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Fridays
Format Sketch Comedy
Starring Mark Blankfield
Maryedith Burrell
Melanie Chartoff
Larry David
Rich Hall
Darrow Igus
Brandis Kemp
Bruce Mahler
Michael Richards
John Roarke
Narrated by Jack Burns
Country of origin  United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 58
Production
Running time 70/90 minutes
Production company(s) Moffitt-Lee Productions
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Original run April 11, 1980 – April 23, 1982

Fridays is the name of ABC's weekly late-night live comedy show, which aired on Friday nights from April 11, 1980 to April 23, 1982. The show was originally 70 minutes in its first season, but was expanded to 90 minutes in season two.

The program was ABC's attempt to duplicate the success of NBC's Saturday Night Live (especially since SNL was facing a decline in quality in the early 1980s following the departure of show creator Lorne Michaels and the remnants of his original cast). Like SNL, each week Fridays featured music acts and, in the second season, celebrity guest hosts, as well as fake newscasts and spoofs of television shows and commercials.

Contents

Differences between Fridays and SNL

The humor of the show differed from Saturday Night Live in as much as it included stronger drug humor (often depicting simulated drug usage/abuse as its basis for laughs, as seen in Mark Blankfield's "The Crazy Pharmacist" sketches, in the "Nat E. Dred, the Rasta Gourmet" sketches, and in a one-shot sketch in the first episode where a puppet snorts a line of cocaine while performing), stronger sex humor (often making references to bondage, premarital sex, and transvestism), stronger political satire, sketches that featured actual physical violence, and sketches that were more dramatic than comedic. Though it was critically panned when it premiered (around the time that SNL was finishing its fifth season), the show soon became more popular than SNL after the NBC show launched its disastrous sixth season in November 1980. Fridays actually began to lure away even SNL's most die-hard fans, as it improved comedically week after week as compared to the struggling Saturday Night Live '80.

Fridays did not have a guest host during its entire first season, though it did feature musical acts (very much like the FOX sketch show MADtv in its first three seasons) and celebrity cameos. During the second season the show began featuring guest hosts (the first was George Carlin, who had also hosted the first episode of SNL in 1975), but instead of guest hosts (as SNL style), they were credited as "guest stars" (much like MADtv [which, like Fridays, was a West Coast-based sketch show that aired as a rival to Saturday Night Live] would do years later). Brooke Shields was the youngest person to host Fridays in 1981, at the age of 16.

The selections of musical guests were more adventurous, as the show featured many punk rock and New Wave artists. The production values for musical segments were higher, using coloured concert style lighting, as opposed to SNL's flat white illumination.

Fridays writers

The people who wrote for Fridays are:

Friday Edition

In an attempt to make the show a direct competition to Saturday Night Live, they put together Friday Edition, as their version of SNL's Weekend Update. It starred Melanie Chartoff as the news anchor and the rest of the cast doing different news segments, like Update, to get SNL viewers to watch Fridays as an alternative.

