Sunday, December 21, 2008

Item From the Past: Saturday Night Live, December 11, 1976

What's a day without a new fact, preferably obscure? Here's one. It's good to know that off in the cold reaches of the Asteroid Belt, 3834 Zappafrank quietly orbits the Sun.

My interest in Frank Zappa has waxed and waned at unpredictable intervals ever since there was a "Phi Zappa Krappa" poster on the wall of a bathroom that I often visited. It waxed briefly today when I watched the December 11, 1976, episode of Saturday Night Live, which is on the fourth disk of the Season 2 DVD set.

Zappa was the musical guest that night and did "I'm the Slime," "The Purple Lagoon," and "Peaches & Regalia." All very interesting, but not the reason I wanted to see that episode, and in particular see it before Christmas. I wanted to see the "Killer Christmas Trees" sketch, actually called "The Killer Trees."

I missed the entire episode when it was broadcast. I had a social life in those days, the beginnings of one anyway, and had other things to do. But I heard about it later; SNL was often discussed at school the Monday after, and people who'd seen it seemed most impressed by the Killer Christmas Trees. Later, the show was repeated, but I missed that too. In the days before VCRs, that was that. But what I'd heard about it -- Christmas trees sneaking up on people who were singing "O Tannenbaum" and spearing them to death with their branches -- stuck in my memory, vaguely. You never know what damn thing is going to stick in there.

Turns out the sketch was only OK, and not the best one of the show, at least according to my opinion 32 years later. "Let's Kill Gary Gilmore for Christmas," though intensely topical, was a lot funnier.

There's a little guy in Utah with a single Christmas wish
For one special thing that can't be substituted
Doesn't want to get electric trains, get toys or get pet fish
All he really wants to get is executed.

So let's kill Gary Gilmore for Christmas
Let's hang him from atop the Christmas tree
Let's give to him the only gift that money can't buy
Put poison in his egg nog, let him drink it, watch him die

Let's throw another yule log on the fire
And then let's throw Gary Gilmore on there too
With a ribbon so gay and a card that will say,
"Dear Gary, Merry Christmas to you"

Jane, Laraine, Gilda:
In the meadow, we can build a snowman
One with Gary Gilmore packed inside

John, Garrett, Dan:
We'll say, "Are you dead yet?" He'll say, "No, man"

But we'll wait out the frostbite till he dies

I've one Christmas wish

Jane, Laraine, John, Garrett, Dan:
Just ask it

Please put Gary in a casket

So let's toll the silver bells for him
While he can still hear what they say
Ding dong ding dong
You're dead, so long
We can thrill Gary Gilmore
If we kill Gary Gilmore
On this Christmas Day

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At 2:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dees - I recall the Gary Gilmore Skit very clearly. My sister and I sang the song alot. Male classmates at Pleasantville High got off on the Killer Trees, but I didn't really like it very much. But I haven't seen it since the original broadcast (My social life at that time was getting together with friends to watch SNL, so I did see it)

At 2:39 AM, Blogger joy said...

I have loved SNL since as long as I can remember, and though the show has had it's ups and downs, I must say that the current cast is phenomenal. Nobody can deny the impact that the show has had on popular culture. Had it not been for SNL, we wouldn't have kids going around yelling things like "Schwing!" or "Well isn't that special?" Catch all eps Download Saturday night live here...


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