Sprockets (Saturday Night Live)
Sprockets was a recurring comedy sketch from the NBC television series Saturday Night Live, created by and starring comedian Mike Myers as a fictional West German television talk show. The sketch parodied German art culture in the 1980s.
The sketch parodied German stereotypes, especially those pertaining to German seriousness, efficiency, and precision. Originally created for the Toronto company of the Second City comedy troupe, Myers later ported the character to television for the Canadian sketch comedy show It's Only Rock & Roll and the American sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live.
Myers played "Dieter", a bored, disaffected West German expressionist and minimalist who interviewed celebrities in whom he was demonstrably barely interested, and then invariably sought to bring the discussion around to his "limited" monkey, Klaus, seated on a platform atop a miniature column. Myers has stated he based the character on a waiter he encountered, working at The Cameron House in Toronto, as well as German musician Klaus Nomi (after whom said monkey was named). Appearing effeminate (in his 1997 return as host Myers introduced his lover Helmut, played by Will Ferrell), Myers's "Dieter" costume consisted of black tights with a matching turtleneck sweater, round wire-rimmed glasses, and slicked-back hair.
On several occasions, the sketch featured a section titled Germany's Most Disturbing Home Videos. This showcased such scenes as an old man's head spinning around; a fat man, clad only in a diaper, cavorting in a lawn sprinkler; a man throwing up after being kicked in the genitals; the seemingly-lifeless body of a tramp whose face is covered with ants; and a man's trousers falling down in public, while he and his girlfriend are viewing an art gallery (the man is wearing a thong).
Recurring and memorable quotes from the sketches include:
- "You have disturbed me almost to the point of insanity...There. I am insane now."
- "Touch my monkey!" and "Liebe meine Abschminke!" ("Love my makeup remover!"—but it sounds like a plausible German word for monkey to English-only speakers), a recurring reference to Dieter's pet monkey, Klaus. Dieter told his guests that being allowed to touch Klaus was a privilege, but Klaus would often bite them when they tried to do so.
- "Your story (questions, setup) has become tiresome", whenever Dieter became - inevitably - bored with a guest.
- "I am as happy as a little girl", while pinching his shirt.
- "In your film Irritant #4, the only images were a baby's head and a toilet. Did you mean for me to scream?"
- "That film (poem) looks at me while I'm naked and calls its friends."
- "His agony was gorgeous...I need to be slapped."
- "I am filled with anticipation (remorse), and it is most delicious."
- "That poem (film) pulls down my pants and makes fun of me. But not in a mean-spirited way."
- "Your presence intimidates me to the point of humiliation. Would you care to strike me?"
- "Karl Heinz, you are beautiful and angular...and if you were a gas, you would be inert."
- "I feel emotionally obliterated."
- "Now is ze time on Sprockets vhen ve dance!" This was always uttered frantically at the end of the sketch...after which several Sprockets crew members, dressed identically to Dieter, joined him onstage and jerkily danced to techno music. (The techno music was another looped sample of "Electric Café", played at 45 rpm.)
Some later sketches featured Dieter outside of his talk show environment starring in parodies of game shows, TV dance parties, and art films.
List of SNL episodes featuring Dieter
All appearances were in the form of Sprockets shows, except where indicated.
- April 15, 1989 host: Dolly Parton (featuring Ben Stiller as Butch Patrick)
- May 20, 1989 host: Steve Martin
- September 30, 1989 host: Bruce Willis (featuring Dana Carvey as James Stewart)
- November 18, 1989 host: Woody Harrelson (featuring Harrelson as filmmaker Graus Grek, giving his plans for his new "EuroTrash" theme park)
- December 16, 1989 (in "Dieter In Space") host: Andie MacDowell
- March 17, 1990 (in "Dieter's Dance Party", a parody of American Bandstand) host: Rob Lowe
- September 29, 1990 (in "Germany's Most Disturbing Home Videos") (featuring Kyle MacLachlan as Karl-Heinz Shalke, the wacky neighbor in Munich TV's hit sit-com Who Are You to Accuse Me?)
- December 15, 1990 host: Dennis Quaid
- April 13, 1991 host: Catherine O'Hara
- February 15, 1992 (in "Love Werks") host: Jason Priestley
- May 16, 1992 host: Woody Harrelson (featuring Harrelson as filmmaker Gregor Voss...whose work includes The Dead Coat, Irritant #4, and Here, Child, Finish Your Nothing)
- March 20, 1993 (in "Dieter's Dream") host: Miranda Richardson
- November 20, 1993 (in "Das Ist Jeopardy!") host: Nicole Kidman
- March 22, 1997 (in "The Insane Academy Awards") host: Mike Myers
Cancelled film adaptation
The sketch was to be used as the basis for a feature-length film titled Dieter's Day, which was to be directed by production designer Bo Welch (of both Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands fame) in his directorial debut and to star Myers alongside Will Ferrell, David Hasselhoff and Jack Black, but the project was cancelled in June 2000 after Myers became dissatisfied with his own script. Less than a week after Myers informed Universal Pictures of his decision, the studio sued Myers for their $3.8 million spent in pre-production costs. One month later, Myers was hit with a second lawsuit, this time from Imagine Entertainment, which claimed that "He [Myers] claimed he had not approved the screenplay. Who wrote the screenplay--Myers," Imagine claims Myers backed out after it and Universal agreed to his demands for more pay and millions of dollars were spent in pre-production. "This was not the first time Myers engaged in such conduct," the suit contended. "He has followed a pattern and practice of breaking his promises, betraying the trust of others and causing serious damage to those with whom he deals through selfish, egomaniacal and irresponsible conduct." The Imagine lawsuit sought more than $30 million in actual damages plus punitive damages. Myers subsequently countersued both parties and both lawsuits were later settled out of court, whereupon Myers and Welch agreed to make another film with both Universal and Imagine as replacement for the Dieter film; that film became The Cat in the Hat, which was directed by Welch, released three years later in 2003 and starred Myers as the titular character.
- "Profiles of Mike Myers and Julia Roberts". CNN. 2002-08-03. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
- "Episode 518 - Mike Myers". WTF with Marc Maron. 2014-07-28. Retrieved 2014-07-31.
- "Sprockets 1989-04-15". Saturday Night Live Transcripts. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
- "Sprockets 1989-09-30". Saturday Night Live Transcripts. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
- "Sprockets 1990-09-29". Saturday Night Live Transcripts. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
- "Sprockets 1992-05-16". Saturday Night Live Transcripts. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
- "A Done Dieter". Entertainment Weekly. 2000-06-16. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
- "Myers Slapped With Second Lawsuit". ABC News. 2001-07-07.
- "Mike Myers to Countersue in Film Dispute", ABC News (July 7, 2001).
- "Myers, studio settle 'Dieter' lawsuit", Chicago Sun-Times (August 11, 2000).
- "Myers settles Dieter dispute". BBC News. BBC. August 11, 2000. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
- Cosgrove-Mather, Bootie (March 7, 2002). "The Cat In The Hat Is Phat". CBS News. CBS. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
- Evans, Bradford (October 9, 2013). "'Dieter': The Surprisingly Funny Mike Myers Movie That Never Was". Vulture. New York Media, LLC. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
- "Studios See Green in Less-Than-Worthy 'SNL' Film Spinoffs", Los Angeles Times (1999-10-01)
- "Spielberg to mediate in Dieter dispute", The Guardian (2000-06-16)
- "Chris Tucker: $25M for 'Rush Hour 3'", Fox News (2006-05-11)