Recurring Saturday Night Live characters and sketches introduced 1988–1989
- 1 Mr. Short-Term Memory
- 2 Celebrity Restaurant
- 3 Tony Trailer
- 4 Stuart Rankin, All Things Scottish
- 5 A Grumpy Old Man
- 6 Wayne's World
- 7 Cooking with the Anal Retentive Chef
- 8 Tales of Ribaldry
- 9 Sprockets
- 10 Lothar of the Hill People
- 11 Toonces The Driving Cat
- 12 References
Mr. Short-Term Memory
A Tom Hanks sketch. Debuted October 8, 1988.
A Dana Carvey sketch. Debuted December 3, 1988.
A Kevin Nealon sketch. Debuted January 21, 1989.
Stuart Rankin, All Things Scottish
A Mike Myers sketch. Also featuring Christopher Walken and Jon Lovitz. 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.
A Grumpy Old Man
Portrayed by Dana Carvey, he was an embittered archetypical grandfather figure with white hair, glasses, and a sour sneer. He would usually appear as a 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" ("In my day, we didn't have safety standards for toys. We got rusty nails and big bags of broken glass! And that's the way it was, and we liked it! We loved it!" or, "In my day we didn't have condoms; you just took a rabbit-skin, wrapped it around your privates, and tied it on with a bungee cord! And we used the same one, over and over again! And that's how it was, and you liked it! You loved it!"). Debuted February 11, 1989.
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.
Cooking with the Anal Retentive Chef
This series of sketches featured Phil Hartman as Eugene, a fastidious 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.
Episodes featuring the Anal Retentive Chef
- April 1, 1989 host: Mel Gibson
- May 13, 1989 in "Fishing with the Anal Retentive Sportsman" host: Wayne Gretzky
- September 30, 1989 in a sketch called "Home Improvement" host: Bruce Willis
- December 2, 1989 host: John Goodman
- May 12, 1990 host: Andrew Dice Clay
Tales of Ribaldry
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.
Episodes featuring Tales of Ribaldry
Mike Myers plays a disaffected West German expressionist and minimalist. Debuted April 15, 1989.
Lothar of the Hill People
A Mike Myers and Phil Hartman and Jon Lovitz sketch. Debuted April 15, 1989.
Toonces The Driving Cat
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.
- 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 Baldwin — Jane 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.
- [Jeff Smith (chef)]