Recurring Saturday Night Live characters and sketches introduced 1988–1989

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The following is a list of recurring Saturday Night Live characters and sketches introduced between October 8, 1988, and May 20, 1989, the fourteenth season of SNL.

Mr. Short-Term Memory[edit]

A series of three (to date) sketches - "The Blind Date", "The Hospital Visit", and "The Game Show" - featuring Tom Hanks as San Bernardino advertising exec Jeff Morrow...whose life (to say nothing of everybody else around him) hasn't been the same since a pear fell from a tree and hit him on the head. Now burdened by untreatable chronic amnesia, Jeff sows chaos and reaps alienation - some of it mutual - wherever he goes...since his recollection abilities (and his attention span) are not only very limited, but also highly erratic.

The series debuted October 8, 1988. All three episodes co-starred Victoria Jackson and Phil Hartman; the third also co-starred Tony Randall.

Celebrity Restaurant[edit]

A Dana Carvey sketch. Debuted December 3, 1988.

Plug Away with Harvey Fierstein[edit]

Jon Lovitz impersonates actor Harvey Fierstein, hosting a faux talk show.

Appearances
Season Episode Host Notes
14 December 10, 1988 Kevin Kline
14 February 11, 1989 Ted Danson
15 October 21, 1989 Kathleen Turner

Tony Trailer[edit]

A Kevin Nealon sketch. Debuted January 21, 1989.

Stuart Rankin, All Things Scottish[edit]

A Mike Myers sketch. This sketch featured Myers as the Scottish owner of a Scots-themed gift shop, who bellowed at his customers, "If it's not Scottish, it's crap!" This phrase went on to become a minor SNL-inspired catchphrase in the late 1980s. Debuted January 28, 1989.

Other characters in later skits included Tim Meadows as Rankin's employee Rodney, and Kiefer Sutherland as Ronnie Rankin, Stuart Rankin's brother.

Appearances
Season Episode Host Notes
14 January 28, 1989 Tony Danza Weekend Update
16 September 29, 1990 Kyle MacLachlan
17 November 2, 1991 Kiefer Sutherland
19 February 5, 1994 Patrick Stewart

Grumpy Old Man[edit]

Portrayed by Dana Carvey, he was an embittered archetypical grandfather figure with white hair, glasses, and a sour sneer. He would appear as a Weekend Update commentator complaining about the state of the world, mainly in regard to many modern conveniences. His complaints always included differences between today and "his day".

  • EXAMPLES
    • "In my day, we didn't have safety standards for toys. We got rusty nails and big bags of broken glass!"
    • "In my day, we entertained ourselves; we didn't need moving pictures! In my day, the only show in town was called 'Stare At the Sun'!"
    • "In my day, we didn't need waterbeds. You slept butt-naked on a huge pile of double-edged razor blades!"
    • "In my day, the number-one game in town was 'Chew the Bark Off the Tree'!"
    • "In my day, we didn't need facial wipes. When you turned 17, you were given the family handkerchief!"
    • "In my day, we didn't need dental floss or mouthwash. You picked your teeth with barbed wire and gargled with battery acid!"
    • "In my day, we didn't need bottled drinking water. You just drank raw sewage!"
    • "In my day, we didn't need virtual reality. You took a set of jumper cables and hooked yourself up to a half-zillion-volt electrical generator!"
    • "In my day, we didn't need ATMs. There was just one bank in each state, and it was open just one hour a year! That was the story of your life: You were born, you got in line, and you died!"

All of these rants would end with "And that's the way it was, and we (you) liked it! We (You) loved it!".

Debuted February 11, 1989 in a sketch with Jon Lovitz.

Appearances
Season Episode Host Notes
15 January 13, 1990 Ed O'Neill
15 February 24, 1990 Fred Savage
15 April 14, 1990 Corbin Bernsen
16 October 6, 1990 Susan Lucci
16 December 15, 1990 Dennis Quaid
17 February 22, 1992 Roseanne Arnold, Tom Arnold

Wayne's World[edit]

Mike Myers and Dana Carvey play two metalheads and best friends who hosted a cable access television program from Wayne's parents basement. Myers had previously played the character of Wayne on several Canadian television shows, and this sketch was the basis of a popular feature film released in 1992. Debuted February 18, 1989.

