View Full Version : Placenta Helper on SNL
02-08-2000, 08:48 PM
Dude, you are the greatest font of wisdom the world has ever known. With that out of the way I'd like to point out that in your third book, Return of The Straight Dope, you mention a script sent to you by one David English of Somerville, Massachusetts of a supposedly censored SNL skit surrounding the consumption of human placenta. I say supposedly censored because as I read it, it is meant to imply a skit that was never aired. This is not so. Though I do not wish to be accused of starting another urban legend along the same lines as, "That'd be up the butt, Bob," I can do no less than announce that I have seen the skit in question during a regular airing of the show. Typically I've no idea where or when it was, but that it was many years ago (also typical I realize, but nonetheless true.)
MODERATOR COMMENT: Please be aware this thread is from Feb 2000, until Post #17 revives it in Jan 2014.
The column is http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a3_104.html
Do you remember the actors in the skit? The copy of the script that Cecil received probably came from pages 60 and 61 of the book Saturday Night Live, edited by Anne Beatts and John Head (ISBN 0-380-01801-2). Both pages are Xed out in red, indicating that the sketch was cut, and page 60 is stamped "CENSORED". Might you have read it there? The skit isn't listed in the Commercial Parodies section of Saturday Night Live: The First Twenty Years (ISBN 0-395-70895-8), nor is it mentioned in Saturday Night by Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad (ISBN 0-688-05099-9). And I've never seen it on the show.
This isn't to say that the skit never aired. It was written by Al Franken and Tom Davis (F&D), who initally worked for SNL from 1975 through 1980, then started working for the show again in 1985. One of the skits they wrote, The Planet of the Enormous Hooters, was cut from the Raquel Welch show in 1976. It eventually aired in 1989, when Dolly Parton hosted. F&D could have dusted off the Placenta Helper sketch for a later show.
You might ask someone at NBC or Broadway Video if and when the Placenta Helper commercial parody ever aired on SNL.
"You can observe a lot just by watching." -- Yogi Berra
02-09-2000, 08:22 AM
I've seen the placenta helper skit, I don't know when it aired. I've never heard the story that it was censored, so I don't know how I would remember it if it didn't air.
I thought of that skit a few nights ago when HBO ran a show that featured adult TV fare from around the world. The one segment that really grossed me out was a placenta eating party that aired originally on an English cooking show. The "dish" looked really gross and slimy, if vegetarians go for that they can have it. I'd rather eat tripe.
02-09-2000, 09:01 AM
I certainly haven't read it anywhere as I've never read the script for any SNL skit. Gilda Radner was definitely in it. I think Chevy Chase was also in it also.
I've sent an e-mail to Mr. Sean the proprietor of "The Most Visited Unofficial 'SNL' Site On the Net." The official site has no contact info.
02-09-2000, 01:08 PM
That's a darn good link.
Dan Aykroyd kills me and Gilda was such a goof wasn't she.Playboy: Can you think of any battles you've won?
Michaels: The show, for one. Aside from that, there have only been a few pieces that've been shot down. Take "Placenta Helper," for example. In terms of taste, would I sit in a room and write "Placenta Helper?" No. Would Franken and Davis? Of course. They wrote it, I read it, and I thought it was funny. But the major censorship that I do simply involves whether or not it works well for the particular host who has to do the sketch. Karen Black wanted to do Placenta Helper", so the question was, do I fight for it? ...
02-10-2000, 12:24 AM
Here's a link to an interview where they discuss the issue. http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Lot/2976/pbsnl_3.html
Since it is mentioned as a fight that was won with the censors, and Karen Black is mentioned as the host, it appears it aired.
As I remember it, the new parents were concerned that there wasn't going to be enough placenta to go around, thus the placenta helper. It's been many years though so I wouldn't swear to it in a court of law. Up the butt Bob, maybe, but not placenta helper.
Karen Black hosted SNL on October 16, 1976, and January 17, 1981. I've yet to see either epsisode. If the skit aired, chances are that it was on the earlier show. Has anyone taped it?
The sketch was written for Gilda, Laraine Newman, and John Belushi. Karen Black and/or Chevy Chase could have been substituted, though IIRC, Chevy injured himself taking the fall in the first show of the '76 season, and didn't perform much for about the next month. His last show as a regular cast member was October 30, 1976.
Agreed, Gilda and Dan, along with John Belushi, were arguably the most talented actors in the original cast.
As I remember it, the new parents were concerned that there wasn't going to be enough placenta to go around, thus the placenta helper
Here are a few lines from the script (bear in mind, these often changed between read-through and the live show):
LARAINE: ...By the way, are you planning to eat the placenta?
GILDA: You're kidding! You mean the afterbirth?
