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WATCH: Steve Martin Hosted the Peak 1970s SNL Episode 43 Years Ago Today

  • On April 22, 1978, Steve Martin hosted what was arguably the best, most consistent Saturday Night Live episode ever. At the very least, it was peak 1970s SNL.

    Check out this murderer's row of iconic sketches from this one Season 3 episode:

    First of all, Paul Shaffer does the cold open to introduce the first-ever appearance of The Blues Brothers, Joliet Jake (John Belushi) and Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd) — not their proto-form during the Killer Bees days — performing "Hey Bartender." 

    Next, Martin, the most popular host in early-SNL history, delivers the monologue in the iconic white suit that symbolized his skyrocketing stand-up comedy career that would see him be the first-ever comedian to fill stadiums, and he closed by doing a parody of a magic act that involved pulling Bill Murray out of the audience and basically mauling him.

    Then, the traditional fake commercial stars Gilda Radner advertising "Hey You!" perfume, "for that special someone you never expect to see again."

    Then we get a recurrence of Martin and Aykroyd's Festrunk Brothers, the "wild and crazy guys" from Czechoslovakia who manage to successfully cruise for foxes in tight slacks, much to Garrett Morris's surprise. That catchphrase that was so popular Martin used it as the title of his second comedy album.

    After that, we get Theodoric of York: Medeival Barber, the classic sketch featuring Martin as a pre-doctor doctor committing atrocities against his patients in the guise of helping them. 

    Then, Martin and Radner perform a silly yet lovely wordless dance parody of Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse, a sketch which gained added resonance years later when Martin, who happened to be hosting SNL again on the day Radner died in 1989, replaced his monologue with it as a moving tribute.

    After a Weekend Update in which Jane Curtin and Aykroyd sparred over abortion, prompting a "Jane, you ignorant misguided slut" zinger, Martin debuted his new song "King Tut," as seen above, which would go on to actually hit #17 on the Billboard charts. That's how popular Martin and SNL were at the time.

    Belushi and Curtin then did a low-key freaky sketch about an older couple in bed admitting they have been cheating on each other in skeevy detail, only to find out that it's all foreplay, followed by a Gary Weis film choreographed by Toni Basil mixing ballet with Motown styles. 

    Then, after showing us a restuarant called "Troff 'n' Brew" where nobody uses their hands to eat or drink and Curtin and Morris get faces full of chili, we have Murray and Radner bringing out "The Nerds" Todd DiLaMuca and Lisa Loopner competing at the science fair with a 'dial-a-toast' contraption, and then the Blues Brothers return to close the show with "I Don't Know." 

    This is all in just one episode. Imagine if they'd thrown in a Coneheads or Roseanne Roseannadanna on top of all that.

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    Andy Hunsaker has a head full of sitcom gags and nerd-genre lore, and can be followed @AndyHunsaker if you're into that sort of thing.

    TOPICS: Saturday Night Live, NBC, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris, Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin, John Belushi, Laraine Newman, Paul Shaffer, Steve Martin