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Desi's SNL Appearance (AV Club)


Brock
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The AV Club has posted a wonderful review/analysis of Desi's appearance on the first season of SNL interestingly contrasted with Milton Berle's appearance a few years later. It's a fascinating read, but here's an excerpt:

 

The Desi Arnaz episode is SNL’s purest sustained expression of the its sheepish but heartfelt love of old TV. After the cold opening, Arnaz comes out and acknowledges the adulation of cheering studio audience. (“Oh, aren’t you nice. God bless you.”) He claims, improbably, that SNL is “one of my favorite shows,” talks about how much fun the past week has been, and then he says how much he likes the special cigars the cast gave him as a present: “I had never heard of the brand before: Acapulco Gold!” (“And as soon as I pass it around, we’ll be right back.”) Desi does dope humor! When Milton Berle hosted three years later, he seemed like a has-been comedian whose inability to bend with the times was embarrassing. Arnaz, with his leathery skin and white hair, looks both magisterial and ravaged: A survivor, to invoke the 1970s’ most overused term of praise. He mugs more than he did when he was younger, or maybe, with his older features, it’s just more noticeable: Grinning and glowering and popping his eyes, he can be a bit of a gargoyle. And, like Berle, there’s something of a show business dinosaur about him. But there’s something undeniably impressive about seeing a living, breathing dinosaur, especially one who’s making an honest effort to adapt to your strange new ways.

 

The differences between the Arnaz and Berle shows say a lot about the differences between Arnaz and Berle. But they also say something about how much better SNL was, in the early years, at setting a frame around its hosts that helped define the audience’s reaction to them; Berle had the great misfortune to stink up the stage with his Puerto Rican jokes at a time when a dud host offered those of us in the peanut gallery an opportunity to chatter about how the show itself had grown stale and out-of-touch. Arnaz isn’t just a rich old ham who’s agreed to spend a week in New York hanging out with his son—Desi, Jr. appears in several sketches, sometimes playing his dad when he was younger, which given the distance between them in terms of charisma, is a stretch—and making fun of his old TV shows because he has a book to promote. He’s the first great TV performer-businessman, the man who turned his marriage into a hit show and his wife into a star, who invented the multiple-camera sitcom and the rerun. He’s been alive forever, and he held up the very first cue card. (At one point, when my wife, who’s a registered nurse, walked through the room, I asked her to look at what I was watching and guesstimate Desi’s age. She reckoned he was about 70, then asked to take it back—75, 76 maybe. Desi, who died of lung cancer at 69, was a month shy of his fifty-ninth birthday. Nicotine, too, is a hell of a drug.)

 

Full article, completely worth the read, here: http://www.avclub.co...rnaz-jr,101855/

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Joyce, there are lots of the old SNL shows available on DVD. If you look on A mazon you can probably find out specific info for each year. :desi1:   :)

 

 

Editing to add: I just went & searched for you :) . Desi was a guest during the 1975-1976 Season, which was Season One. The very first SNL episode aired on 10-11-76. Desi's episode aired 2-1-76. It could not have aired on 2-1-75 because the show did not exist then.

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  • 3 months later...

Well, I heard or read that Lorne Michaels, in his infinite wisdom, cut short the song because he was afraid it would kill Desi,  But Desi showed the same energy performing it as he had thirty or more years earlier.

 

See it all those years later, I was surprised how much gusto, relish and enthusiasm Desi put into that number. He was great throughout the entire installment and it was clear that many cast members were beside themselves with excitement.

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