Saturday Night Live's "Refreshing Drop of Acid"
March 29, 2015 8:03 AM   Subscribe

One of the original Saturday Night Live's Not Ready for Prime-Time Players (can you name them all? Take the quiz here), Jane Curtin created characters such as Enid Loopner (mother to Gilda Radner's Lisa Loopner) and Pyrmaat the Conehead. She became Weekend Update's first female anchor after the departure of Chevy Chase in 1976, anchoring solo for Season 2 (making her the only woman to have anchored Weekend Update solo, to date). Although coming in a questionably low 47 on Rolling Stone's ranking of all 141 cast members, she is recognized for "bringing depth and gravity to sketches that might otherwise float away into trainwreck territory." Curtin has been vocal about the misogyny of the early SNL days, and the era itself - particularly the challenges of getting women-written sketches on the air.
posted by wheek wheek wheek (25 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
Ever since reading the stuff that came out around SNLs 25th (all those years ago), Jane Curtin has has the title of SNL Member I'd most like to sit across a dinner table from. Her experiences and deep vein of humanity always stick with me.
posted by DigDoug at 8:20 AM on March 29, 2015 [7 favorites]

Wow - that last link. I am amazed that Jane Curtain isn't more lionized (let alone more visible) this far into her career. She had two hit sitcoms after SNL, putting her on an incredibly short list of comedians. Her brief bit on the SNL 40th Reunion shows she still has the chops. I know the TL;DR answer is Hollywood misogyny, but damn, there's got to be more room on the screen for her now.
posted by Mchelly at 8:32 AM on March 29, 2015 [6 favorites]

I would glom on to a Jane Curtin Netflix series like nobody's business. She's always struck me as a class act, smart and super funny.
posted by the sobsister at 8:39 AM on March 29, 2015 [17 favorites]

FTA: Jane Curtain Reveals John Belushi Was a Total Sexist on 'SNL'

I am completely and utterly unsurprised to hear this revelation.
posted by surazal at 8:53 AM on March 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

Because I'm a child of the 80s, she'll always be Allie to me.
posted by lunasol at 8:56 AM on March 29, 2015 [13 favorites]

When they showed the three women at the Weekend Update anchor desk on the 40th anniversary special, plus Stefon, a tear came to my eye. The best of the best.
posted by Melismata at 9:52 AM on March 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

keep a low profile, hold in your stomach and be a good sport

My new mantra. Thanks for the post. SNL was a thing I only came across when I was older, as I live in the UK, so there are all these links to it that I never knew. Like, I loved "Kate & Allie" when I was much younger but I didn't have a clue that Jane Curtain had any connection with SNL until this minute.

(Btw - best username ever!)
posted by billiebee at 10:09 AM on March 29, 2015

In Abbott and Costello, Bud Abbott would get 60% of the earnings, and Lou Costello would get 40%. That's because Abbott was the straight man, and in Vaudeville, the straight man was considered the more valuable member of the team.

Jane Curtin was by far the best person in the role of straight man on SNL. She made made everyone around her funnier, and it's been something that's been consistently lacking in later SNL casts.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 10:12 AM on March 29, 2015 [13 favorites]

I'm just glad to hear she's still alive - - the wording of the OP gave me a good fright!
posted by fairmettle at 10:13 AM on March 29, 2015 [6 favorites]

"Refreshing Drop of Acid"

Do you have any Allman Brothers?
posted by The Tensor at 10:29 AM on March 29, 2015 [8 favorites]

Jane, you not at all ignorant and not an offensive word for a sexually active female.

(As I've said ad nauseum, the OC SNL was a huge influence on me. Jane and Gilda as Roseanne Roseannadanna were so precious.)
posted by NorthernLite at 10:36 AM on March 29, 2015

I'm just glad to hear she's still alive - - the wording of the OP gave me a good fright!

