Saturday Night Live/Richard Pryor/Gil-Scott Heron
From The TV IV
Richard Pryor/Gil-Scott Heron is the seventh episode of the first season of Saturday Night Live, and the seventh episode overall. It is the first appearance of either its host or its musical guest.
Short Film Cast: Albert Brooks (Himself)
- Garrett Morris Pratfall: At a dinner table, a man (Akroyd) with his date (Curtin) calls for a waiter, when two waiters (Morris and C. Chase) suddenly appear. C. Chase breaks character to ask what Morris is doing, to which Morris explains that, because Richard Pryor is hosting the show, he thinks it would only be appropriate for him to take the pratfall. They get into an argument, and C. Chase backs off when Morris discreetly threatens him. Morris does a weak fall, which leaves C. Chase to give him an example of how to do it. C. Chase has Akroyd restart the scene so he can trip over a chair, knock over the table and take Akroyd down with him (although he leaves Curtin unharmed).
- Richard Pryor's Monologue: R. Pryor dedicates the show to Miles Davis, who is in the hospital, although he's one of the coolest people R. Pryor knows. He delivers a stand-up routine about his woman problems, how drunk people always seem to be depressed, getting in fights all the time, why he doesn't take acid and the one time that he did take acid.
- Samurai Futaba - Samurai Hotel: Samurai Futaba (Belushi) is putting mail in the mailbox of his patrons when a man (C. Chase) asks for a room. He asks several questions about the hotel, but Futaba answers by screaming in unintelligible Japanese and gesturing with his sword. He calls over the bellboy (Pryor), also dressed as a samurai, to carry the man's bags upstairs. To decide who will have to carry his bags, they duel with each other until the bellboy cuts the front desk in half. Futaba suddenly starts speaking English and decides to get the man's bags after all.
- Johannesburg: Gil Scott-Heron song.
- Looks At Books - White Like Me: Curtin interviews Junior Griffin (R. Pryor) about his latest book, White Like Me. He used shoe polish to make his skin white and use the experience to get inside the white man's head as an examination of race in America. He also plugs his next book, from the perspective of a white Jewish-American princess, which will require a sex change operation.
- New Dad Insurance: Framed as a life insurance commercial, New Dad Insurance shows a father (Akroyd) what will happen if he were suddenly no longer in the picture. After he disappears from the commercial, a new father figure (C. Chase) appears thanks to the insurance policy. The wife (Jacqueline Carlin) starts making out with her new husband as he pastes his own face over that of his predecessor's.
- Police Line Up One: A boy scout (Schiller), a man wearing handcuffs (R. Pryor), a doctor (Belushi) and what looks like a businessman (C. Chase) are brought in as a police line-up to determine who assaulted a victim (Radner). She immediately identifies the one wearing handcuffs.
- Racist Word Association: During a job interview, an employer (C. Chase) and an applicant named Mr. Wilson (R. Pryor) begin a word association test. The employer throws out a word and Wilson answers with what comes to his mind immediately. This quickly turns ugly when the employer gives racial slurs regarding black people and Wilson responds using racial slurs against white people. This continues until Wilson intimidates him into giving him a high salary as a janitor in exchange for Wilson not hurting him.
- Pong - Hockey: Two hockey players have a conversation while one (Tom Davis) scores several points against the other (Al Franken), a goalie in real life. The goalie laments about an aggressive player who caused him to get stitches when they got into a fight.
- Black Family Takeover: The father of a family (Akroyd) laments about someone "taking over" at family dinner. While he complains, the phone rings and his daughter Polly (Radner) gets up to answer it. He continues to complain about "this black thing" being like the flu, and their son Scottie (Belushi) gets up to get more milk from the kitchen. Suddenly, Polly comes back, but she's now a black woman (McGee), followed by Scottie (R. Pryor), who apologizes for spilling the milk on the counter. The mother gets up, checks on it and comes back a different race as well (A. Chase). All the while, the father continues to complain, not noticing that his family has switched races.
- Weekend Update.
