Thursday, February 7, 2008

Calvinist Disco Revival

Let's take a small break from the Most Important Election Ever In Our Lifetimes, More Important Than The 1932 German National Election And You Know What Happened Then and watch more "Fridays" found on YouTube.

I'm merely here to amuse and entertain.

I mentioned this episode before -- the William Shatner show from September 25, 1981. A decent installment, though the following has been edited down to just Shatner's sketches. This was before Shatner became the conscious self-parody he embraced in his later years, and before Shatner impressions rivaled comic takes on Jack Nicholson. In the opening there are cameos by head writer Jack Burns, and "Fridays" producer John Moffitt, who was Lorne Michaels' first choice to direct the original "SNL," which Moffitt turned down. Like Lorne on "SNL," Moffitt was a regular presence on "Fridays," playing the harried producer trying to hold together his chaotic show. (Moffitt later directed many episodes of "Mr. Show," on which I don't think he appeared.) Whoever posted these clips stopped just as the closing credits began to run, so you don't get to see what the writers looked like. Suffice it to say, they wouldn't be welcome in today's clean-cut comedy writer world. The weed scent coming off their jeans and Army jackets alone would brand them. Another time . . .

Also note the PATCO bit in the second clip. This was during that infamous strike, just before Ronald Reagan ended it by firing the PATCO workers, while simultaneously praising the Solidarity strikers in Poland. (A bipartisan stance, as the New York Times and Washington Post followed Reagan's lead.) A little peek at that wonderful period when, as Obama reminds us, Reagan made Americans feel better about themselves -- at least those who had jobs.

And speaking of another time, here's a very funny and accurate parody of Rich Little by Dana Carvey. You have to be a certain age to appreciate this, since Little today is referred to as often as Fred Travalena or Frank Gorshin. But trust me, this is how Little's holiday specials looked. Not that satirizing Rich Little is all that important, but there'll be plenty of importance to wrestle with in due course.