Saturday Night Live

10 Unforgettable  SNL Cold Opens. 

On October 11, 1975, a few minutes past 11:30 pm, Chevy Chase smiled into the camera and shouted, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!” In the 45 years since, the opening sketch—or “cold open,” as it’s come to be known—has defined the program through its highs and lows and ups and downs, cementing its place in entertainment history. The cold open gets its name from the idea that the audience is dropped “cold” into an in-progress story, sometimes with contextual clues or recognizable characters, sometimes not. Often the sketches are warped versions of recent news items,  or merciless send-ups of public figures, particularly presidents

During the show’s first season, the cold opens were the exclusive domain of Chase, who delighted in mocking Gerald Ford’s clumsiness. In the ensuing seasons, other members of the ensemble—along with the occasional guest host—were given the honor of uttering the program’s now-famous opening line. For the record, the first non-Chevy opening was given to John Belushi, who famously threatened to betray NBC’s trust unless the network gave in to a list of demands. The ransom idea was recycled from the old National Lampoon stage show and drove home the point that the L in SNL did indeed stand for Live—and that nothing was going to happen until Belushi said it could.  

Over the years, SNL’s most popular and elaborate cold opens were based on impersonations of actual people, from entertainers to politicians to regular people who had the bad luck to be in the news that week. And, as Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky and countless others can tell you, anything that smelled of scandal was most definitely fair game. Many of the older SNL cold opens can be difficult to find online. However, there are plenty out there to put a smile on your face. These are 10 of our favorites… 

1990 • Donald & Ivana 

Phil Hartman plays Donald Trump in a divorce settlement meeting with Ivana, played by Jan Hooks. Reviewing the details of their one-sided pre-nup agreement, he informs Ivana that she had unwittingly agreed to receive her $25 million alimony payment in the “giant stone coins of the Yap islanders” which he read about in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Then “The Donald” beats  her out of that in a double-or-nothing game of three- card Monte. 

1991 • Not Gonna Phone It In Tonight 

Steve Martin, remembering “when the show meant something, back when I used to care,” stars in a lavish musical number entitled “Not Going to Phone It In Tonight”—addressing criticism that he (along with other hosts and cast members) were guilty of giving less than their best at times. Everyone gets into the act, including Lorne Michaels. The performance concludes with Martin staring into the camera and saying, “Live from New York…” and then calling “Line?” It’s Martin at his best, and maybe SNL at its best, too.  

1998 • Bill, Monica,  Saddam & Tim 

Bill Clinton (Darryl Hammond), Monica Lewinsky (Molly Shannon) and Saddam Hussein (Will Ferrell) engage in a smart-silly party line call. The show had a lot of fun with the Lewinsky scandal, but adding the Iraqi despot to the mix as an SNL host wannabe was a stroke of genius. And who knew Saddam’s beret was a gift from Monica? Or that he could do a Jimmy Stewart impression? Tim Meadows pops in as a fourth wheel.  

2008 • The Katie Couric Interview  

Among the many Sarah Palin send-ups Tina Fey performed during the 2008 presidential campaign, the best was the recreation of Palin’s disastrous interview with Katie Couric, played by Amy Poehler. The biggest laughs were reserved for lines that were barely altered from the original CBS Q&A.  

2000 • Bush V. Gore 

The real-life Bush–Gore presidential debate didn’t do Al Gore any favors. He was dreadful. Darryl Hammond captures this performance perfectly—so much so that Gore’s staff actually made him watch it. On the other side of the aisle we get to meet Will Ferrell’s “Dubya” and learn a new word: Strategery. 

2010 • We Are the World 

Quincy Jones (Keenan Thompson) presents “We Are the World III”—a music video to raise awareness for the disaster that was “We Are the World II,” the well-intentioned but poorly executed fundraising project for Haitian earthquake victims. Jennifer Lopez plays Rihanna, leading the cast in hilarious send-ups of contemporary pop artists. Thompson’s Quincy closes the opening with: “Hmm…that was pretty bad, too.” 

