In the last couple of days, people all over the
web keep muttering that they've seen that Escalator sketch from last
weekend's "Saturday Night Live" before. Discussion has ranged from it
having been an actual SNL skit from years earlier or even a ripoff of a
"Fridays" skit (the ABC late night show from the early 80s).
Here's one place you can see it, on the web site of an comedy troupe called Last Call Cleveland. You decide if SNL ripped them off or not.
A while back I plowed through the great book Live From New York, which is a collection of interviews with nearly all of the cast and crew of Saturday Night Live. One thing from the book that stuck in my head was how after the show airs live on the east coast, it is then edited and revised for the west coast airing and for future reruns. These revisions will include replacing material from the live telecast with footage from the dress rehearsal. This means that something that happens on the live show might never be seen again.
Now recently I've been recording SNL reruns on E! nonstop, in order to catch up on the shows I've missed in the last 10 years or so. I get to the Rob Lowe episode from 1996-1997 (infamous for Norm MacDonald accidentally dropping the "F" bomb during Weekend Update), which is a show that I also have the live version of on tape. So I decide to do a side by side comparison of each sketch to see what's different. Sure enough, there are trims, cuts and total replacements throughout the show.
The main change in that show between the live broadcast and the E! rerun is the Joe Pesci Show sketch. The entire opening, up until the first guest comes out, is entirely different... the rerun obviously using the dress rehearsal version. Then, the rerun completely cuts out Chris Kattan as David Spade, jumping straight to the introduction of Lowe impersonating Eric Roberts.
What's the point of all this? It's just annoying to think that if you miss the live broadcast of SNL, you may never see certain material again. It's also annoying to me, being the completist that I am, knowing that my DVD transfers of these shows now require twice as much work to put together the most complete version of the show possible. Even if NBC gets off their ass and starts putting SNL seasons out on DVD, you just know they won't include both versions of things.
I really wish they'd just drop the whole "live" thing and put the show to tape. That way you assure the audience the best product possible.