Appearances
Season Episode Host Notes
14 February 18, 1989 Leslie Nielsen
14 March 25, 1989 Mary Tyler Moore
14 May 13, 1989 Wayne Gretzky
15 September 30, 1989 Bruce Willis
15 December 2, 1989 John Goodman
15 January 13, 1990 Ed O'Neill
15 February 17, 1990 Tom Hanks
15 March 24, 1990 Debra Winger
15 May 19, 1990 Candice Bergen
16 December 1, 1990 John Goodman
16 January 19, 1991 Sting
16 March 23, 1991 Jeremy Irons
16 May 11, 1991 Delta Burke
17 September 28, 1991 Michael Jordan
17 January 18, 1992 Chevy Chase
17 April 11, 1992 Sharon Stone
18 December 5, 1992 Tom Arnold
19 November 20, 1993 Nicole Kidman
36 February 5, 2011 Dana Carvey

Cooking with the Anal Retentive Chef[edit]

This series of sketches featured Phil Hartman as Eugene, a fastidious[1] chef who could not bear to be in the presence of anything cluttered or dirty. After peeling some vegetables he advised throwing the peels away by wrapping them in paper toweling, then aluminum foil, then putting them in a paper bag that was then to be sealed with scotch tape. Gene never completed any of his recipes; he always became too distracted by the effects of his psychological complex, and ran out of time. The majority of these sketches featured the Eugene character as a chef, however, he also played an anal retentive sportsman and home improvement expert. The sketch was presented as a PBS program sponsored by the Chubb Group.

Appearances
Season Episode Host Notes
14 April 1, 1989 Mel Gibson
14 May 13, 1989 Wayne Gretzky "Fishing with the Anal Retentive Sportsman"
15 September 30, 1989 Bruce Willis "Home Improvement with the Anal Retentive Carpenter"
15 December 2, 1989 John Goodman
15 May 12, 1990 Andrew Dice Clay

Tales of Ribaldry[edit]

Tales of Ribaldry was a series of sketches starring Jon Lovitz as Regency era dandy Evelyn Quince, presenting supposedly "racy, randy, ribald!" tales, presented initially as "bodice rippers" which, to the host's clear and vocal dismay, develop into rather straightforward, "not very ribald at all!" sexual encounters between consenting adults.

Saturday Night Live later featured a one-time sketch called "Tales of Irony" which used a similar premise. Jason Alexander played the host who would become clearly agitated when the scenes developed into quite bland pieces with very little irony at all.

Appearances
Season Episode Host Notes
14 April 1, 1989 Mel Gibson
15 February 17, 1990 Tom Hanks

Sprockets[edit]

Mike Myers plays Dieter (no last name), a disaffected West German expressionist/minimalist. Debuted April 15, 1989.

Appearances
Season Episode Host Notes
14 April 15, 1989 Dolly Parton
14 May 20, 1989 Steve Martin
15 September 30, 1989 Bruce Willis
15 November 18, 1989 Woody Harrelson Dieter interviews the director of such independent films as The Dead Coat, Irritant #4, and Here, Child, Finish Your Nothing.
15 March 17, 1990 Rob Lowe Dieter's Dance Party (spoof of American Bandstand); features a German-language commercial for Clearasil - "Macht das pimplen kaput!"
16 September 29, 1990 Kyle MacLachlan Germany's Most Disturbing Home Videos (spoof of America's Funniest...), co-hosted by the star of Munich's long-running sitcom Who Are You To Accuse Me?
16 December 15, 1990 Dennis Quaid
16 April 13, 1991 Catherine O'Hara
17 February 15, 1992 Jason Priestly Love Werks
17 May 16, 1992 Woody Harrelson
19 November 20, 1993 Nicole Kidman das ist jeopärdy!
22 March 22, 1997 Mike Myers
Additional Appearances
  • Dieter in Space- December 16, 1989
  • Dieter's Dream- March 20, 1993

Lothar of the Hill People[edit]

A Mike Myers sketch (he played the title role of a prehistoric tribal chieftain) which also featured Jon Lovitz and Phil Hartman. The title sequence used footage from Conan the Barbarian. Debuted April 15, 1989.

