Al Franken writer-performer, 1975-1980; 1985-1995: I wrote a lot of the political sketches. I'm pretty proud of that body of work. This one was just dumb – but it was hilarious, because it involved spurting blood.
Walter Matthau was hosting the show, and Tom Davis and I wrote it for him. Around Thanksgiving, we were watching The Today Show or The Tomorrow Show or one of these shows. Julia Child did a kitchen segment, and she cut herself – kinda badly. And that was the idea for the sketch. You go, "Hmm. What if she bleeds to death?"
Walter Matthau didn't want to do it. Danny [Aykroyd] wanted to do it and we did it in dress and it worked really well except that the blood spurting wasn't working as well as we wanted it to. So we just said, "You know what? Let's hold this a week and really get that down." It's so rare that we did that
because anything that worked, you put it on.
When it finally aired, Tom was underneath the counter and he was working this thing that sprays insecticide so that Danny could release the pressure and this blood-looking substance would spurt. We were stuck for an ending and Tom said, "What if there's a prop phone on the set? And she goes like, 'Call 911!' " And so I said, "OK, that's brilliant." Thank you, Tom, for being brilliant. She picks it up, dials 911, and then she realizes it's a prop.
One of the things Danny was great at as an impressionist is really being three-dimensional. I've seen some people that are very good impressionists. They'll get someone's voice and even mannerisms but they won't become the person. Danny would do that. He did Nixon, he became Nixon. If he did Tom Snyder, he became Tom Snyder. You loved the character. He gave that person emotions and three dimensions and a likability.
There was nothing more thrilling than to be on live TV. [Watching that sketch] was like watching the Olympic gymnasts go through their uneven parallel bars thing. You go, "She's capable of getting the gold if she does her best. She needs a 9.9, and she's done that before." Then it's like, "Holy crap, she's hitting everything! Beautiful, beautiful. Great work. Good spurt. Oh, unbelievable timing between the spurt and the thing. Oh, oh – and he lands it! Wow! He got everything out of that you can possibly get out of it. Like, perfect."