An Hour with /SCTV/'s Rick Moranis Page 5

Not Ready for Prime Time

You also worked without an audience in the studio, so that played into what you were doing. You didn't have to do the Saturday Night Live kind of thing where you deal with audience reactions.Right. Which is why comparisons between the two shows are really not fair. That show has to be written in a finite amount of time and has to fit in with the amount of real estate they have on the stage they're working on. And they have to try and derive laughs from a live audience, which is really gonna affect the kind of material you do, the manner of performance, and the way you block out your stuff.

It really affects the way you write, the way you stage, the way you block, the way you perform, the way you edit. Everything is different in that kind of work. It's apples and oranges.

And we had the perhaps unfair advantage of not having to worry about what an audience was gonna think. We were in a vacuum. We were making little short films, really.

I've been to the 2-hour-long rehearsals of Saturday Night Live where they play it out in front of the audience and then go back and decide what makes the show and what gets cut just an hour later that night.There have been two things that have been driving the selection and placement of material on shows like Saturday Night Live. One is the reaction that you get in the dress rehearsal. And the other is the specific self-interests of the show and the producer. You know, it wasn't necessarily because something was good that it got front-placed - it had something to do with its recognition value, with the idea that the audience wanted to see recurring characters.

I'm not saying these weren't good sketches, I'm just saying there was a reason you kept seeing Church Lady and Wayne and Garth and stuff like that. We didn't have that operating for us until we got on NBC and they started suggesting to us that we might want to start developing recurring characters. It was the tail wagging the dog, which we never subscribed to.

Cuts Above

I liked that you didn't know who was going to be on week to week or even sketch to sketch since there was such a galaxy of SCTV "stars." You might even see a character in the audience of another show, like when you sat in as Guy Friday . . .I remember what that was. Robin Duke wrote a sketch where Dave played Phil Donahue [Episode 58; first aired October 24, 1980] . . .

It was an all-female audience.It was an all-female audience, and I had just finished taping Guy Friday, and I was still in makeup - and had quite the hair - and I said, "It would be hilarious if this guy was in the audience." And so she said, "Great; come on."

You couldn't do that on most shows.What I remember most about going over budget is that the pigs . . .

Carl and Fred Scutz.Right, Carl and Fred. And the very first Carl's Cuts [Episode 91; first aired November 6, 1981], which was this thing with me ranting about head cheese, was a real short bit I wrote one night at dinner in a restaurant in Edmonton. I was slated to tape it first up at 7 o'clock in the morning, and the makeup call was for 6:30. I couldn't sleep that night. I was just tossing and turning, and it occurred to me that I wanted to look like a pig. I went in. Bev Schechtman was in the makeup room at 6:30, and I asked her, "Can you make me look like a pig?" She said, "Let me look around and see if I can't find some pictures of pigs." And she went upstairs at ITV in Edmonton, looking through some books - in those days, you just couldn't go to a laptop and find a jpeg of a pig - and she found some pictures of pigs, taped them onto my chest, and started working.

Meantime, the studio was empty until 9:30. It took her about 2 1/2 hours to get that nose, soap out the eyebrows, get the pig makeup. And I taped from 9:30 to 10 o'clock, so basically it took 3 hours to get a 30-second bit. Now that would never happen in any tightly produced television show.

Now they'd have to get at least 5 minutes out of you to justify it.Exactly. Of course, the next time I did the character, there was a 2-hour makeup call. Now, was it worth it? I don't know.

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