2016 • Democratic Debate 

Larry David’s unforgettable debut as Bernie Sanders steals the show, but Kate McKinnon was never better as Hillary Clinton. Bernie’s rant about what’s wrong with banks—including chaining all their pens to the desks—is a classic. His best line: “I don’t have a Super PAC. I don’t even have a backpack.” Hers: “I think you’ll like the Hillary Clinton that my team has created for this debate.”  

2019 • The Cool Table 

Justin Trudeau (Jimmy Fallon), Emanuel Macron (Paul Rudd) and Boris Johnson (James Corden) are the bullies in the NATO cafeteria. Angela Merkel (Kate McKinnon) can’t believe she’s been invited to the cool table. President Trump is not so fortunate.   

2019 • Impeachment Talk 

It’s holiday season and we eavesdrop on three family dinners where politics are on the table…in a liberal home, a conservative home and an African-American home. The writing is brilliant and biting and uncomfortably close to the bone.  

2020 • Dr. Fauci on Zoom 

Brad Pitt, the actor Dr. Anthony Fauci joked that  he’d like to play him, plays him in the midst of the  COVID-19 crisis. After walking back some of the president’s confusing public statements as Fauci, Pitt removes his silver hairpiece and thanks the medical workers and first responders and their families for being on the front line. 

Editor’s Note: Did we miss your personal favorite SNL cold open? Go to the EDGE Facebook page and post a link. It’s a good time and place to share a laugh.

Mask Requirement

In the new normal of compulsory facial coverings, we tip our hat to those who’ve been rocking them all along. Here is our totally arbitrary, unscientific Top 25 favorite mask wearers…

Incognito

They wore a mask to protect their identities…

Dread Pirate Roberts 

Or Westley, handsome hero of The Princess Bride 

 

 

Sister Knight

Friend of EDGE Regina King got wrapped up in this Watchmen role. 

 

 

Bat Girl

Uh-oh. Don’t let Commissioner Gordon find out. 

 

 

Erik (aka Phantom of the Opera)

Lifted his mask for that famous first kiss. 

 

 

Spider-Man 

Do we think that’s an N95? 

 

 

 

Batman 

His cowl looks more uncomfortable with each new movie. 

Catwoman 

Never entirely house trained. 

Zorro 

You’d think the moustache would give him away, right? 

 

 

Green Hornet 

Crime-fighting editor? We can get behind that. 

 

 

Lone Ranger 

Fun Fact: His grand-nephew was the Green Hornet. 

 

 

Racer X 

Speed Racer’s brother, Rex. Rex Racer. Racer X. Hello? 

 

 

V (for Vendetta) 

Matrix bad guy Hugo Weaving played the anarchist in the Guy Fawkes disguise. 

Look Sharp 

They wore a mask to complete their ensembles…

El Santo 

Most famous of Mexico’s “luchador” masked wrestling champions, Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta starred in more than 50 movies! 

 

Captain America

Unclear why he needs the half-mask, especially on a humid day. 

 

 

The Phantom 

The guy lived on a remote island in a purple jumpsuit so clearly just bored. 

 

 

The Flash

Lightning bolts on the side are awesome. 

 

 

Green Lantern

Actually, not all Green Lanterns wore a mask so it was definitely a fashion choice. 

 

Hit Girl

Teenage comic book vigilante has become a go-to Halloween costume. 

Don’t Ask 

They wore a mask because, well, we just don’t know…

Stanley Ipkiss

The first guy to discover and wear The Mask, made famous by Jim Carrey in the 1994 Hollywood mega-hit.  

 

Jason Voorhees

The rampaging killer of teen scream slasher nightmares didn’t don his trademark hockey mask until Friday the 13th Part III, in 1982.  

Safety First 

They wore a mask because they had to…

Ironman 

No secret who’s inside. 

 

 

 

The Mandalorian

Helmeted star of Disney+ 

 

 

 

Hawkeye Pierce 

“I’ll heal their wounds, treat their wounds, bind their wounds, but I will not inflict their wounds.” 

 

Yogi Berra

Would his face have looked much different without one? 

 

 

Darth Vader

B-b-b-breathless!

