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Live, from New York, It's Saturday Night!

snl.jpgSaturday night, when I was a young teenager, meant staying up late and watching Boo! Theater, a local show out of Fort Smith, Arkansas featuring a couple of station employees dressed up in monster garb showing Ed Wood classics. I think every TV station in America had something similar on Saturday nights.

But in 1975, NBC launched a live show, something that had been pretty much phased out by then. It consisted of a bunch of brilliant unknowns who called themselves the Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time-Players. These performers, most of whom had worked together in various projects beforehand, shocked the world with the most wildly funny 90 minutes television had ever seen.

The humor was irreverant, original, and EXTREMELY politically incorrect, years before the term even existed. It featured "commercials" which you weren't sure were genuine or not. The humor went into drugs, racism (the classic Chevy Chase interviewing Richard Pryor for a job wouldn't even be shown today), and other social taboos that made Hollywood execs cringe.

It was also the funniest thing television had ever seen. I remember watching that first season in awe, wondering "how did TV pull this off?"

Alas, the star burned too brightly. Chevy Chase left after the first season, and while the show has had many brilliant moments since, it never again reached a full season of maintained brilliance like it did in 1975.

I have learned in my research that Chase and the original crew didn't get along. That first year was a miracle. It should never have made it past a month. But it lasted an entire glorious year, and continues to be the standard by which I judge shows of its ilk.

Here's to pee-yer-pants funny Saturday nights in 1975-76.

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