- In order to keep up the standard of having balanced viewpoints, Emily Litella (Radner) is introduced to give an opposing viewpoint to commentary given last week. She speaks out against "busting school children," mistakenly thinking that policemen are arresting children and putting them in jail far away from their homes. Of course, in actuality, the editorial was about bussing school children to desegregate schools. She apologizes and decides against commenting.
- As a public service, C. Chase introduces Morris to aid his repetition of the lead story for the benefit of those who are hard of hearing. Morris just repeats what C. Chase says, except screaming as loud as he can.
- 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.
- Police Lineup Two: The same man from the first line-up except with more bandages (R. Pryor) is placed in a line-up with a nun (Curtin), a goose and and ice box. A woman (Radner) is asked off screen by a police officer (Akroyd) if he's the man who took her purse, but she isn't sure. She asks if they can open the ice box just in case.
- Suicide Pill: A major (R. Pryor) is selected for a special mission by his general (Akroyd), who shows him the tools he will be using for his mission in the Ukraine, including a laser-guided grappling hook, a target-finder and a pill. The soldier takes the pill and drinks the water before the major can tell him the pill is a suicide pill that kills within 20 seconds of ingestion. The soldier suddenly gets a concerned look and collapses on the floor.
- The Muppets - Ploobis and Scred Get Drunk: King Ploobis (Henson) spends his time getting drunk and defying Queen Peuta (Tweedy) who wants him to go to bed. Scred (Nelson) comes by, and Ploobis forces him to drink more. Scred tells him that he should stop, but Ploobis explains that he drinks because he hates himself. The two decide to go see the Mighty Favog (Oz) and make fun of him. He responds by threatening their lives with lightning.
- Police Lineup Three: One more police line-up is introduced with all of the subjects dressed as policemen (Belushi, C. Chase, Schiller) except for the same man from the previous two line-ups (R. Pryor). Of course, he's fingered as the man who robbed a liquor store.
- Exorcist Two: A woman (Curtin) calls in two priests to exorcise a demon from her daughter. When the possessed child yells at them from off screen, Father Cloris (R. Pryor) attempts to get away, but his partner (Rasulala) refuses to let him leave. The two go to see Regan (Newman), who offends them with her foul breath and causes the furniture to move on its own. She drops the floating bed onto Cloris' foot, and he wails with agony while his partner rests. Regan asks for some pea soup and gets the bed off Cloris' foot so that he can get it for her. She throws the soup in his face and breaks a vase over his head. When she makes fun Cloris' mother however, he starts to strangle the girl until his partner comes back and stops him. When she makes fun of the other priest's mother, they both attack her.
- Albert Brooks Film - Sick Bed Agenda: Although Albert Brooks is sick, he films his short from bed. He films it alone because he doesn't want to get a crew of people sick and proceeds to interview his doctor while using the remote zoom to move the camera in and out. The doctor explains that Brooks has been doing the work of 30 people and it's a miracle that he's still alive. He suggests that Brooks not do his last movie and hangs up when a man delivering chicken comes and attempts to plug his record. In the last minutes of the short, Brooks puts up a sign that calls a man who developed his films on the wrong film a "stupid jerk."
- Kennedy Assassination Conspiracy: As R. Pryor starts to talk, an audience member (Schiller) interrupts to say he has proof that Lee Harvey Oswald collaborated with the CIA to kill John F. Kennedy but is shot before he can explain himself. R. Pryor insists that he had nothing to do with the man and that Dick Gregory is the one making the joke.
- Shelley Pryor's Story: Richard Pryor's wife Shelley tells a story about the carousel in Central Park. A white carousel horse named Ching couldn't go up or down like the other horses because a fat woman broke his spring. The horse was taken off the carousel and turned into a rocking horse outside of a drug store. But despite this, the carousel horse named Jing remains in love with Ching. The story turns out to be metaphorically about her marriage to Pryor and how society still looks poorly upon interracial marriages.
- Richard Pryor Standup Routine: R. Pryor gives a stand-up routine about his grandmother and how, while she was in church, he spent time with a bunch of winos who yelled at traffic and sang about Jesus.
- A Lovely Day: Gil Scott-Heron song.
"Live from New York, It's Saturday Night!"