 

 

 

Photo credits:

Pirate Roberts • Quantum Mechanix Sister Knight • Mark Hill HBO
Bat Girl • Upper Case Editorial
Spider Man • Marvel Comics
Batman Cat Woman • Topps Inc.
Zorro • Dell Comics

Green Hornet • Greenway Productions Inc. Lone Ranger • Dell Comics
Vendetta • Amazon.com
El Santo • Upper Case Editorial
The Phantom • Upper Case Editorial
The Flash • IMDB Comic-Con

Green Lantern • SkyBox International
The Mask • Upper Case Editorial
Ironman • Christopher Favero GeekTechLive Hawkeye • Donruss Inc.
Yogi Berra • Upper Case Editorial
Darth Vader • Jake Sloan Alaska Vader

House Money

More than ever, home is where the science is.

By Mark Stewart

The construction industry consumes more natural resources than any other industry in the United States. Domestically, it will generate over $1.2 trillion in 2018. The homebuilding sector this year will produce 1.2 million units—more than double the number in 2009, during the depths of the financial crisis. Worldwide, construction projects make up nearly 15 percent of human GDP. Over the next decade, builders will be focused on catching up to the demand for rental housing, with anticipated funding from government sources, while pulling back from retail projects as online shopping continues to eat into brick-and-mortar profits.

That’s a lot to absorb. So much so, in fact, that the facts and figures of the homebuilding industry have tended to obscure the quiet revolution that has been taking place— particularly at the higher end of the market—where a generation of scientific innovation is beginning to bear fruit for the rest of us humble homeowners. Over the next few years, breakthroughs in construction materials and techniques will trickle into the wider market and change the game for architects, builders, and consumers in exciting new ways. And save us all a lot of money.

Folks in the cement industry, for instance, will tell you that modern composites can now be engineered to have strengths rivaling steel and durability that, theoretically, could last for centuries—but which also can be fabricated to look like stone or other natural materials. These products are not only going to impact home exteriors, but are already showing up in interior concrete products, such as walls, floors and kitchen counters.

UNBREAKABLE

One of the more interesting developments in the science of cement is the elusive goal of creating a fracture-proof product. At some point, the weight a cement structure is asked to bear just overwhelms it and it begins to crack. (FYI, every building material has its “breaking point,” including steel). The primary challenge for ensuring fracture resistance is the structure of cement, in which everything in the mix sticks to everything else. That sounds good, but a structural engineer will tell you it’s not. It’s disorganized.

Last December, a team of German biomimeticists announced in Science Advances that they had found a way to reorganize the structure of cement to create fracture resistance at the “nano” level. Biomimetics is a branch of science that is unfamiliar to most of us; it studies and then “mimics” natural phenomenon in ways that can be employed in technical developments. In this case, researchers noticed something curious about sea urchin spines, which are made of an extremely brittle material called calcite. As anyone who’s had a barefoot encounter with a sea urchin knows, their spines are anything but fragile. So what’s going on, and how is that relevant to construction? The urchin’s secret is hidden at the molecular level, where nature has optimized the strength and durability of the spine material by layering it in a highly ordered way, with some molecules serving as a binding agent between the layers. Seashells and bones, the German team also found, often include this intriguing structure, which has evolved over hundreds of millions of years.

The outcome of their initial experiments would be astonishing to anyone who works in construction. The biomimetic cement they developed had a strength measured at 200 megapascals. Steel comes in at 250 megapascals. Care to guess what the number is for cement used in most home building projects? Five.

BYE-BYE BRICKS?

Perhaps one day in the near future, traditional brick-and-mortar may no longer be a thing. But the look of brick and mortar—at many times its strength and a fraction of its cost—is likely to be with us for a long time to come. Right now, in fact, an entirely new generation of insulating bricks has come online. The products offer the appearance of brick but are much thicker, with open spaces filled with insulating material (including polystyrene and perlite). They offer varying degrees of thermal conductivity and also have more construction strength than regular bricks. They essentially replace the insulation that needs to be blown or inserted into interior walls.

Earlier this year, EMPA (the Swiss federal science and technology lab) announced an entirely new material for insulating bricks: Aerogel. If this sounds like something you’d be more likely to find in a running shoe, well, you’re right. Aerogel is an ultra-light porous material that replaces the liquid one typically finds in a gel with a gas. Scientists call it “Frozen Smoke.” It’s actually been around since the 1930s, and recently was incorporated into another homebuilding material, insulating plaster, which has become popular among people renovating historic homes.

