S.O.S.N.L: The Summer of Starmaker – An Introduction

When I started doing S.O.S.N.L last year, I had mentioned a number of factors that turned me into an SNL fan for 2/3rds of my life & counting…But the one factor I want to focus on this summer goes back once again to Christmas of 1994. At that point, I had only seen a few episodes of the show—in fact, some of them have gone down as some of the worst. Then, one Christmas morning, I got a present from my sister that (without any hyperbole or exaggeration) would alter my life profoundly. It was a VHS of an episode of SNL from 1984 that had Billy Crystal on as the host. From that one tape, When I began to save my allowance money instead of pissing it away on candy, I instead pissed it away on Tape after tape, after tape, after tape of the best of (what was then) the 20 year history of SNL. I want to say from 1994 until 2002 when I got my first DVD player & had no sense in how to save things I thought were “Valuable” at the time, The SNL Video Collection distributed by an upstart video company called “Starmaker” was—to paraphrase Emma Stone in “Zombieland”—the Direct connection to my Funny Bone. I didn’t own the Entire collection; but at its peak, my personal collection reached about 30 tapes until I had to sell them off at a local thrift store so that I could buy my first set of Community College Textbooks…possessions are fleeting, but the education in comedy I got from these possessions have lasted a lifetime—and this summer, it’s time to give this collection its long-overdue “Thank You” for shaping the “funny” part of my life.



This summer, a good chunk (If not ALL) of the sketches we’re going to cover will be derived from the Starmaker SNL VHS Collection. In an effort to not only pace ourselves, but also stretch this out as much as we can over the next 90 days, we will be covering ONE SKETCH PER EPISODE; and that’s important, because some of these tapes have just one episode, others have two, while others still have three. Further, I’m letting you know about this Now because (As I mentioned Previously), the show looks to be knocked off the air thanks to the impending Writer’s Strike. So since the show looks to be ending its season early this year, UPDATE: 5/2/2017: There WON’T be a Strike after all thanks to a new 3-year deal, but I’m STILL Taking the Month off. It gives me an ample opportunity to stockpile on the sketches I will be discussing later this summer.



We will begin by covering the “Annual” videos that span the years 1975 to 1994; these are the ones that will either have 3 episodes, or (depending on how “Recent” they are) one “Best of” show—However, in the case of the “Best Of” shows, because they are single episodes we will look at only One sketch from that One Episode.



After the annual’s, we will take a look at “Host” tapes; these tapes contain two episodes of the show hosted by the same person; and feature people like Tom Hanks, Robin Williams, Steve Martin, and others I’m blanking on at the moment. What’s interesting about some of these shows is that a few of them appear in the “Annuals”, but because there are two shows on the “Host” tapes, they actually add more of the episode—so for that benefit, I will try not to do the same sketches twice (I should also note that I did not own the ENTIRE Collection growing up, rather about 85% of it, so in some cases I have to dig a little for some research).



Then, we get to the “Special Editions”—Tapes that are either Special compilations involving certain sketches (I.e. the “Wayne’s World” tape), one-off specials (Toonces & Friends and the 15th Anniversary Special), sketch Compilations (Mr. Bill & the “Schiller’s Reel” collection), single-episode tapes (I.e. Billy Crystal, Jerry Seinfeld, Michael Jordan et. al), or “Best Of Cast Member” compilations that were originally made by Warner Brothers Home Video, but then Starmaker acquired the rights. Of this group of tapes, there IS the original “SNL Goes Commercial” special; however, I am once again saving that for the halfway point of the summer, and it will also be my ONLY venture into “current” sketches this year—depending on how much of this we get through.



Finally, we will return to the first 5 years of the show by looking at the “Classic Years” tapes—these tapes contain “Best of” shows that aired either on NBC in Primetime in the 1979-1980 season, or ones that aired in Syndication under the name “The Best of Saturday Night”. There are two shows on each tape, and there were only Five volumes of it, so that means 10 episodes/sketches. So, to recap, here’s what the TENTATIVE schedule looks like:



FIRST: The Annuals (1975-1994)—The 1975-1982 & 1985 tapes have 3 shows on them, all the rest (‘83, ’84 & ‘86-‘94) are single “Best of” shows; 35 sketches total from this collection.


SECOND: The “Host” tapes – To my knowledge, there SHOULD be a total of 12 of these meaning 24 Sketches from this collection—But I have to Double Check (or some of you guys out there can correct me if I’m wrong). AFAIK, The Following People appear in the “Host” collection:

Alec Baldwin
Roseanne Barr
Candice Bergen
Chevy Chase
Danny DeVito
John Goodman
Elliott Gould

Tom Hanks
Buck Henry
Lily Tomlin
Steve Martin
Eddie Murphy
Robin Williams


PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF I MISSED ANYTHING (I can’t stress this enough, I really want this to be a thorough listing, and my memory isn’t what it used to be…even in my early 30s)


THIRD: Halfway point, which means another set of Commercial parodies; same way as before, One Live & One Filmed per day for every 5 years the show has been on (16 commercials over an 8 day period). It will also mark possibly the ONLY time I will cover any “Current” sketches this summer.


FOURTH: The “Classic Years” tapes; 5 volumes, 10 sketches


FIFTH: The “Special” tapes; again, I have to double check. But from what I know, there will be At Least 14 of these—one sketch per tape, except for “Wayne’s World”, where there are 3 shows–so, 3 sketches.




So if my math and my research is correct, That brings the total to about 99 sketches in 90 days….or at least, that’s the basic plan, a number of things can change, or I wound up with a college degree I didn’t deserve because I suck at math. Once again, I can’t stress enough that if I missed a tape in between, or if anybody has a list of All the tapes Starmaker ever made, it would be a great help to me out a little. We begin a little earlier this year; June 19th, and we will continue to put up a sketch each day until September 22nd. Also, I know what you’re thinking, isn’t that a few days too many? Don’t worry, I did have a Special Surprise week planned sometime in August—depending on if the Writers are Still on Strike by then or not—that has nothing to do with Starmaker, but is ALSO long overdue to do. Also, I almost forgot to mention that because this is very much a MASSIVE undertaking, we will be putting all SNL related Editorials on Hiatus for the summer—Not only do I want to make sure I cover everything, but I also want to get back to writing “Normal” blogs for a change. At the same time, I don’t want This to over/undershadow the sketches I’ve already written about in the past year; so when the time comes to start it up, I will be giving the Starmaker sketches its own separate section that’s similar to the one I’ve been doing so far–think of this as an “Annex” to the original page.


So with that, enjoy what we’ve got the next few months starting 6/19; and if we’re going to spend the Entire Summer looking at a bunch of sketches distributed by a VHS company that sort of no longer exists, we might as well start things off right with a Nostalgia Grenade…press play to begin…



I’ve got some sketches to write about, I’ll See ‘ya in June!


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