Recurring sketches and characters

  • "Drugs 'R' Us" - "The Crazed Pharmacist"--Blankfield as a strung-out pharmacist who (sometimes accidentally) uses the products in his pharmacy to get high (drinking the liquid contents of a pregnancy test, taking strange pills that he thinks are aspirin, and sniffing glue that he mistakes for nasal decongestant) and thinks his weird customers (such as a post-op transsexual [played by Michael Richards] and twin midgets) are hallucinations caused by the drugs he takes. Catchphrases: "I can handle it!" and "Take a pill!" In one episode he was convinced he was stoked on the ingestion of cotton balls (CAH-tin bawls).
  • "Nat E. Dred" - Igus plays a Rastafarian chef who prepares—and smokes—food items heavily dosed with ganja. Catchphrase: "Is it turmeric? No no NO no, gimme ganja! Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!". Similar skits included "Rasta-Claus", where Nat E. Dredd plays Santa Claus.
  • "Battle Boy" - Richards as a hyperkinetic young boy who stages elaborate war scenarios in his backyard with toy soldiers (usually setting them on fire), mutilates his sister's (Melanie Chartoff) dolls, tortures the next door neighbor's son (played by Mark Blankfield), and gets yelled at by his lazy mother (Maryedith Burrell).
  • "Dick" - Richards as an overzealous ladies' man who makes a fool of himself while trying to impress women.
  • "Pitkinville, Montana" - Hall narrates footage of a fictional small town of tiny model people, usually at the mercy of household implements such as an electric hair dryer simulating a hurricane.
  • "Latin DJ" - Mahler fills time between records by reading radio commercials entirely in mock Spanish. Catchphrase: "La musica, la musica de los Talking Heads...", or other band; what followed was invariably Mariachi music.
  • "The Three Stooges" - Mahler, David and Roarke portray Moe, Larry and Curly as drug-addicted troublemakers. Reportedly these sketches were halted when Moe Howard's family threatened to sue.
  • "Live and Be Well (also known as Matzoi)" - Bruce Mahler and Larry David as two particularly earnest rabbis co-hosting a TV show. Mahler's "Rabbi Glickman" character on Seinfeld was a reprise of his character.
  • "Howdy Doody" - A running gag on Fridays was that Howdy Doody was such a huge star that he could always jump the line ahead of anyone at restaurants and nightclubs. This was first seen on a sketch where a man (Bruce Mahler) visits a plastic surgeon (Larry David) and tells him he wants to look like a celebrity. When Mahler's character is turned into Howdy Doody, he is given the best seats at restaurants, is let into clubs ahead of other people, and gets away with being obnoxious at parties.
  • "Pastor James Babbit" - Blankfield portrays a pulpit-bound preacher intending a meaningful sermon, but whose twisted perceptions and obvious repressed insecurities would lead to paranoid ranting and the divulgence of personal references of humiliation.
  • "Dancing Chickens" - Mahler would play piano accompaniment to a raw chicken stuck on his hand and wearing little black plastic shoes. The sketch always ended with the chicken in a pot of boiling water next to the piano.
  • "The Golden Boys" - David and Blankfield would play two egotistical, posturing wrestlers. Their catch phrase was "We're young, we're good looking and we'll be there!" (Coincidentally, SNL would come up with a similar recurring sketch in its twelfth season with Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon as musclemen Hans and Franz).
  • "The Brotherhood of Men Who Hum Between Words" - A monastic order with the odd habit of humming between every word. Later skits had brothers who only hummed between every third or fourth word, and at least one who refused to hum at all (he was considered to be Reformed).
  • "The Monster" - Sketch typically begins with two young women in a bar or night club talking to a staff member about the establishment's similarity to a setting of a popular film. The staffer tells the two women that the movie's main character was modeled after a regular customer of the bar. When this person arrives, it is Mark Blankfield as a Quasimodo type character, performing a parody of the dance or actions of the film character. The two disappointed young women say to the staffer "You didn't tell us he was a monster."