No kidding. I started skimming the FPP, and my mind immediately started screaming "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! NOT JANE!!!!!!!!!!!!"
posted by Thorzdad at 10:45 AM on March 29, 2015 [6 favorites]

I would glom on to a Jane Curtin Netflix series like nobody's business.

Start here: How to Beat the High Cost of Living. I always thought that film was underrated.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:59 AM on March 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

Jane is the bomb.

That is all.
posted by lhauser at 11:13 AM on March 29, 2015

charlie don't surf

Thanks for the tip. I'd not heard of it. And what a cast of TV pros: Eddie Albert, Dabney Coleman, Cathryn Damon, Fred Willard, Art Metrano... Looks like a winner; I'll check it out.
posted by the sobsister at 11:37 AM on March 29, 2015

I too, was afraid it was curtains for Jane when I saw this post. I too, knew her as Allie first.
posted by Renoroc at 12:29 PM on March 29, 2015

Jane, you ignorant slut. (NorthernLite tempted me too much.)
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 1:33 PM on March 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

Her consummate skill as straight-man (straight-person?*) were also fully utilized in the '90s as the 'token earthling' on 3rd Rock from the Sun. There aren't many "stars" with more than one or two "iconic roles" ; Jane has Weekend Update Anchor, Pyrmaat Conehead, Allie AND Dr. Albright.

* because there has always been a tendency to make a woman the 'straight-man' because "women can't be funny" (Big Lie #63); the much truer axiom is "Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels".
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:42 PM on March 29, 2015 [5 favorites]

Reading Live From New York, her account of things seems really negative and kind of at odds with everybody else, including other women who were there. Lariane Newman and the other female writers will say there was sexism and some bad weirdness but it was a magical, creative time, and then Curtin kind of shows up to crab some more about how everybody was drugged out and angry and awful. She talks a lot about how she went home to her husband while everybody else was staying up all night having their parties and dressing room makeouts and fights. Somebody who worked on the show years later tells a story of an (unidentified) original cast member who told her that working there would be a miserable experience because "that place is evil." It seemed like it had to be Curtin. The book makes Curtin seem really sour and un-fun, like an uptight yuppie who was running with the wrong crowd.

All that being said, that sourness made her really compelling on the show. When she went off on Emily Litella for wasting everybody's time, Curtin seemed genuinely pissed off. When she lost her patience with the Bag o' Glass guy she would hiss like a cobra, spraying venom. Her conviction gave everything an extra edge and danger. She treated these goofy characters like they were real, like the Bag o' Glass guy was some son of a bitch who was actually trying to sell bags of broken glass to children. She was like she was the lone voice of reason in an asylum, and when she really lost her patience with somebody you kind of held your breath.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:27 PM on March 29, 2015 [9 favorites]

Add me to the "thought Jane had died" club. My blood ran cold! Glad she is ok and thankful for this great post. Love me some Jane.
posted by pearlybob at 4:21 PM on March 29, 2015

All of 3rd Rock is on Netflix. It remains amazing.
posted by BrashTech at 4:59 PM on March 29, 2015

Jane Curtin i think was portrayed as the adult in that space, and she was both funnier, and less manic than anyone else there, and i think the dual nature of that push tightened the misogyny around her. She was less of one of the boys, like Radner was. (also the Librarian movies are kind of terrible, but her w/ Newhart is just beautiful).
posted by PinkMoose at 7:15 PM on March 29, 2015

Watching some early 3rd Rock episodes the other day, it sure seemed like she was giving her performance way more emotional subtlety than was strictly necessary in such a broad, goofy show. The plots mostly required her to complain about—and argue with—Dick and the other aliens, like some stock Gale Gordon sitcom character. And although she's really good at that, she remains sympathetic and endearing.
posted by Flexagon at 11:22 AM on March 30, 2015

Pyrmaat the Conehead

Aarrgghhh! Must fix!
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:31 PM on March 30, 2015

charlie don't surf: "Start here: How to Beat the High Cost of Living."

Starring Kate AND Allie!
posted by Chrysostom at 7:20 AM on April 8, 2015

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