- Johannesburg, performed by Gil-Scott Heron: "Johannesburg" is Gil-Scott Heron's most well known song and was one of his first departures from his background in jazz. The song is about the struggle against apartheid in the South African city and is a plea for justice in the area. The song was a top 30 hit and first appeared on From South Africa to South Carolina, a collaboration with Brian Jackson.
- Tubular Bells, composed by Mike Oldfield: This creepy, ominous piece of instrumental music, played almost entirely on bells, became famous as the theme to the 1973 film The Exorcist. It can be heard at the start of the "Exorcist Two" sketch.
- A Lovely Day, performed by Gil-Scott Heron: Just as Heron says before the performance, "A Lovely Day" is a song about "bright days and sunshine." It also appeared on the From South Africa to South Carolina album.
- MIA: Cast members George Coe and Michael O'Donoghue are not credited and do not appear in this episode.
- Breaking with Tradition: With this episode Garrett Morris becomes the first person other than Chevy Chase to deliver the show's opening line (although Chase says it in the course of the lead-up sketch). Based on the sketch, the switch seems to have been made to mark Richard Pryor's position as the first Black host of the show. Perhaps most significantly for this season, this is the first episode in which no one dresses up in a bee costume.
- Censored: During the original West Coast broadcast of this episode, NBC censored two instances of Pryor using the word "ass" in his monologue. These instances were later uncensored for syndicated broadcasts.
- First Appearance: The sketch "Samurai Hotel" is the first appearance of John Belushi's Samurai Futaba character. Also, this episode sees the first appearance of Emily Litella on Weekend Update, where she would become most famous and popular for arguing against important issues she has misheard, but this is not her first period overall. That honor goes to episode 1x05 - Robert Klein/ABBA, Loudon Wainwright III, in which she appeared in a Looks at Books sketch—another recurring sketch which appears in this episode.
- Repeat Sketches: The sketch "New Dad Insurance" originally aired in episode 1x01 - George Carlin/Billy Preston, Janis Ian, and the commercial for "Spud Beer" is a reuse of a sketch from episode 1x06 - Lily Tomlin/Howard Shore and His All Nurse Band.
- Bumps: In the original broadcast, instead of the bumps showcasing photographs of the host in various poses and costumes like usual, they were instead composed of old family photographs of Pryor's family. Only one of the bumps showed Pryor as he was in the present day. This, incidentally, was the only bump used for the episode when the first season of SNL was released on DVD.
Behind the Scenes
- Delay: This was the first instance in which a seven-second delay was instituted as a compromise to censors who feared the host would say something profane. Other episodes which had this delay include Sam Kinison/Lou Reed (12x04) and Andrew Dice Clay/Spanic Boys and Julee Cruise (15x19).
Allusions and References
- The Wizard of Oz: In the sketch "Ploobis Gets Drunk," Scred says to Favog, "Me and my little dog Toto here wanna go back to Kansas." Favog ends the sketch with the line, "The Mighty Oz has spoken." This is both a reference to the 1939 classic fantasy film The Wizard of Oz and a reference to Favog's voice and puppeteer, Frank Oz.
- Racist Word Association.
- Emily Litella on Weekend Update.
- Exorcist Two.
- (During word association between C. Chase and R. Pryor.)
Wilson: (Starting to get angry.) Peckerwood!
Wilson: (Defensive.) Cracker!
Interviewer: (Aggressively.) Spearchucker.
Wilson: White trash!
Wilson: (Upset.) Honky!
Wilson: (Really upset.) Honky honky!
Interviewer: (Relentless.) Nigger!
Wilson: (Immediate.) Dead honky. (Face starts to flinch.)
- Chevy Chase: Our top story night: Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.
- Chevy Chase: I'm sorry. The editorial was on bussing school children. Bussing. Bussing.
Emily Litella: Oh.
Chevy Chase: All right? Bussing.
Emily Litella: I'm sorry. Never mind.
- Exorcist Priest: The bed must be on the floor!
Father Cloris: The bed...
Father Cloris & Exorcist Priest: ... Must be on the floor! The bed must be on the floor! The bed must be on the floor! (Bed drops.)
Father Cloris: The bed is on my foot! The bed is on my foot!