Saturday Night Live

Season 3 Episode 18

Steve Martin/The Blues Brothers

Aired Saturday 11:30 PM Apr 22, 1978 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
28 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Live From New York, It's... Paul Shaffer! Sketches include "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert," "Hey You!," "Wild & Crazy Guys," "Theodoric of York: Medieval Barber," "Dancing In The Dark," "King Tut," "Extramarital Foreplay," "Swan Lake" (film), "Troff 'n' Brew," "Nerds Science Fair," and "Next Week In Review." Jake and Elwood Blues performed "Hey Bartender" and "I Don't Know."moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • On Top of the Mountain

    Before I start my analysis, I would like to point out to the person who wrote the analysis that "King Tut" does appear in this episode and not in Steve Martin's previous hosting. Coincidentally, I happen to know the guy who wrote the analysis for this episode, and I flogged him mercilessly.

    He was right on one point, though: this is generally considered to be SNL's greatest episode. This episode has a bevy of memorable moments, from The Blues Brothers' first credited appearance to the Radner-Martin boogie "Dancing in the Dark\\\" to the aforementioned "King Tut."

    And now, a sketch-by-sketch analysis:

    "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert": Rock guru Kirshner (an unaccredited Paul Shaffer) introduces a pair of brothers from the South Side of Chicago whose sound is heavily influenced by Blues Music. A franchise sketch is born.

    MONOLOGUE: Steve Martin complains about being considered as merely a comedian and not by his other talents, such as magic. After a middle-class Pennsylvanian (Bill Murray) volunteers to help perform one of his tricks, Martin eventually robs him and gradually rips his clothes off. I didn't quite get it either.

    "Hey You!": Fake ad in which Gilda Radner plays the field and lands into a one-night stand. Regarded as one of the best of James Signorelli's commercials, and certainly daring for 1978.

    "Ferstrunk Brothers": The two \\\"Wild and Crazy Guys\\\" swing and jiggle while waiting for two \\\"American Foxes.\\\" Their friend Cliff (Garrett Morris) thinks they\\\'re being duped, only to see two models enter their apartment schmoozing with the Ferstrunks. It works like a miniature sitcom, though it feels more obnoxious with age.

    "Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber": Martin plays a 14th century barber who also doubles as a surgeon and faith healer, thus serving as the center of a gritty and nasty sketch that works to become an amusing ensemble piece. Two highlights: John Belushi as a Buddy Hackett-type monk and Martin\\\'s sketch-ending soliloquy.

    "Dancing In The Dark": Martin and Gilda Radner dance, mingle, and pretty much bust a move in three very charming minutes of music and mayhem. The best sketch of the night. Also, look for Brian Doyle-Murray sitting at Radner\\\'s table.

    WEEKEND UPDATE: Dan Aykroyd and Garrett Morris do a special report on paraquats, and when Aykroyd complains about the light delivery, Morris relunctantly goes back to the dealers. Near the end of the sketch, Aykroyd reports Morris\\\' death as \\\"drug-related.\\\" Eh.

    "Extramarital Foreplay": While reading in bed, husband and wife admit to having affairs with people outside their generation. Their submergence into grotesque detail followed by an awkward reconsiliation is what really makes this sketch funny.

    "Tchiakovsky Ballet": This short film by Gary Weis depicts two different variations of an excerpt from \\\"The Nutcracker,\\\" one traditional and one very contemporary. As much as I like Weis, this is just time filler.

    "King Tut": Martin's rant about rampant commercialism on the tour of the Egyptian king's tomb leads to a memorable and hilarious song parody featuring "The All-Pharoah Band."

    "Troff N' Brew": The hottest restaurant in town for white and blue collars alike is a little joint where you literally eat like a pig. In other words, a concept sketch that goes way over the head.

    "Nerds Science Fair": Junior-high competition pits one doofus (Martin) after another (Murray) in a duel for a another dweeb's heart (Radner). Another franchise is born, though Martin's character would later be phased out.

    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: One more with Jake and Elwood, the bouncy "I Don't Know."

    "Next Week In Review": Three eccentric mediums (Aykroyd, Newman, Martin) recap the near future to the phony astonishment of the show's host (Curtin). An interesting concept with a predictable result.