Appearances
Season Episode Host Notes
14 April 15, 1989 Dolly Parton
15 November 11, 1989 Chris Evert
15 January 13, 1990 Ed O'Neill
15 February 24, 1990 Fred Savage

Toonces The Driving Cat[edit]

Dana Carvey and Victoria Jackson play a couple who allow their pet cat Toonces to drive their car; Toonces subsequently drives the car off a cliff. Debuted May 20, 1989.

Toonces was the family pet of Lyle (Steve Martin in the first sketch, thereafter by Dana Carvey) and Brenda Clark (Victoria Jackson), an enthusiastic couple who would allow their cat to drive the family car. At first, they were delighted that their cat had such an ability, but were always horrified to discover (too late) that Toonces was actually not a skilled driver at all. The running gag was the punch line: "See, I told you he could drive! Just not very well!" Inevitably, Toonces would drive the car over a cliff whenever he got behind the wheel. This sequence was characterized by someone in the car yelling "Toonces, look out!" with the Toonces puppet appearing to scream also, followed by the car falling off a cliff, and sometimes exploding (as shown in a series of stock footage scenes—sometimes the same one used multiple times within a sketch).

Toonces was portrayed by a live cat (for the title sequence and certain close-up driving scenes) and a puppet. The puppet was made up of three parts. The first part was a head and torso piece, which was a simplistic rendering of a grey-and-white striped short-haired tabby. The other two parts consisted of two separate paws, which were manipulated so as to simulate Toonces actually steering the car.

This sketch first appeared on the show that Steve Martin hosted when he broke Buck Henry's record for most hosting stints.

In 1992, NBC aired a half-hour Toonces special. Toonces, the Cat Who Could Drive a Car (1992) was a prime time special that aired on February 2, 1992. The special featured the first half of the first Toonces sketch and The Tooncinator, both from SNL plus one new Toonces sketch, Toonces Without A Cause; three short little pieces before commercial breaks to remind you it was a Toonces special: Toonces The Cat's World Of Nature, Toonces & Spunky Play Ping Pong, Toonces Mows The Lawn, and the end credits featuring Toonces Flies A Plane.

The special also featured a few new non-Toonces sketches.

  • Coach Dobbs in "The Big Game"
  • Scruffy The Rat
  • Abe Lincoln And His Time Machine
  • The Fugitive Couple
  • Zactu & Mondo From Way, Way Beyond-O in "A-door-able Martians"

The special was released on video as The Best Of Saturday Night Live: Toonces And Friends.

On the September 27, 2008, episode of Saturday Night Live, the stock footage of a car going over the cliff was reused in a different sketch. It was edited so that after going over the cliff, the film reversed, the car returned to the cliff top, and then exploded as it landed on the ground.

Sketches[edit]

