"Beatnik" (Plato's Cave)
Laraine Newman, cast member, 1975-1980: This was always an impossible question for me until I got a chance to watch the DVD collection of the first five years. There's a sketch written by Michael O'Donoghue that I knew as "Plato's Cave."
The setting is a beatnik coffee shop from the Fifties. Jane Curtin and Michael are on a date, and Michael is kind of Jane's tour guide, explaining the culture. This sketch was like a finely cut diamond. It's tight. Not a wasted word or trope. From Danny's Lord Buckley-style MC, Chevy's Spanish guitar player Juan Kutner, Garrett's blind Negro Jackson, Steve Martin's Beat poet Rodney, Belushi as a Lenny Bruce-style comedian who only gets laughs from the band – that's priceless – to me as a modern dancer/poet Isadora Schwartz and Gilda's sweet, victim-y waitress. It's so deeply funny. And how lucky we were to have Michael's National Lampoon poison pen.