Wednesday, December 16, 2009 12/16/09 - bees to blues brothers

In today's excerpt - because John Belushi of
Saturday Night Live hated the costume
he has
to wear to play one of his most popular
characters - a bee, the box-office phenomenon
The Blues Brothers are born. As
recounted by
Saturday Night Live musical director Paul

"Meanwhile, Belushi was complaining about his
bee costume.
Belushi hated putting on the bee costume. It
weighed a ton and
made him sweat like a hornet in heat.

"I hate these bee sketches," said Belushi.

"[Producer] Lorne [Michaels] loves them,"
said [Dan] Aykroyd.

"F**k Lorne," John exclaimed. "This is my
last one."

"Wait a minute," Danny interjected. "I've got
an idea. What
if we get the band to put on bee costumes,
and we all play Slim
Harpo's 'I'm a King Bee.' I'll play harp and
you'll sing the shit
out of it."

"How's it go?" asked John.

Danny started singing the lyrics.

"Let's do it," said John.

Next thing I know I'm running around the SNL
set in a bee
costume. I understand why Belushi rails
against this thing. It
stings. It disorients me to the point that
during rehearsal I wander into a Gilda
Radner/Garrett Morris sketch in my bee getup.

"What are you doing here?" asks Gilda.

"I don't know," I say.

Belushi is sensational as a buzzed-up blues
singer. In the middle
of the song, he does a full flip and lands
flat on his back. The
audience licks it up like honey.

Now Danny and John are warming up the SNL
audience as
two blues singers, not bees but two guys
dressed in dark hats,
dark ties, dark suits, and dark glasses.

"Why the dark suits and dark glasses?" I ask.

"I was hipped to the look by Fred Kaz," says
John, "the beatnik musical director at Second
City in Chicago. He's the cat who
told me that junkies always wore
straight-looking outfits so
they could pass. Check out William

Shortly thereafter, Lorne is featuring the
singing duo, not as
a warmup act, but as on-air performers. Not
only that, I get to
introduce them on camera in the guise of [my
character] Don Kirshner. I give it
the slowed-down, frozen-stiff, tanned,
gold-chained, full-nasal
Brooklyn brogue treatment of my show-biz
friend and say ...

"Today, thanks to the brilliant management of
Myron S.
Katz and the Katz Talent Agency, these two
talented performers
are no longer just a legitimate blues act.
But with careful shaping and the fabulous
production of Lee Solomon, who's a
gentleman, and his wonderful organization,
they have managed to
become a viable commercial product. So now,
let's hear it for
these two brothers from Joliet, Illinois.
Ladies and gentlemen, I
give you ..."

Paul Shaffer, We'll Be Here For The Rest
of Our Lives, Flying Dolphin Press,
Copyright 2009 by Paul Shaffer Enterprises,
Inc., pp. 176-177.


Blogger dogma said...

I can't remember how I came across Delancey Place—via A.Word.A.Day, perhaps?—but I'm so glad I did. I love it. I passed a couple of posts on to my husband, who now subscribes at work and has ordered several books as a result of Delancey Place excerpts. What a great idea! Thank you!

* By the way, I tried to leave this comment at and kept getting "Invalid validation code." I use Mac OS X; I tried with Safari and with Firefox. Please move this comment over there if you'd like to.

10:52 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home