Saturday Night Live

Season 1 Episode 23

Louise Lasser/Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Aired Saturday 11:30 PM Jul 24, 1976 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
27 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Live from New York, It's... Chevy Chase!

Sketches include "Belushi Trash-Talks Chevy," "Louise's Dressing Room," "General 'V.D' Amin," "Sven and Inger," "Human Hair Potholders," "Ode to Television," "Louise and Her Dog," "Boy Talk," "John Belushi Sells His Clothes," "The Diner" (film), and "Jimmy Carter for President," and "Louise's Year."

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band performed "Panama."moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • Louise Lasser Hosts and The Preservation Hall Jazz Band Provides The Music

    I have read about how this episode is one that Executive Producer Lorne Michaels and pretty much the whole cast and crew at the time hates with a passion. Watch it once and you will see why. It's pretty easy to see that Louise Lasser, fresh off the success of "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" (As well as a resent arrest for cocaine clearly could not handle the pressure of hosting a live television broadcast. Through out the episode I could not help but wonder what she was possibly thinking when she walked into this episode. She appears with a cast member only once in an early segment. That segment works but NOT because of her. The film of her in the diner is garbage. I still can't make any sense out of it. To top it all off, Lasser's closing monologue is beyond horrible. She actually thought that was a good idea. However the episode is not all bad. The Not Ready for Prime Time Players did an excellent job saving this episode from total disaster. According to a book I read titled "Saturday Night" Lasser locked herself in her dressing room and refused to go on seconds before airtime. Chevy Chase was prepared to do all of her parts on the show in a Mary Hartman wig. I almost wish that happened. It would have been better if Lasser stayed in her dressing room!moreless
  • Louise Lasser hosts this infamous episode of Saturday Night with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band as her musical guests.

    First of all, hello again! I just got back from New York City and got into the Shia/MMJ and Carell/Usher dress rehearsals so that was a good time. I also now have the third season on DVD as well so I'm looking forward to getting to that.

    Where to begin with this one? Louise Lasser had a pretty big hit with her show "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" and so, in a pretty straightforward marketing move, she was slated to host Saturday Night in order to promote it. Although, she turned out to be a lot more than the cast bargained for and the week leading up to this show was one of the first (of many) times the cast would struggle to get the host to cooperate and try to get the show together in time. This was also supposed to be a "treat" by adding this episode along with another one because of the show's Emmy wins. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band is the musical guest here, but the real story is Lasser. Let's examine this.

    Host: Louise Lasser

    Musical Guest: Preservation Hall Jazz Band

    Cold Open: John & Chevy's Handshake (Aykroyd, Belushi, Chase, Curtin, Morris, Newman, Radner)

    --The cast reunites on the stage after coming back from vacation and the feud between Chevy and John is finally put to rest with a hug and handshake...until Belushi lets him have it. The audience was clearly pumped to see all the old cast members back again but the bit is rather quick and obvious.

    Monologue: Nervous Louise (Lasser, Aykroyd, Chase, Radner)

    --Lasser gets a warm welcome but then stumbles all over her lines before she's even supposed to do so in the opening. She then runs off before Aykroyd, Radner, and the Land Shark (Chase) finally coax her out of her dressing room. She's clearly off-balance and this may have been decent with a better performance. Way overlong too.

    Commercial: Venereal Disease - Nothing To Clap About (Morris)

    --General Idi Amin (Morris) regrets that everyone can get VDs and not just Jews. Pretty decent bit for Garrett.

    Sven and Inger (Lasser, Chase)

    --A man (Chase) and woman (Lasser) enjoy some type of hot drink while a scroller and a voice narrates the text in German. This somehow goes into Death arriving and delivering pizza for them. I was confused too and the ending joke was pretty lame.

    Commercial: Human Hair Potholders (Curtin, Newman)

    --Squeaky Fromme (Newman) and Sandra Goode (Curtin) advertise for human hair potholders while they punish themselves for making mistakes. Not bad.

    Woman & Dog (Lasser)

    --Louise talks to a dog and tries apologizing for her earlier actions and tries to rebuild their relationship. Another really lame sketch here, as it consisted of Lasser stumbling through a one-person sketch that involved talking to a freakin' dog.