  • May 20, 1989, host: Steve Martin — "Toonces, The Cat Who Could Drive A Car." Lyle and Brenda discover that Toonces can drive, just not very well. "I saw him up there fooling around at the steering wheel. I guess I just assumed he could drive." Later, they worry about Toonces' upcoming driver's test. "That written part is pretty hard." Kevin Nealon is the driving instructor, and off they go, but predictably, they end up going over a cliff.
  • December 2, 1989, host: John Goodman — "Toonces & Martians." Brenda and Lyle are out with Toonces when they are approached by Martians. Toonces escapes and drives into a nearby forest rangers building. He types out a message that his family is being held captive and persuades the rangers to get in the car with him. Over the cliff they go. After reaching the Martians, they all go for a ride in the friendly aliens' spaceship, with Toonces piloting. They crash into the Washington Monument.
  • February 10, 1990, host: Quincy Jones — Miss Daisy (Jan Hooks) complains to her chauffeur (Jones) about his driving. He quits on the spot, jumping out of the moving car and causing it to crash. As Daisy recuperates, her son (Phil Hartman) tells her that he got a new chauffeur, one that "wouldn't talk back". It's Toonces, and the usual resolution follows.
  • March 24, 1990, host: Debra Winger — "Urban Toonces." Toonces appears wearing a cowboy hat at the bar of Sis (Winger) and Bud (Carvey) and orders a drink. When asked for ID, he produces a suspended driver's license that indicates that he's only four years old. They reluctantly agree to serve him, figuring that Toonces would be 28 in human years, but only after checking to see that he has real money, fearing Toonces might attempt to pay with dead birds. Toonces later rides the bar's mechanical bull, garnering much acclaim. Bud and Sis ride home with Toonces, with Sis worried about letting Toonces drive after drinking. Bud is not worried at all, but as usual, they go over a cliff.
  • May 19, 1990, host: Candice Bergen — "Toonces vs. Spunky." Bergen and her cat, Spunky, are visiting the Clark household, watching home movies of Toonces crashing in various vacation spots (Niagara Falls, Grand Canyon), and even a clip of Toonces as a kitten, crashing a toy car over a small rock wall. Bergen informs everyone that Spunky has just finished driving school, and wants to give everyone a ride. Toonces takes Spunky's place by chloroforming Spunky and impersonating him.
  • November 17, 1990, host: Dennis Hopper — "Toonces' Dream." Toonces is dreaming that he's in charge of the Baby Chick Division. He nods when told he needs to transport some baby chicks unsupervised, and is praised by his family. He also talks in both English and French. The dream ends with the car suspended in mid-air, having just driven over a cliff.
  • November 16, 1991, host: Linda Hamilton — "The Tooncinator." Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and her son John (Edward Furlong) are trying to escape from the Terminator (Phil Hartman), but the Terminator has come to inform them about the robot cat Tooncinator, who can drive a car ("but not very well," Terminator amends). The Tooncinator arrives and is impervious to both car crashes and gun fire. Eventually Sarah stops the car over the terrified Terminator's objections, correctly deducing that Tooncinator just wants to be their kitty. The Tooncinator then accidentally drives them off a cliff.
  • February 2, 1992 (from the special): "Toonces the Cat's World of Nature." A parody of nature shows, ostensibly narrated by Toonces himself, in which the lizard is a "bad animal" because when you hit it with your paw, the tail breaks off and the lizard escapes.
  • February 2, 1992 (from the special): "Toonces Without a Cause." A parody of Rebel Without a Cause. Lyle & Brenda are portrayed as Leave it to Beaver-esque parents who are worried about Toonces' rebellious streak as of late, which includes playing bongo drums, stealing hubcaps, and being overly concerned about his hair, which is styled into a pompadour. Lyle is reluctant to talk to Toonces until he steals the family car (Lyle exclaims "He took the Dodge", though the car is really a 1950s Plymouth), to joyride with his human friends. As usual, the car crashes (the police says though that no one was hurt), and Toonces is arrested. Presumably, Toonces is bailed out of jail and thereafter his pompadour is cut off. Lyle is convinced that Toonces has learned his lesson and lets him take the family out for a drive. Unfortunately, another crash is inevitable.
  • February 2, 1992 (from the special): Toonces and Spunky (an orange tabby) are engaged in a spirited ping-pong match, as an amazed Lyle and Brenda look on.
  • February 2, 1992 (from the special): "Toonces Mows The Lawn"
  • February 2, 1992 (from the special): "Toonces Flies A Plane" A POV of a plane being flown badly while the end credits roll.
  • April 11, 1992, host: Sharon Stone — "Flippy, The Flipping Chihuahua." ("It's Flippy, the flippingest chihuahua you'll ever meet!") However, Flippy flips into the street and is run over by Toonces.
  • February 13, 1993, host: Alec BaldwinJane Pauley (Julia Sweeney) and Stone Phillips (Mike Myers) apologize for recent NBC mishaps, such as the Olympics Triplecast, letting David Letterman go to CBS, and a recent skit in which Mike Myers and Dana Carvey made fun of Chelsea Clinton. Stripped of their limousine privileges, they leave in a car service sedan, with Toonces behind the wheel. After crashing the car, Toonces meows the famous opening line (courtesy of subtitles) "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night," making Toonces quite possibly the only puppet ever to say the phrase.
  • April 17, 1993, host: Kirstie Alley — Isabelle (Kirstie Alley) and Penelope (Julia Sweeney) are riding in a horse-drawn carriage discussing their futures. But they are going too fast. It's not the regular driver! "It's Toonces! The Cat Who Could Drive a Horse-Drawn Carriage!" The whole group goes over a beautiful cliff.

References[edit]

  1. ^ [Jeff Smith (chef)]
Preceded by
Recurring Saturday Night Live characters and sketches introduced 1987-1988
Recurring Saturday Night Live characters and sketches (listed chronologically) Succeeded by
Recurring Saturday Night Live characters and sketches introduced 1989-1990