'Saturday Night Live Presents Bob and Ray Meet Jane, Laraine & Gilda' was (as breathlessly announced by Don Pardo) the unwieldy title of a one-off special that was for all practical purposes a fairly typical third-season episode of 'Saturday Night Live'. SNL was pre-empted for one Saturday, so that this special could be broadcast in SNL's usual late-night slot. The show was staged in front of a live audience on SNL's soundstage at Rockefeller Centre, featuring SNL's house musicians and tech crew in their usual capacities. The male contingent of the Not Ready for Prime Time Players took the night off (except for announcer Pardo), leaving the stage clear for the three resident female performers: delicious Laraine Newman, underrated and underused Jane Curtin, and someone whose appeal utterly baffles me: the raucous and grossly untalented Gilda Radner.
The three ladies were joined by two guests whose comedic style was very much sympatico with SNL's home brand of humour: the veteran comedy team of Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding. Back in the 1950s, from a radio station in Massachusetts, Bob and Ray were doing the sort of anarchically skewed humour that 'Saturday Night Live' allegedly invented in the 1970s ... and doing it hilariously.
Assisted by the three SNL mesdames, Bob and Ray offered some of their typical (self-scripted) comedy routines. One sequence filmed in advance was an extended commercial for a shoelace-repair shop. Walking down the street, Ray discovers that his shoelaces are wearing out. He hies himself to the shoelace-repair shop, where Bob (wearing an eyeshade and a jeweller's loupe) carefully removes the laces from Ray's shoes, painstakingly restores them to mint condition, reinserts them in Ray's shoes (using special forceps) and sends Ray on his way happily ... all of this done with hilariously surrealistic narration. It doesn't sound funny as I'm describing it, but fans of Bob and Ray's humour will recognise how brilliant this skit is.
The funniest sequence in this special was a musical turn featuring the three SNL ladies in sexy punk-disco outfits, strutting across the stage while snarling the lyric to a well-known Rod Stewart song. Just when we expect them to sing the chorus, the camera cuts to Bob and Ray intoning: 'Do ya want my body? Do ya think I'm sexy?' The sight of these two old fat guys singing a Rod Stewart song is hilarious.
All in all, this is a well-produced special, which could also be considered an above-average episode of 'Saturday Night Live' for one of that programme's better seasons. Even Gilda Radner is less annoying than usual. As a Bob and Ray fan, it gives me pleasure to rate this showcase for their talents 10 points out of 10.
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