    Tribute To Television (Aykroyd, Curtin, Newman, Radner)

    --Aykroyd introduces a tribute to the television and in particular the cathode ray by Curtin, Newman, and Radner. The best part of this was the bit where the words on the screen said that only eight people alive understand all the technical references in the song. Otherwise, this was whatever.

    Weekend Update with Chevy Chase (also: John Belushi and Gilda Radner

    --Wow, when Chevy says "Boy are you glad to see me", I would have to agree. Despite the slow pace of the show thus far, Chase is on his game in this edition with lots of Ford bashing, one of my favourite bits ("Well it's all over but the shouting") and some Olympics updates. We also get an interview with Olga Korbut (Radner) via John Belushi that is quite hilarious, "Leon James" reporting on the Viking landing on the moon that you can barely hear, and then a Democratic Convention "report." Good effort from Chevy to boost the show.

    Boy Talk (Curtin, Radner)

    --Jane and Gilda talk about boys and Jane's fling in particular. It sounds pretty generic, but it's a well-written sketch that deserves to be in a better episode.

    Film: The Diner (Lorne Michaels, Lasser)

    --Louise and writer Alan Zweibel do a dramatic scene in a diner until they forget their lines and ask nearby people for them. How in the hell was this supposed to be funny? Quite awful and definitely the worst sketch in the first season.

    Commercial: John Belushi Wardrobe (Belushi)

    --John shills for his clothing that he has worn on Saturday Night and starts to get desperate because he needs the cash ("I'm serious. Buy my clothes.") Belushi is naturally funny and so this is a decent sketch.

    Carter's Campaign (Aykroyd, Curtin)

    --Jimmy Carter (Aykroyd) speaks from his staircase to campaign for the upcoming election. This is the first time he's doing the impression and even though it's not perfected yet, it's a good introduction to it even though the sketch is just there to basically give him an excuse for doing the impression.

    Preservation Hall Jazz Band performs "Panama"

    --Not the "Panama" of the Van Halen type, but a riffy jazzy tune instead. Not bad, but this style isn't really my bag and feels out of place on the show too.

    Louise's Year (Lasser)

    --Louise Lasser comes back out to the main stage to reminisce about her year and how her "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" show started up. This goes on for wayyyyyy too long and is painfully unfunny.

    The cast keeps their distance from Louise as she pets the dog from the earlier sketch and waves goodnight to the audience.

    Best segment: Boy Talk

    Worst segment: The Diner

    Host: Louise Lasser - 2/10

    Musical Guests: Preservation Hall Jazz Band - 5/10

    Louise Lasser absolutely killed the momentum the show had going for itself up to this point. I mean, not all the shows were absolute classics (the Christmas show and Cannon/Leon & Mary Russell come to mind) but they were never flat-out terrible and at least had their moments. Granted, this one had some bits that weren't terrible but either they were really quick like the Venereal Disease commercial and then the other one was the Boy Talk sketch that was really the only truly "good" sketch. Thank god for Chevy too, who delivered on Update and tried to elevate his sketch with Lasser.

    Rating: 3.5/10moreless
  • Another viewpoint on the Lasser episode.....despite Lorne Michael's dissatisfaction with the show.

    Notwithstanding firsthand opinions of cast and crew - Lasser was notably neurotic and difficult (by all published accounts). Remember the enormous sudden success of "Mary Hartman", and the nature of Lasser's character on that show. The confusion in the opening monologue was deliberate, and either Lasser beautifully portrayed a frantic deer in the headlights or someone 'on the verge of a nervous breakdown' kept all cues in place. Whichever way you look at it, I consider the episode a seminal moment in the realization of the extraordinary effects celebrity can have on those unprepared for it.moreless
  • The only worthy thing about this episode is . . .