Memorable one-shot sketches

  • "Diner of the Living Dead"[1] - In this parody of the famed zombie films of George Romero, a married couple (played by John Roarke and Maryedith Burrell) visits a diner run by and catering to zombies. There is an assortment of macabre dishes based on human body parts advertised on the walls (such as "Elbow Soup," "Buttered Fingers," "Belly Burger," and "Hand Sandwiches") and zombies are seen eating human flesh and using a chainsaw to slaughter a living human (played by Mark Blankfield) who screams for help in the diner's kitchen. Because of the skit's depiction of extreme violence, gore and cannibalism, an apology was made on the following week's show by Melanie Chartoff (who played a zombie waitress in the sketch). The skit was so offensive that six ABC affiliates stopped airing Fridays. ABC affiliates that didn't pull the show from their schedule (and episodes that aired on the cable channel USA in reruns) merely re-aired the episode with the "Diner of the Living Dead" skit removed.
  • "The Ronny Horror Show"[2] - A sprawling 17-minute send-up of the incoming Reagan Administration based on The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In the sketch, Ronald Reagan (played by John Roarke in Dr. Frank N. Furter drag) plans on creating the ultimate Republican, but inadvertently creates an angry black militant (played by Darrow Igus) who kills Reagan and leads the people in a revolution. To this day many consider this sketch to have been the series' tour de force. Like "Diner of the Living Dead", this sketch was shown when it first came on and subsequently edited out in all reruns. Unlike "Diner of the Living Dead", "The Ronny Horror Show" was edited, not because of content, but because the producer of The Rocky Horror Picture Show protested against the film being parodied without his permission.
  • A rather dramatic sketch where Michael Richards plays a son who comes home to an old man in a wheelchair and the man denies that he's the father of the son. Thinking the old man hates him due to a generation gap (and the fact that the son has been away for a long time and had become a punk rocker), the son yells at his dad to accept him and love him, but when he compares his hair color to the old man's, he realizes that the old man really isn't his father and leaves.
  • William Shatner appeared in a sketch where he plays a man who reacts violently to minor pain. The man takes his date (played by Brandis Kemp) out to a dance club and while there, Kemp steps on Shatner's foot and Shatner reacts so violently that he tosses Kemp onto the ground, causing her skirt to fly up and her thong underwear to be shown. When this sketch reran, the brief shot of Brandis Kemp on the ground with her thong exposed was edited out.
  • "Zilla, Horrible Monster Of The Deep", in which a reptilian monster stalks out of the ocean, but being only the size of an ordinary man can do little besides trampling over children's sand castles and spilling the contents of women's purses onto the sand.
  • "Orgasmic Muffins", a clan of cave people bake muffins that taste so good, they give everyone orgasms.

Musical guests

Acts which appeared on Fridays include:

In another link to the world of rock music, Fridays was referenced in the song "TV Party" by the hardcore punk band Black Flag.

Guest stars

The guest stars (some of which hosted Saturday Night Live either before or after their Fridays appearance) include:

^ - have also hosted Saturday Night Live

The Andy Kaufman incident

On the February 20, 1981 episode, Andy Kaufman was the host. During a sketch about couples at dinner sneaking away to the bathroom to smoke marijuana, Kaufman, who was known for causing trouble on live TV, broke character and refused to read his lines (saying "I can't play stoned"). Michael Richards got up from the table, grabbed the cue cards and threw them down on the table in front of Kaufman, who responded by throwing a glass of water on Richards. Some of the show's cast and crew members became angry and a small brawl broke out on stage. Since the show was broadcast live, home viewers were able to see most of these events transpire until the network cut the cameras off. Kaufman returned the following week in a taped apology to home viewers. This incident was planned by Kaufman and meant as a prank. Kaufman concocted the event with Bob Zmuda. The only staff members aware of the plan were Richards, Melanie Chartoff and producer/announcer Jack Burns.[3] This incident was reenacted in the 1999 film Man on the Moon, starring Jim Carrey as Andy Kaufman, Bob Zmuda as Jack Burns, Norm Macdonald as Michael Richards and Caroline Rhea as Melanie Chartoff.

The end of Fridays

The series ended in 1982 following ABC's decision to expand Nightline to five nights a week, which moved Fridays to air at midnight instead of 11:30. Although by the end of its first season in 1981, Fridays was outperforming Saturday Night Live in the ratings, the later time slot hurt the show during its second season (which was also made worse by the fact that Saturday Night Live had rebounded [albeit slightly] thanks to a cast and crew overhaul). One final attempt was made by ABC to save the show by putting it on in prime time. The episode (broadcast on April 23, 1982) was scheduled against Dallas, which did nothing to help the show's moribund ratings. The series was promptly canceled.

DVD release and revival possibilities

No DVDs have been released yet from the series, reportedly because Richards is the only cast member who has the right to approve any home video releases from the series written into his contract. To date, he has not signed off on a DVD release, though some clips of Richards and Larry David on Fridays appear on the Seinfeld Season 3 and 5 DVD's.

Episodes of Fridays edited to a sixty minute length appeared in syndication and on the USA Network later in the 1980s, but the series has not been aired since then.

No reunion of the Fridays cast has ever occurred. The closest thing to a reunion to date was the 1998 series finale of Seinfeld in which Richards, Chartoff, Mahler and Burrell all appeared, and which was written by David.

References

External links








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