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A long time ago, in a late night weekend slot far, far away…there was an edgy, admittedly left-leaning, but brazenly un-PC show called Saturday Night Live. It was sometimes juvenile, sometimes prone to stereotypes, drug humor, and poor taste. But, by golly, it was a hoot.
There were hits and misses. There were a few skits I found pretty offensive (mind you my version of being offended is to quit watching and go on with my life until something better comes on). There were also countless “end of the show” pieces that you could tell were just tossed in there to pad out the time.
Yet the show was. overall, a creative practice in comic insanity, and that’s why we loved it. Today, with SNL joining the Cancel Culture Inquisition, I could easily add to the many articles out there on how humorless, politically flat and one-sided the show has become.
Instead, I want to remind people that “back in the day,” as the old comics say, Saturday Night Live used to be funny. Political correctness be damned. I’m not saying that comedy has to be potentially offensive to work. I love clean comedy. However, when you have to tip-toe around offending anyone for any reason, you are stifling that wonderfully silly and outrageous gene that turns the wheels of the comic mind.
Here are some examples of the days when Saturday Night Live was so incredibly un-PC, they would have cancelled themselves.
Steve Martin Performing "King Tut"
Steve Martin appeared on Saturday Night Live so often he was practically a regular, and is still one of the most brilliant minds in comedy today. This classic (see video at top) that helped launch him into stardom recently caused outrage when it was shown on a college campus.
On a deep level he’s poking fun at the commercialization of a historic artifact, but on another level, it’s just wild and crazy walking like an Egyptian.
Eddie Murphy’s “White Like Me”
I need to do an entire post on the comic genius of Eddie Murphy (maybe next week), and he found the silliness in all races (because we are all human and thus, ridiculous). For now I’ll remind you that it’s okay to poke fun at everyone, including uptight white folks.
John Belushi’s Samurai Futaba
I always felt this was Belushi poking fun at the over-the-top martial arts and ninja B-movies of the 1970s rather than at the Asian culture in general. What if this dramatic warrior was an optometrist or ran a deli? The possibilities are endless. His samurai was so popular, he got to perform on stage with Frank Zappa. I couldn't find the classic delicatessen sketch, but here he is running a hotel.
Il Cantore Restaurant
When you mesh the naivety of Americans just wanting to be accepting with the hyper-sexualized stereotype of some European cultures, you get to see a bunch of the SNL 90s cast members paw at Kirstie Alley with relish. They even get away with simulating a sex act on stage with hilarious results, but to me Rob Schneider and Adam Sandler perving in their skivvies steals it.
And, last but not least, one of the most un-PC and laugh out loud moments...
Andy Kaufman Wrestling Women
A video of which is unavailable due to “copyright” reasons. Yeah, that's why. Poor Andy, all he had to do was identify as a woman, and he would have been a hero. As it was, he was "voted" off the show.
Instead, I'll leave you with more than 10 minutes of the great Norm MacDonald’s O.J. zings that made him one of the show's other early victims of the cancel culture.