Recurring Saturday Night Live characters and sketches introduced 1980–1981
Vickie & Debbie
What's It All About
A Gilbert Gottfried and Denny Dillon sketch. Debuted November 15, 1980.
A Joe Piscopo sketch. Debuted December 6, 1980.
Raheem Abdul Muhammed
An Eddie Murphy sketch. Debuted December 6, 1980.
A Denny Dillon sketch. Debuted December 6, 1980.
Nadine and Rowena
A Denny Dillon and Gail Matthius sketch. Debuted December 13, 1980.
A Charles Rocket and Gail Matthius sketch. Debuted January 17, 1981.
Mister Robinson's Neighborhood
Mister Robinson's Neighborhood was a parody of the children's show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, a PBS staple where new information about the world was presented by Fred Rogers in a quiet, methodical, loving, and highly elocuted manner. In the sketch, Eddie Murphy's character "Mister Robinson" speaks and presents the show in a similarly stilted manner, but lives in a considerably grittier venue and engages in a number of illegal and unethical activities for money due to his lack of a job, which he educates his young viewers about in each episode while at the same time teaching them cynical views on the government and life in general. For example, in one episode he tells his viewers that their hopes and dreams are pointless because its impossible to find a job in the current economy and another episode contains a Neighborhood of Make-Believe segment in which a puppet Ronald Reagan (who Robinson consistently blames for his lack of a job and dire financial situation) tells all the neighborhood's hand puppets that he can't do anything to help them out of poverty in a very dismissing manner. Subsequently, he has slumlords hunting him down for rent and police after him for a number of petty crimes; a majority of episodes end with Robinson fleeing his apartment through the fire escape while singing a variant of Rogers' famous song "Tomorrow".
Rogers took no offense to the parody. On the contrary, he found it amusing and affectionate. The parody was also initially broadcast at a time of night when his own child audience was not likely to see it.
Incidentally, the first installment of "Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood" where Mr. Robinson gets a package from a drug dealer named "Mr. Speedy" (played by Gilbert Gottfried in a parody of Mr. McFeely), was overshadowed by the "Who Shot Charles Rocket" recurring gag that ran through the episode and the controversy over Rocket saying, "I'd like to know who the fuck did it" during the goodnights. The book, "Saturday Night Live: The First 20 Years" has a still shot from the episode of Eddie Murphy as Mr. Robinson pointing to a sign that reads, "Bitch."
I Married A Monkey
The I Married A Monkey sketches were created by Tim Kazurinsky to remind the viewing public that the show was indeed live. He essentially played himself, working with the premise that he had married a chimpanzee named Madge in a bizarre soap opera world. There was a real chimp on stage, and some sketches featured their "children" played by baby chimps.
Kazurinsky felt that the show had become too polished, and felt that the idea would offer some unpredictability. He explained in Live From New York, "I did it because I knew something would screw up and people would see that it was live. People would ask me 'When do you tape the show?' No, it's called Saturday Night Live. It's live." He eventually decided to put a stop to the sketches when he realized the dangers chimpanzees posed when they got agitated.
Episodes Featuring I Married A Monkey
- April 11, 1981
- November 14, 1981
- February 6, 1982
- May 22, 1982
- March 19, 1983
- January 28, 1984