Sunday, June 29, 2008
Last night, in tribute to the late George Carlin, NBC aired the first-ever episode of NBC's Saturday Night, as it was known at the time. The show was quite dissimilar to what it would eventually become; Carlin didn't really do anything except come out to do a monologue three times. He didn't appear in any sketches.
As you probably know, Michael O'Donoghue appeared in the series' debut sketch, teaching immigrant John Belushi English phrases about feeding his fingertips to the wolverines. Indeed, O'Donoghue was the first person ever to appear onstage in the show. What I had never realized (or had forgotten) was that O'Donoghue (along with the long-forgotten George Coe, an older actor who never did anything but appear in commercial parodies) was listed onscreen as one of the Not Ready for Prime Time Players in that first show.
I don't think that lasted very long; O'Donoghue was also the head writer at that point, and his transgressive smugness was best suited to very limited doses - some would argue that they should have been even more limited than they were.