The First SNL Film: Mr. Mike’s Mondo Video

Mr. Mike’s Mondo Video is a film from 1979 written/directed by and hosted by Michael O’Donoghue. O’Donoghue was a writer and a featured player during Saturday Night Live’s first seasons and this flick features appearances by many of the original Not Ready for Primetime Players including Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Gilda Radner.

The film is a satire that is loosely hung on the original Mondo Cane travelogue film that sought to shock viewers by displaying bizarre human customs from around the world. After a lengthy warning, a bizarre title sequence and an extended intro that features a mini-documentary about a cat swimming class Amsterdam, Mr. Mike’s zany ride really starts rolling. The film’s Wiki page points out some of the oddest bits:

The film is largely plotless; a series of vignettes linked together by interstitial pieces featuring Mr. Mike discussing how upsetting and odd the sequences were. He introduces some of the pieces via voice-over, and some open with no introduction.
Sequences include:

Aykroyd displaying his webbed toes which he prodded with a screwdriver to prove they were not make-up.
A church that worships Jack Lord as the one true god (also featuring Dan Aykroyd.)
A French restaurant that prides itself on how poorly it treats American patrons.
“Dream Sequence”, a series of surreal film pieces bracketed by large light-up signs reading “Dream Sequence” and “End Dream Sequence” that tracked towards and away from the camera. One of these was merely performance footage of Klaus Nomi, while another featured home movie footage shot by Emily Prager intercut with stop-motion animation.

If you are an SNL nut, you’ll love this. If you’re not into the show, watch Mr. Mike’s flick for the Sid Vicious cameo and for Laserbra 2000.

Mr. Mike’s was made in 1979, beating out the The Blues Brothers by a year and qualifying it as the first SNL film spin-off. The flick is really silly – of course – but it demonstrates how much of the original SNL’s surrealistic edge was owed to O’Donoghue.

Stay Awake!

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  • echar

    thank you :)

  • http://joenolan.com/blog Joe Nolan

    You’re welcome! Enjoy. I knew this would be full of wackiness, but I found myself breaking into laughter throughout. Mr. Mike is so deadpan and bleak.

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