Saturday Night Live

Season 1 Episode 17

Ron Nessen/Toni Basil, Patti Smith

Aired Saturday 11:30 PM Apr 17, 1976 on NBC



  • Trivia

    • During their performance of "My Generation," the Patti Smith Group Patti shouts obscenities at the end of the song, then says "kill censorship!" Ironically, when this episode was repeated two years later a feedback sound effect was overdubbed to cover the obscenities, although you can still hear Patti's kill censorship comment. This censored version also appears in the First Season DVD set.

    • During the montage, Don Pardo reads the cast names, says "and Laraine Newman", forgetting that Gilda's picture comes after Laraine's. Pardo quickly cuts in "And Gilda Radner!" as he realizes his mistake.

    • During "An Oval Office," One camera pans a bit too far and reveals the stairs leadig to the studio balcony. (NBC's technical union was on strike that week, forcing heads of department to run the studio equipment.)

  • Quotes

    • Ron Nessen: [ confused, pause ] And that's why I want to host this show.. to demonstrate that this administration has a sense of humor. You may remember in 1968, Nixon said, "Sock it to me" on "Laugh-In", and it may have made the difference in the election.
      President Gerald Ford: He won, didn't he, Ron?
      Ron Nessen: Yes, he did, sir.
      President Gerald Ford: [ chuckles to himself ] By golly, he was funny then, and he's funny now. He's a funny man, Ron.
      Ron Nessen: Yes, sir.
      President Gerald Ford: That's why I gave him a break, Ron. [ to stuffed dog on floor ] Stop that infernal noise, Liberty! [ to Ron ] Well, by all means do the show.
      Ron Nessen: Thank you, sir. Now, the producer suggested you might like to do something on the show yourself.
      President Gerald Ford: Well, I can take a joke just so far.. [ stands up and walks behind desk ] ..but I won't have this high office ridiculed. I won't have me stumbling around.. [ walks into window ] ..making a fool of myself.. [ walks into flag and fumbles with it, trying to keep it from falling ] ..for some late night comedy show. [ picks up football helmet and puts it on ] I don't need to prove that I can fall down like Chevy Chase or be an athlete. Everyone knows I'm an athlete. [ accidentally kicks wastepaper basket and chases it, soon giving up and returning to his desk ] I'll never forget those wonderful days.. [ picks up tennis racket, throwd it in the air to try and catch it, but misses. Walks over to "Liberty", cups his hand near the dog's tail ] Gimme the ball, Liberty! [ takes off helmet, tries to drop-kick it but misses. Returns to desk and sits down ] Why don't you brief me on my schedule tomorrow, Ron?
      Ron Nessen: Alright, sir. [ looks at schedule ] You'll be awakened at 5:30 AM in the usual manner.
      President Gerald Ford: Ron, I'm getting pretty tired of the twenty-one gun salute which Dick Nixon instituted. Couldn't someone just speak in my ear or set the alarm clock?
      Ron Nessen: We tried the alarm clock at the beginning, if you remember, sir. When it went off, you answered the telephone and broke your ankle. I guess we should have briefed you on that. You see, sir, the telephone is the one that has the series of short staccato rings, and the alarm clock is the long continuous ring.
      President Gerald Ford: Well, never mind that now, go on.
      Ron Nessen: [ reading list, as Ford checks his own ] 6:17, shave and brush your teeth. 6:28, yawn and stretch. 6:30, get out of bed. 7:05, break the water glass by the sink and Mrs. Ford's shampoo bottle by mistake. 7:12, tumble down the stairs. 9:00 - well, do you remember the cow in Wisconsin, Mr. President?
      President Gerald Ford: The one that made the doody on my suit, Ron? Yes.
      Ron Nessen: Yes, well, at 9:00 you're going to give a medal to the secret service man who wrestled the cow to the ground.
      President Gerald Ford: Let's get to the point here. When is the Easter Egg Hunt?
      Ron Nessen: That's at 9:30, sir.
      President Gerald Ford: Well, I better hang the kids' stockings and get ready..
      Ron Nessen: I'm sorry, Mr. President, but that's the wrong holiday. I think we probably should have briefed you on this before.

    • Chevy Chase:  Good evening, I'm Chevy Chase and you're not.
      President Gerald R. Ford: (on film)  Good evening, I'm Gerald Ford and you're not.

  • Notes

    • Ron Nessen is the first NBC News reporter to host SNL. He was the network's Washington correspondent until he was hired as President Ford's press secretary in September 1974. As a result, he was also the first political figure to host the show.

    • Another consequence of the technicians' strike is that starting with this episode, the teletype sound effect heard behind Chevy Chase on "Weekend Update" was that from the Thomas J. Valentino/Major Records production music and sound effects library (classified by Valentino as "Teletype Receiver"). The usual teletype sound effect which originated from NBC's own in-house sound effects library (and was also heard on the opening theme for the one-minute NBC News Update newscasts in 1979-1980) would not return until the Elliott Gould/Leon Redbone episode.

    • Beginning with this episode, the technical credits (technical director, lighting, sound, video, and assistant lighting director) are removed from the end credit crawl. This can most likely be explained by the technical strike that affected the show this week; these credits eventually reappear in the Elliott Gould/Leon Redbone episode.

    • The "Complete First Season" DVD release has several prominent audio edits: the opening theme music is replaced with the canned theme heard in the menus and a redone Pardo voiceover, eliminating Pardo's stumble when announcing Newman and Radner's names. As well, the theme and applause plays continuously under Ford's introduction of Nessen. The theme music on the original broadcast sounded particularly crudely mixed (with the organ being quite prominent) and did not play during the Ford film. As well, the scattered applause that originally appeared at the end of the second Patti Smith Group performance was overdubbed with more robust applause.

    • During the goodnights, Nessen mentions that Toni Basil and the Muppets were unable to appear on tonight's show due to "technical complications," and mentions next week's host is Raquel Welch (adding "now they tell me!" afterward). This is edited in reruns. The 7/1/78 rerun also obscures Patti Smith singing "goddamn" with feedback squalls and adds a repeat of the "Try-Hard 1-11" commercial.

    • The "Berkeley Collection" and "Try Hard 1-11" ad spoofs are repeated from earlier in the season.

    • The show was done during a tech strike, which accounts for the particuarly stilted camera work.

    • This is the second episode this seasont to feature "The Dead String Quartet" as the cold opening.

    • The 38th President of the United States Gerald Ford makes three filmed appearances on this episode. He is the only president to say "Live From New York, its Saturday Night!". He's also the only person (other than castmembers Chevy Chase and Garrett Morris) to say the line during the first season.

    • Despite the special attention added due to the host, this episode has some of the most raunchiest material seen on SNL this far.

  • Allusions