I had never seen the 1975 SNL debut, so when NBC decided to re-run it as part of the show's 40th anniversary, I decided to check it out. Maybe it was me, but I have to admit I found it dull, plodding, ponderous, and hardly funny. Yeah, it was the debut show and like anything, it took awhile for the show to find its groove. About all I can say is Lorne Michaels and company were lucky to not get cancelled after their first show
George Carlin was the host. Carlin can be funny in an unpredictable, grumpy man way. Assuming this 1975 segment represented him at his prime; well he wasn't particularly funny, or endearing. He seemed nervous, unsure of himself, and you could see him quickly shifting gears to a series of dumb one liner rants that did little to win the affection of the audience. Here's a segment of his monologue:
Two musical guests - Billy Preston's 'Nothing from Nothing' was actually pretty good. Preston and his band were enthusiastic and turned in a version of the tune that stuck close to the studio version, but demonstrated some of the man's charm.
Janice Ian - I can only guess she was selected as the second act for her laugh-a-minute, party girl image. Yeah, 'At 17', her ponderous, navel gazing slice of self-hatred was going to make any crowd get up and dance, or at least look for a sharp object to plunge through their eyeballs. Forget the need to invent a Debbie Downer character when you had this segment in the can.
The actors themselves made little impression. They seemed uncertain, unsteady, or in the case of guest Andy Kaufman, plain weird. I don't care how many times tell me Kaufman's Mighty Mouse segment was comedic genius, it was just plain scary.
Even though he didn't get all that much spotlight time, the lone exception was Jim Belushi. You could just tell he had that "it" factor. The comedy skits themselves were almost uniformly boring. Really the only one that made me snicker was the end-of-show bee-fathers.
If you're always wanted to check SNL out, don't start with this episode ..