    * Caution: This may have spoilers. *

    If only one thing about this otherwise sub-par episode was worth saving, it was the installment of "Weekend Update with Chevy Chase." ("The official news broadcast of the 1976 Olympic Games," announcer Don Pardo solemnly proclaimed.) With a particular teletype SFX heard only once on the show (but in use at the time on one of the local New York TV news broadcasts), Chevy was in particular form, from his opening remarks to the anti-climactic end with the phone call about the Democratic convention. A particular highlight was John Belushi, standing in front of a chroma-key blue background, wearing glasses and sporting a slight Eastern European accent, interviewing Olga Korbut (Gilda Radner) about Nadia Comaneci's victory at the Summer Olympics in Montreal. One of her answers was spoken in plain English and involved wanting to stick a balance beam in Nadia's eye - but Belushi "interpreted" her comments with such twaddle as along the lines of "wishing Nadia the very best" and "very appreciative to be part of the Olympics." Eventually Gilda would play Ms. Comaneci herself. And of course, here was the last of Chevy's fake "file reports," this time from "correspondent Leon James" about the Viking spacecraft, which didn't even finish as they prematurely cut back to him in the studio after the simulated Martian landing scenario went awry. Too bad the rest of this episode, for every reason cited, didn't measure up . . .moreless
Louise Lasser

Louise Lasser


Guest Star

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Preservation Hall Jazz Band


Guest Star

Michael Sarrazin

Michael Sarrazin


Guest Star

Joe Dicso

Joe Dicso


Recurring Role

Tom Schiller

Tom Schiller


Recurring Role

Featured Episode Clip

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Olga Korbut: (talking about Corbut's Olympic rival Nadia Comeneci) I would like to take that balance beam and stick it in her eye.

    • Gilda: Yeah, well, the whole family's on a diet. [joins Jane on the sofa] Move yer feet over. So, uh, what'd you let him, uh, get last night? A three or a four?
      Jane: I can't remember which is which. How's it go?
      Gilda: A three is over your shirt. A four is under your shirt, over the bra. So which was it, a three or a four?
      Jane: Five.
      Gilda: Five? On the third date? You mean you let him have a five? Oh, God.
      Jane: I had to! Otherwise, he would have known I was wearing a padded bra.
      Gilda: Oh, God.

    • Chevy Chase:  Good evening, I'm Chevy Chase, and boy are you glad to see me.

  • NOTES (6)

    • Lasser was the first SNL host to be banned from hosting again. The ban was due to what was perceived as an incoherent performance and Lasser's difficulty in working with the cast and crew (Lasser allegedly refused to appear in any sketches unless she was by herself or with cast member Chevy Chase). Lasser later admitted that she was battling depression and fatigue.

    • Michael Sazzarin, whom appeared in "The Diner" short film, later hosts in season 3.

    • This is the sixth episode on which a teletype sound effect other than that from NBC's own sound effects library was heard behind Chevy Chase on "Weekend Update." Once again, the Thomas J. Valentino/Major Records production music and sound effects library has been mined; however, the sound effect used is different from that which was heard from the Ron Nessen/Toni Basil, Patti Smith episode to the Buck Henry/Gordon Lightfoot episode. This variation was classified by Valentino/Major as "Teletype Receivers Battery." It was heard on some actual TV and radio newscasts over the years. The more famous examples included the opening title sequence for the "Newsroom 7: News Capsule" one-minute updates on WNAC-TV (Channel 7, later WNEV-TV and now WHDH-TV) in Boston, Massachusetts in the mid-1970's, and "The 10 O'Clock News" on WNEW-TV (Channel 5, now WNYW) in New York City, which used this particular teletype sound effect to be heard behind the news anchors in the studio from the newscast's 1967 debut well into the mid-to-late 1980's.

    • First appearance of Dan Aykroyd's Jimmy Carter impression.

    • Earlier in the week, Lasser and Chevy had filmed a sequence at Madison Square Garden, where the Democratic Convention was taking place. That film was not used. Allegedly, it would have been much better than the sloppy filmed piece Lasser demanded be shown on the broadcast.

    • Lorne Micheals was so dissatisfied with this episode that he barred it from repeats, although by 1981 it was being shown in a 60-minute syndication edit. As well, this episode was included in the 30-minute Best of Saturday Night Live package, and a new re-edit appeared on E!.