Used inside insulating brick, Aerogel’s insulating properties proved to be three times better than perlite bricks and eight times better than regular bricks. In other words, to achieve the same protection against heat and cold as you would using a foot of “Aero-bricks” you’d need to have an eight-foot-thick brick wall. The science is simple: 90% of Aerogel is comprised of stationary nano-bubbles, which prevent the transfer of energy through the movement of air molecules. As an added bonus, the material absorbs almost no moisture, is recyclable and non-combustible. Wow.

But wait. If you’re calling your contractor right now, put down the phone. Aerogel is hideously expensive in homebuilding quantities and won’t be available in insulating bricks for several more years. However, as with all good science, there are already folks working to up production, increase the economy of scale, and bring this product to market as rapidly as possible.

TRYING ON A ONE-PIECE

If a brick home seems too ordinary, you might want to make a little side trip on your next visit to San Francisco. Just outside the city, overlooking the Bay is America’s first composite house. The unique, ultramodern design was fabricated in nine layered fiberglass pieces that simply could not be built using traditional methods and materials. Manufactured by Kreysler & Associates, a leading-edge architectural composite company in California, the curved, two-story residence has been raising eyebrows and winning awards since it was completed in 2010. Company owner Bill Kreysler took on the project to demonstrate how composites could be mainstreamed into architectural design and construction.

The architects had initially designed a home that referenced the spectacular natural and geographic setting of the property and then spent a year trying to find a home builder who could handle it. No one was able to achieve their vision with traditional materials, so they turned to Kreysler. He scanned the small 1:30 3D model the architects had created and fed the data into a computer program that spit out a mathematical representation of the structure, which was then scaled up 30 times. Technically, the entire shell of the house could have been manufactured in a single piece and helicoptered into place. However, Kreysler could not obtain the permits required to fly it in (how cool would that have been?), so the home was split into nine pieces and trucked to the site—where it was bolted onto the foundation and then covered in a stucco material.

ALL THE HOME THAT’S FIT TO PRINT

What else is on the homebuilding horizon? Hold on to your hat. We’ve been following the progress of 3D printing in this magazine for many years, though primarily for its applications in the medical and lifestyle areas. Enter the wiz kids at MIT. In 2017, they announced that they were developing a system that would enable builders to 3D print the fundamental structure of an entire house faster and cheaper than traditional construction materials.

Think about that for a moment. Every home created this way would be a custom home, only without the custom price. Not only would it enable homebuilders (and homeowners) to achieve an architect’s creative vision down to the tiniest detail, it would create the potential to design homes that would conform to a home site, rather than vice versa.

Unconstrained by the rules of engineering that currently restrict how homes are constructed using standard methods and materials, a 3D printed home could open the door to entirely new kinds of living spaces. And these homes would go up fast. Indeed, a prototype of the system completed a 12-foot domed structure with a 50- foot diameter in just over 12 hours. It was made of foam-insulated concrete and conformed to all of the local building codes. The printer’s prototype, mounted on a tracked vehicle, employed a precision-motion industrial robotic arm, which controlled a construction nozzle (similar to the ones that spray insulation). Unlike traditional 3D printers, where the nozzle is locked into a set structure, the MIT printer was unencumbered and could print anything, anywhere.

That means a home could be constructed to address its specific environment. For instance, walls could have varying degrees of insulation or thickness based on which direction (e.g. north or south) they faced, or be tapered or curved to perform in windy environments. Wiring and plumbing could be pre-inserted into the forms the printer creates. Complex shapes and overhangs that would simply be too costly or too difficult to create with traditional building methods, could be produced from various materials with the push of a button. In a paper published in Science Robotics, the researchers pointed out that the construction industry hasn’t changed in hundreds of years: “Buildings are rectilinear, mostly built from single materials, put together with saws and nails.” Obviously, the scientific community is aiming to change this narrative.

The MIT crew is already working on a new design that will enable the machine to do basic site preparation before the printing begins. In other words, it will be self-sufficient. The result is that homes and buildings created with a 3D printer will be faster, less expensive and safer to produce  And they could conceivably be built anywhere…from Antarctica to the moon to Mars.

