-and-response caused controversy on its first release when it was charged with referring to sex (which Charles admitted it did). The song is a rock classic and still considered one of the most influential pop or rock songs of all time.


The Show

  • Prophetic Joke: On Weekend Update, Chevy Chase makes a joke about then presidential candidate Ronald Reagan changing his mind on toy gun control after being attacked by a man with a toy gun. In real life, when then-President Reagan was shot and almost killed by a man with a real gun in 1981, he began to favor more gun control and championed the famous "Brady Bill," which limited handgun sales.
    "No secrets, Lily." Not for the last time, Tomlin acts opposite one of Jim Henson's creations.
  • On the Muppet Sh... Er... Saturday Night Tonight: With the "Scred in Love" sketch, Tomlin becomes the first host to interact with the Muppets. In fact, taken out of context, this whole sketch was the first to really be a forerunner of the style of bizarre but accessible humor and touching but not sickening sweetness which would characterize The Muppet Show, which would debut in a year. Also worth noting is how, despite the duet being prefaced by Tomlin referring to Scred as a puppet, Scred's movements and emotions are so natural through the duet as to almost make him seem lifelike and make it easy to forget he is, in fact, just a puppet, such that it is almost shocking when the camera cuts back and shows Muppeteer Jerry Nelson operating him. As a result, this is perhaps the first Muppets sketch on SNL to truly showcase creator Jim Henson's particular brand of genius.

Behind the Scenes

Allusions and References

  • One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest: The commercial "Spud Beer" is a parody of this critically acclaimed and commercially successful 1975 film about inmates at a mental institution, which would go on to win the Oscar for Best Picture for the year. Belushi also references the film at the end of the sketch "Jaws III" with the line, "I turned down a job on Cuckoo's Nest for this."

Memorable Moments

  • Beethoven's First, Beethoven's Second and Beethoven's Third.


  • Chevy Chase: Meanwhile in Miami, a man tried to attack Reagan with a fake pistol a few short hours after the announcement. Reagan said he was not shaken, but later, he about-faced on an issue that he strongly opposed for years, calling for strenuous toy gun control legislation.