Posts Tagged ‘John Belushi’

Willie Nelson and John Belushi, SNL

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Willie Nelson and John Belushi
photo: Stephanie Chernikowski
by: Paul Brownfield

“Got the boss coming!” a security worker shouted.

Lorne Michaels’s foot had hit curbside. It was around 1:30 a.m. outside Buddakan, the Asian-fusion restaurant in the meatpacking district and one of the semi-secret locales regularly used for the “Saturday Night Live” after-party.

“S.N.L.” is an institution of rituals, dating back to its first season in 1975-76: The show ends, the principals wave goodbye, and idling limos await outside 30 Rockefeller Plaza to whisk the cast and their guests to the after-party, the location of which is kept on a need-to-know basis.

On this night, after the Christmas show, Buddakan closed before midnight, or around the time the guest host Jimmy Fallon and the musical guest Justin Timberlake were reprising “The Barry Gibb Talk Show” sketch. By 1 a.m., two young men in suits took up their positions at Buddakan’s heavy door. As Mr. Michaels approached, one of them saw that his partner was in the appalling position of having his back turned to the show’s philosopher-king, and gave a prompt corrective shove.

Mr. Michaels’s entrance came amid the rapid-fire arrival of his cast. “I have six,” Taran Killam said as he entered. “They’re with cue cards, “ another guest said, legitimizing his escorts. One interloper tried the swept-in-with-the-crowd move, and was flagged by security, which nearly touched off fisticuffs behind Nasim Pedrad, still in pancake makeup.

In the confusion, a group of string musicians, all in cocktail dresses and toting their instruments, found themselves stranded. Not an hour ago, they had been live on national television providing string accompaniment on Mr. Timberlake’s performance of the bluesy ballad “Pair of Wings.” Now they were being asked to answer a question no one wants to hear in heaven: “Name?”

Even as Page Six and the like continue to report dutifully on the spirited mingling of Miley Cyrus or Lindsay Lohan, the truth is the “S.N.L.” after-party, now almost four decades into its run and much of that time with the reputation as the coolest party in town, has always been a little ersatz: a conception of an exclusive showbiz bacchanal based on the lore of the good old wild days, when the only thing that would break up this party was the coming of dawn or the depletion of the night’s supply of mind-altering substances.

The lore feels rooted in the drug habits of John Belushi and Chris Farley, both of whom proved to be a danger more to themselves than anyone’s cast party.

And the show itself, under Mr. Michaels’s long stewardship, is as much a fueling station now for other media — movies, talk shows, cable and web series — as it is an independent cultural product to which the improvisational aura of Chevy Chase, Mr. Belushi and Gilda Radner still clings.