CONCRETE IDEAS

What are the concrete folks doing to keep up with their cement brethren? First, let’s understand the difference. Cement is a gray, flour-like powder made of multiple minerals that mixes with water to trigger a chemical process causing it to harden. It is a construction material as opposed to concrete, which is best thought of as a masonry material. Concrete uses cement to bind crushed rocks and stones with sand. The production of concrete, it’s worth noting, releases a huge amount of carbon into the air, which is not good for the environment

Just this past April, researchers in England announced that they had found a way to use graphene to make concrete stronger, more durable and, most importantly, greener. Graphene is a form of carbon notable for its single layer of carbon atoms, which is arranged in a hexagonal lattice pattern. It is almost transparent, yet it is also considered the strongest material in the world. Interestingly, it conducts electricity and can also be levitated by magnets. (Area 51 are you listening?)

Like the Germans with their sea urchin cement, the Brits nano-engineered this breakthrough. Engineers created a technique for introducing graphene atoms into the mix in a way that is low-cost and compatible with large-scale manufacturing that already exists. Which means we could be seeing this concrete product sooner than later. The benefits will hopefully outlast us all. Initial testing showed that the new graphene-reinforced mixture is twice as strong and four times as water-resistant compared to current products. It also reduces the amount of carbon-belching materials used in the production of concrete by about half.

GET SMART

Interested in cutting-edge home tools and accessories? Well, the future is now. These two products transform your smartphone into a next-level “power” tool

 

Bluetooth Padlock

Download the app and turn your smartphone into a digital key. Available at

masterlock.com.

 

Heat Seeking Camera

Identify insulating and wiring trouble spots with a camera that plugs into your smartphone. Available at flir.com.

You Probably Shouldn’t Be Applying to Medical School If…

 

…you ask your phlebotomist if he got

the whole phleb.

…you use DNA, DNR and DMV interchangeably.

…when your doctor asks you to “Fill this cup for me”

you can’t resist asking “From here?”

…when the same doctor finishes your colonoscopy she says,

“Bad news. I think you’re head’s still up there.”

…you have to spell-check MRI.

…there is no part of your body

you wouldn’t use to stop an elevator from closing.

…instead of doing chest compressions to

the beat of Stayin’ Alive, you do them

to Another One Bites the Dust.

…you stifle a laugh whenever someone says “dopamine.”

…your advice to someone who broke their leg in

three places is Wow, make sure not to go

back to those places.

…you named your dog MCAT.

…you consider Cyrus Virus

a pre-existing condition.

…“fecal-oral spread” makes you think of hors d’ouevres.

…after all these years, no one has ever laughed

when you tell someone they’re a “sight for

psoriasis.”

…you think Pepcid AC is a

South American soccer team.

…it can’t be important if it’s not on the midterm.

…“clinicals” sounds like something you’d scrape off a clinic.

 