    I can see why many people remember this as the peak in SNL's era of domination. From what I saw, it was an uneven night but there is no really bad sketch; heck, even the most obtuse segments had something going for them. Maybe this is what a sketch comedy show should be: a variety program driven by great performers and consistent writers. I'm still not sure, however, if this is really SNL's funniest episode, though it's definitely in my top five.

    Feel free to contact me at sma17kc@netscape.netmoreless
  • "He gave his life for tourism!"

    This episode is one that went down in the history books, folks. For the unprecedented third time in a season, Steve Martin returned to host this episode of Saturday Night Live and it really helped out the cast and crew because as the season wears down, the exhaustion starts to overcome them. This time, Martin brings along with him the Blues Brothers as the musical guest, so essentially there is none and it's just John and Danny doing their bluesmen schtick. This must've been a huge shock to the audience at the time, who had no clue if this would even pan out and why there was no legitimate musical guest. Although, after this episode I'm sure you'll agree that the Blues Brothers were definitely a legitimate guest, whether they were already castmembers or not. On with the show!

    Cold Open: Don Kirshner's Rock Concert (Blues Brothers) (3:34)

    --Don Kirshner (musician Paul Shaffer) opens the show by introducing the Blues Brothers (John and Danny) to perform "Hey Bartender!" While not their first performance (they did a brief bit in the first season as "The Blues Bees"), this is a classic era-defining moment.

    Monologue (Martin, Murray) (6:00)

    --Steve comes out as his usual giddy self to riff about where to choose source material for comedy, visiting France, and more. Steve then picks out a volunteer (Murray) from the audience to do some magic on and ends up stripping the guy down. A typically wonderful monologue from Mr. Martin again.

    Commercial: Hey You! (Radner, Davis, Franken) (1:28)

    --A repeat of the brilliant bit from earlier in the season about the perfume for one-night stands.

    Festrunks Bachelor Pad (Martin, Aykroyd) (7:58)

    --Another edition of the brothers Festrunk (Martin, Aykroyd) as they await the arrival of some "foxes with big American breasts." Once again, Cliff (Morris) arrives first and sets the brothers straight about how the foxes set them up. Much to Cliff's surprise though, the two ladies (Newman, Radner) do indeed show up. Really funny, as this recurring sketch continues to improve every time.

    Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber (Martin, Aykroyd, Belushi, Curtin, Murray, Newman, Radner) (6:33)

    --Theodoric (Martin) acts as a barber and a very poor doctor in Medieval times, whose main method seems to be bloodletting. My favourite part of the sketch is one man (Murray) who has broken his legs after drinking too much mead. This is a really fun ensemble sketch with a terrific ending though and highlights everyone's abilities.

    Dancing in the Dark (Martin, Radner, Davis, Franken) (3:12)

    --In a bar, a man (Martin) and woman (Radner) make eye contact from across the room and suddenly, everyone else is ignored as they dance all around the bar and around the studio. Quite a lovely piece of cinematography and an early highlight of this episode.

    Weekend Update with Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin (also: Garrett Morris) (6:06)

    --Jane notes that Jimmy Hoffa has not been missing, but rather has been on Lou Grant's show. Aykroyd then talks of another man being still alive, that of Lyndon Johnson. The third installment of Point/Counterpoint is all about Federal aid for abortions ("Jane, you ignorant misguided slut!"). Garrett Morris then comes by to sell Dan some weed to test it for paraquats, but Danny notes that its really light for the amount of money that he paid for. Later on, Morris is reported dead from a paraquat-related incident. Tight, solid edition of Update.

    King Tut (Martin) (2:59)

    --Steve complains about the commercialization of King Tut and then segues right into a song that does that very thing. An absolute classic.

    Love Story (Belushi, Curtin) (4:44)

    --A hilarious sketch in which a couple (Belushi, Curtin) exchange stories to each other of their recent infidelities with people in a much different age bracket. This somehow enrages them to have sex in the end.

    Weis Film #37: Swan Lake Ballet (1:53)

    --This may be the only weak portion of the show, as this feels a bit like filler but clocking in at under two minutes, it's pretty harmless.

