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Chevy Chase's famous shtick

Chevy Chase’s famous shtick — The stunt that kicked off ”Saturday Night Live” episodes for nearly two seasons

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On Oct. 18, 1975, a long-haired, mustachioed Paul Simon set the mood for Saturday Night‘s second episode with a mellow rendition of ”Still Crazy After All These Years.” Then Chevy Chase, who had been hiding behind sunglasses and a guitar among the band, literally broke things up by hurling himself into a stool and two folding chairs set up behind the singer. Lying on the stage, he tore off his sunglasses and delivered what would become the familiar battle cry: ”Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”

Until Chase left the show midway through the second season, that shtick kicked off every SNL installment; it provided a cornerstone for Chase’s Gerald Ford impression, contributed to his back problems later in real life, and became as much a part of Saturday night as Saturday Night. ”Chevy used to fall all the time in the office and restaurants to make us laugh, so we decided to use it,” says SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels. ”He’d do it in little Italian restaurants, where it was pretty frightening. After he became famous, he couldn’t do it in public anymore.”

The rest of that Oct. 18 show was a lot less memorable. There were no sketches — just a Muppet segment, a film by Albert Brooks, and nearly a dozen songs by Simon, Randy Newman, Phoebe Snow, and Art Garfunkel. ”We had originally planned to fill every third show with music,” says Michaels. ”We thought we couldn’t possibly come up with 90 minutes’ worth of new comedy every week.”

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