Stand Up Guy

Room for Improvement: 2020 Edition

By Mike Marino

  • I will be nicer to strangers, but will make up for it by being meaner to my children. 
  • I will no longer “own” my lactose intolerance by doing unspeakable things in the dairy aisle. 
  • I will be better about taking my Lipitor now that I know “salami hands” is not an actual side effect. I must have misheard something in the commercial. 
  • I will stop pranking my father by substituting salt-free saltines for his Stella D’Oro cookies. I will stop pranking my mother by substituting Alexa for her blood pressure monitor.
  • I will start believing in love at first sight so I can stop obsessing over girls who won’t give me a second look. 
  • I will stop asking girls if they just saw my eye twitching. It’s not working as an ice-breaker. 
  • I will also stop using Ron Burgundy’s pick-up lines. They don’t work in the movies and they don’t work in real life. 
  • I will no longer leave small tips. My big tip for the year is that aged provolone is a horrible substitute for underarm deodorant. 
  • I will refrain from flirting with cocktail waitresses— unless they live within a 50-mile radius of the club. 
  • I will stop discussing my constipation issues with Vinnie, Nicky, Joey, Tony, Sallie and my mother—if they stop yelling “Can I buy a bowel?” whenever we all watch Wheel of Fortune. 
  • I will not drink anything stronger than wine for lunch. However, lunch will now start at 10:00 am. 
  • I will return all the crap I bought in the after-Christmas sales. I do not need a lawnmower. I don’t even have a lawn. 
  • I will not ask the nurse, “Are my tonsils out?” when I wake up from my next colonoscopy. 
  • I will stop asking people on the way out, “Do you need a colonoscopy…or do you just want one?” 
  • I will no longer steal the little soaps in my hotel bathroom. However, lightbulbs are still fair game. 
  • I will keep saying “at the hospital” instead of “at hospital” because I don’t want to sound like Tarzan. 
  • I will not waste money on a gym membership. Wandering aimlessly through the house at 3 am is just the right amount of exercise for me. 
  • I will stop telling other comics that I just signed a half-million dollar development deal with Netflix right before they go on stage—as soon as I get tired of watching the blood drain out of their faces. EDGE 
Editor’s Note: When Mike Marino isn’t touring, he can often be found working out of his folks’ house in Scotch Plains. For more about the Bad Boy of New Jersey Comedy—including upcoming club dates—visit him on the Web at MikeMarino.com.
Stand Up Guy: Mike Marino

The Musings of Mike Marino… Bad Boy of New Jersey Comedy

 

After watching the debates on TV, I’m now thinking of running for President of the United States. I would campaign on the slogan Make America Italian Again. The new

Pledge of Allegiance would be “I don’t know nothing. I don’t see nothing. I don’t say nothing.” If the other candidates attacked me on policy during a debate, my response would be, “Hey, let’s go to a break.” When the commercial was over the stage would be empty. My rebuttal would be, “I don’t know what happened. They’re gone now and there’s nothing you could do about it.”

 

If I were President I would never tweet. I’m an Italian- American and I don’t want anyone to know what I’m thinking. Also, no one would “follow” me. (I follow you.) I’d have to answer  questions from the press but I’d be sketchy on the details. If they asked me What just happened in North Korea? My answer would be, “Never mind. It’s gone now. There’s nothing you could do about it.”

 

My parents were big on discipline when I was a kid. But it looked a little different back then. Timeout, when we were kids, was a lot different than timeout today. Now you send kids to their room and make them think about what they did wrong. Timeout for me was how much time I was out after my mother punched me in the head. My father mostly threatened me. He was always saying he’d knock me into next week. I would say, “Good. I’ve got a test on Wednesday. Hit me hard.”

 

Remember how badly you wanted Slip n Slide as a kid? My dad refused to buy one for me. He made it instead. Hefty bags. Duct tape. Baby oil and a garden hose. You didn’t slip or slide—you took off like a rocket. And you didn’t stop until you hit a parked car. On rainy days, we played board games in my neighborhood like most kids, but with one exception. We never played Clue. Italians don’t play games called Clue. Can you imagine? “Who’s the murderer?” I don’t know. I didn’t see nothing. Short game.

 

My favorite toy was the talking GI Joe. Only when we played with GI Joe’s they were soldiers in a different “army.” They were part of an organized crime syndicate. I called mine GI Giovanni. He was the head of the fiveHasbro families. When you pulled his string, he would say “Woah, whoa, whoa. Whaddya think you’re doing? Don’t you ever touch my string!” His brother was GI Joey. And there was GI Nicky, GI Salvie, and Downtown Ronnie from Brooklyn. GI Giovanni dated Barbie. He would take her out to a really nice restaurant called the Easy Bake. It went out of business because every time the lightbulb died, the food would get cold. We made Ken the owner of The Dreamhouse, the nightclub where Barbie worked. Every once in a while, GI Giovanni had to straighten Ken out. One day, Ken turned up missing. Barbie asked GI Giovanni if he’d seen him. GI Giovanni told Barbie, “He’s gone now…and there’s nothing you could do about it.” 

 

Editor’s Note: Mike Marino will be appearing at NJPAC on October 12. Despite his blond hair and blue eyes, he insists he is Italian…and can prove it: He is 55 and still lives with his mom. “Why move out? The food is good and the rent is reasonable.” Visit his web site at mikemarino.net.