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His Liz Taylor Impersonation Still Chokes Me Up
on December 19, 2005
I was a college student in the late 1970's, and back then, every dorm room and frat house on campus settled down at 11:30 on Saturday nights, so that everyone could gather 'round the tube to watch the original SNL. Man was that show funny, especially John Belushi.
This DVD does an admirable but insufficient job of conveying Belushi's comic genius. A few of the sketches, such as Cheeseburger, haven't withstood the test of time, and left me wondering why I thought he was so funny. But then he really shines on others, such as Samurai Night Fever, Godfather Vito Corleone in therapy, and his Joe Cocker rendition of "With A Little Help From My Friends," which is so dead-on that on one episode of SNL (NOT the version on this disc) Joe himself comes out on stage in the middle of Belushi's performance, to the astonishment of the audience who thought Joe was already the one performing. But the skit that still has me laughing out loud every time I see it is Belushi's impersonation of Elizabeth Taylor choking on chicken in the middle of an interview. I know it's morbid, but it's oddly sublime, and no other comic could have pulled it off. In fact, no other comic would have even attempted it, and that's what made Belushi one-of-a-kind.
The main reason I'm giving this DVD only four stars is because the run time is a scant 78 minutes, and surely the SNL archives hold enough Belushi gems that they could have put out two or three hours worth. Nevertheless, this is as close as you can get to seeing Belushi in his prime.