To those who watched the Saturday Night Live 40 special last night and felt you only got a smattering of John Belushi, this is for you. And for anyone who likes history and comedy.
Several years ago, I was overjoyed to track down the audio tape of one of the classic sketches in the history of Chicago's legendary comedy club, Second City, And calling something a "classic sketch" from Second City is saying a LOT, considering who has performed there over the decades.
One of those in the early '70s was John Belushi. He was in a good company that included Harold Ramis and Joe Flaherty of SCTV, among others. But Belushi, not surprisingly, leapt out. You always heard about John Belushi. And it was sketch in particular that people kept bringing up -- the Funeral Sketch. It was where Belushi's high school kid character and his mother great mourners at the funeral of his father who died when...well, we'll hold that thought, but let's just say a less than noble way. Belushi doesn't have a lot of dialogue in the sketch, but his controlled-rage reaction at such a somber occasion is what made the piece so memorable. (I didn't see it with John, but did see the sketch done later with his younger brother Jim in the role.)
Tracking down that audio was a comic joy, and I couldn't believe my luck.
But it turns out that that was nothing. Because I have here a video of the sketch! Yes, John Belushi on stage at Second City in the "Funeral Sketch."
And it includes Harold Ramis and Joe Flaherty, among several other other the great cast members who remain wildly-popular in Chicago comedy lore.
Here's the write-up from the Second City site --
"This week's clip comes from Second City's 1972 revue 43rd Parallel or McCabre & Ms. Miller directed by the theater's legendary improv guru Del Close. In the above sketch "Funeral," John Belushi plays the humiliated son of a father who died a less-than-respectable death alongside ensemble performers Joe Flaherty, Harold Ramis, Jim Fisher, Judy Morgan, and Eugenie Ross-Leming as his grieving friends and family."
The video quality isn't great, and you'll have to strain to catch some of the jokes and dialogue, but...well, really, so what. That this exists is amazing.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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