Sunday, June 25, 2006

Eugene Levy's finest guitar work

While much of the show's pop culture references are now dated, SCTV featured arguably the most talented cast of comedians ever assembled on television: John Candy, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Joe Flaherty, Dave Thomas, Andrea Martin, Rick Moranis, Harold Ramis, Martin Short. Unfortunately, despite whatever good work they've done since and whatever success each cast member subsequently found, most of them never got a chance to perform at the same high level again once the series ended in 1984. Moranis, in fact, has dropped out of the movie business, except for occasional voiceover work, preferring to concentrate on raising his kids after being typecast in too many "nerd" roles. Among the rest of the cast's filmographies, O'Hara and Levy's turns in Christopher Guest movies come perhaps closest to capturing SCTV's satirical spirit, although Harold Ramis (who left the show fairly early in 1978) has had probably the biggest impact on American pop culture, thanks to his co-writing credits on the beloved slob epics Animal House and Caddyshack.

Shout Factory has released the show's NBC years on dvd, and volume 3 contains possibly my favorite sketch they ever did, which some kindly user has put up on YouTube here. It features Short, Levy, Flaherty, Martin and Candy paying a visit to "Mel's Rockpile," Levy's "American Bandstand" parody, as the Queen Haters, a British punk band with a rather single-minded lyrical bent. While the video quality isn't so great, you can still follow the lyrics via the bouncing ball. Aside from the fact that Martin Short fronting a punk band looks pretty much exactly as you'd expect, my favorite part of this clip is John Candy on drums: made up with a skullcap, looking like a member of the Damned, and staring vacantly ahead. A must-see!

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