October 21, 1978
Saturday Night Live, NBC TV
Denny Walley—guitar, vocals
Tommy Mars—keyboards, vocals
Lew Del Gatto—alto sax
Lou Marini—tenor & soprano sax
Howard Johnson—baritone sax
John Belushi—Samurai Futaba on "Rollo"
Dan Aykroyd—Beldar Conehead
Jane Curtin—Prymaat Conehead
Laraine Newman—Connie Conehead
Bill Murray—Jerry Eldini
Paul Shaffer—Don Kirshner
Dan Aykroyd—Narrator; Jason
John Belushi—Windowpane Watson
This show includes the "Night On Freak Mountain" sketch, a Coneheads sketch where Frank is Connie Cone's date, plus performances of Dancin' Fool, The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing, and St. Alphonzo/Rollo.
Interesting note: both Patrick O'Hearn and Arthur Barrow were playing bass.
Try Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad's book "Saturday Night Live: A Backstage History." Frank Zappa ruined a Coneheads sketch because he broke character in the middle of the sketch and asked, live and on camera, if he was supposed to read the lines of the cue cards.
Was that the one where he merrily joined in with the "consuming mass quantities," opening all the beer cans in a six-pack before drinking from them, etc.? That was the single funniest moment for me in all of the Conehead sketches—and it was UNSCRIPTED?
I think the "mass quantities" part was scripted. What he wasn't supposed to say was (not a direct quote, but close) "so what, am I just supposed to read off those cue cards?" Also, there was a line where he plugs his album that had been cut but he went ahead and said the line anyway. The writers and performers were upset because he broke character and asked if he was supposed to read the cue cards. I have an interview with Zappa from a newspaper that I will be posting to my webpage soon. I can post a message when I have it on my page if anyone is interested, along with the passage from Hill and Weingrad's book.
Aykroyd: I remember one awful time, when Frank Zappa was one. We were doing the Coneheads scene, which Frank loved. We were all in position to do it when Frank, said, "What am I supposed to do? Read these cards?" It totally broke the reality; it was awful.
PH: Why did he do that?
Aykroyd: I don't know. Maybe he thought he was above the whole thing or he was nervous or he didn't like the script. Maybe he thought he was being funny. But in fact the audience sort of gasped.
It's a very difficult thing to do; they never make it easy on anyone who hosts the show. All the direction and attention goes to the sketches. They're not called skits—they become "incensed" if you call them skits—and it's all designed to accommodate the people who are regulars on the show, so anybody who goes on there to hosts is at a severe disadvantage. Because they never tell you what camera is on, and you're not supposed to memorize your script because they're rewriting right up to show time. And so you're looking at the cue cards, and unless you're used to acting live on TV, you haven't got a prayer; you'll be looking at the wrong camera. It was really hard.
And the other thing that happened was—and I didn't find out about it until the day after the show—that the first day I went there for the meetings with them they didn't like me and wanted to get rid of me. But no one said anything to my face while I was working on the thing. So they had written dialogue for me to say that I wouldn't normally say; they wouldn't let me write any of my own stuff.
I think I'd be a fantastic television personality. I think I'd be a real good interviewer if I had a talk show, or a variety show. I'd be really good at it. But just to get up there and be the dumbbell in "A Night On Freak Mountain" . . . I mean, sure, I'll do that for a laugh, but I'm not gonna build a life on it.
Additional informants: Jon Naurin, Brian Lagerman, Richard Kolke, HoodooMaintained by Román García Albertos