    Troff 'n' Brew (Martin, Aykroyd, Belushi, Curtin, Morris, Murray, Newman, Radner, Davis, Franken) (2:57)

    --A new restaurant, the Troff 'n' Brew, opens nearby an office building where everyone ends up going for lunch. A terrific visual gag involves everyone eating chili right out of a trough just like a pig while carrying on a typical conversation over lunch. Another great bit.

    Nerds Science Fair (Martin, Curtin, Morris, Murray, Radner) (5:32)

    --This is where the Nerds really take off as Lisa (Radner) and Todd (Murray) face off against Charles Knerlman (Martin) and Grant Robinson Jr. (Morris) in a science fair. The Blues Brothers sing "I Don't Know" (3:54)

    --Two of the most dominant castmembers give a terrific performance of this blues classic with John doing vocals and Danny doing harmonica.

    Next Week in Review (Martin, Aykroyd, Curtin, Newman) (4:56)

    --A show that features three psychics (Martin, Aykroyd, Curtin) predicting what is to happen in the upcoming week. I enjoyed this as a solid 10-to-1 bit with a funny ending.

    Steve flubs around a bit but recovers nicely to say goodbye to all and gets joined by the cast on stage.

    Best segment: King Tut

    Worst segment: Swan Lake Ballet

    Host: Steve Martin - 9/10

    Musical Guest: The Blues Brothers - 9/10

    What a terrific, classic show. Steve Martin was an absolutely wonderful host, acting as the star of most of the sketches he appeared in, but never seeming to be smug or anything. Also, having John and Danny do their Blues Brothers routine as a musical guest was quite a smart idea too and allowed for two truly memorable musical numbers. There is much more to be said about the show. The writing on this episode is fantastic from the recurring bits like the Festrunks and the Nerds to the magic that is the King Tut musical number and "Dancing in the Dark" with Steve and Gilda. Even the lesser-known bits like "Love Story" were quite funny and everything just sort of had a magic touch. Superb episode and I'm going to have to agree with Stu on the rating for it.

    Rating: 10/10moreless
The Blues Brothers

The Blues Brothers


Guest Star

Michael O'Donoghue

Michael O'Donoghue


Recurring Role

Steve Martin (I)

Steve Martin (I)


Recurring Role

Paul Shaffer

Paul Shaffer

Don Kirshner

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • In the "Theordic of York" sketch, when Theordic (Martin) drags the drunk (Bill Murray) to he hung upside down as a cure for the drunk's broken legs, the bloody prostethic simulating that Bill Murray had broken his leg comes off.

    • According to the script reproduced in the book Saturday Night Live: The First Twenty Years, the Caladrius bird is supposed to fly away as soon as Theodoric of York (Steve Martin) takes the top off its cage. On air, Martin removed the top and the bird just stood on its perch, looking around at nothing in particular. Martin ad-libbed to Brunglida (Gilda Radner), "Can you interpret these signs?" He defeatedly starts to take the perch away and then the bird flew off.

    • At the beginning of the "Weekend Update" segment, Dan Aykroyd introduces himself as "Dave Aykroyd" and Jane Curtin introduces herself as "Jean Curtin."

  • QUOTES (2)

    • Steve Martin: For me?! Thank you! Thank you very much! You know, a lot of people come to me, and they say, "Steve, where do you get your comedy ideas?" Well, I try to draw them from real life, things that happen to you and me every day, things we can all relate to. Like, early in the morning, you're sound asleep, the telephone rings, and you pick up the phone and your voice is all scratchy and gravelly... and you're going, "Hello-o-o-o..." The voice on the other end of the phone always says, "Oh. Did I assassinate your penguin?" [ audience chuckles lightly ] I can see this happens to you, too! Because you have to have ideas that relate to everyone, that everyone can understand. Not come out here and do things that are over the audience's head, otherwise you may as well be like, uh... Dimitri in Con Disio Humane... or Eduardo in "The Possessed".

    • Theodoric of York: Wait a minute, perhaps she's right. Perhaps I've been wrong to blindly follow the medical traditions and superstitions of the past centuries. Maybe we barbers should test those assumptions analytically, through experimentation and a scientific method! Perhaps this scientific method could be extended to other fields of learning- the natural sciences, art, architecture, navigation! Perhaps I could lead the way to a new age! An age of rebirth! A renaissance! ...naahhh.

  • NOTES (8)