LARAINE: That's right. Many mammals eat their own placenta. It's nutritious, it's 100 percent natural, and now that you're going to have a family, you've got to watch your food budget more than ever. And there's no cheaper meat than placenta.
GILDA: But is there enough placenta to make a complete meal for my husband and myself?
LARAINE: Not if your husband has a hearty appetite like mine. And that's why you need Placenta Helper.
02-10-2000, 08:20 AM
John, you da man.
I remembered Gilda and Chevy, but somehow couldn't shake the idea that Laraine was part of the sketch as well.
02-10-2000, 08:59 AM
Has anyone ever actually eaten placenta? Does it taste like chicken? Maybe liver?
"Domino's can I help you?"<p>"Yes, I'd like a medium one-topping with half pepperoni and half placenta."
inertia: Has anyone ever actually eaten placenta? Does it taste like chicken? Maybe liver?
My wife and I are expecting in March.
I remembered hearing about some group that solicited new parents to give/sell them their babies' placentas, so that they could eat it. I wondered if ours would be salable. But I doubt my wife would go for it.
What would Brian Boitano do / If he was here right now /
He'd make a plan and he'd follow through / That's what Brian Boitano would do.
02-10-2000, 02:23 PM
[Homer Simpson]Mmmmmm...Human Placenta![/Homer Simpson]
Looking again at the Hill/Weingrad book, it's possible that the Placenta Helper sketch was censored weeks, perhaps months, before it actually aired (and again, does anyone have a tape of the show in question?). Initially, Jay Ottley was assigned by NBC to be SNL's Standards editor (censor). While he rejected scripts that would probably get him fired if they aired, he was generally receptive to the show's humor, and allowed far more material than he stopped. During April of SNL's first season, Ottley was replaced by Jane Crowley. The book describes Crowley as "almost a caricature of what a censor should be". She rejected far more material than she passed, which generated hostility between the show and the network. F&D would often taunt her by writing some lines they knew couldn't get on tv, and when she rejected them, they'd offer even more outrageous substitutes.
It's possible, then, that Crowley rejected the Placenta Helper sketch, it was left dormant for a while, and when Karen Black wanted to do it, Lorne Michaels went up the network's chain of command until he got approval.
Someone might write to Lorne Michaels, Al Franken, Tom Davis, or Anne Beatts, and ask for a history of the sketch's gestation.
"If you're so pro-life, do me a favor: don't block medical clinics, lock arms and block cemeteries." -- Bill Hicks (http://www.billhicks.com/darktimes/index.html)
02-12-2000, 02:07 PM
I also saw this skit on SNL.
Jill, do you remember the date, the host, and the actors in the skit? More and more, this reads like something I want to see, just for the audience reaction.
02-16-2000, 12:04 AM
I hear that soy- based placenta can be as nutritious and disgusting as the real thing. Personally I want the goods. Regarding placenta and canibalism together for a sec., there is NOTHING people won't eat to survive.
01-17-2014, 12:55 PM
OK... SOOOoooooo it's 14-years later since the last post, and search engines are more sophisticated. Here's to hoping all the folks up the chain are able to read this new entry!
Back in '77, the "Saturday Night Live" folks published a book of
annotated scripts and photos from the first couple seasons of the show.
One short script that the NBC censors cut was a fake ad for Placenta
Helper, written by Al Franken and Tom Davis.
Laraine Newman and Gilda Radner were to play two pregnant women who run
into each other at their college reunion.
Laraine: "By the way, are you planning to eat the placenta?"
Gilda: "You're kidding! You mean the afterbirth?"
Laraine: "That's right. Many mammals eat their own placenta. It's
nutritious, it's 100 percent natural, and now that you're going to have
a family, you've got to watch your food budget more than ever. And
there's no cheaper meat than placenta."
Gilda: But is there enough placenta to make a complete meal for my
husband and myself?
Laraine: Not if your husband has a hearty appetite like mine. And
that's why you need Placenta Helper.
Gilda: Placenta Helper?
Laraine: That's right. Placenta Helper lets you stretch your placenta
into a tasty casserole. [Holds up a box of Placenta Helper.] Like
Placenta Romanoff--a zesty blend of cheeses makes for the zingy sauce
that Russian czars commanded at palace feasts. Or Placenta Oriental. An
exotic mixture of oriental vegetables and exotic herbs and spices
creates an exotic meal. Look, you can have placenta only once every
nine months. Why not make a rare occasion, a rare occasion?
[CUT TO: Gilda's kitchen. John Belushi, as her husband, has just
finished his placenta casserole.]
John: Ummm. That was great. Let's have Placenta Helper every night.
Gilda: Oh, honey!
[THEY LAUGH AT HIS STUPID MISTAKE.
01-17-2014, 01:31 PM
Though I do not wish to be accused of starting another urban legend along the same lines as, "That'd be up the butt, Bob,"...
Funny, the Newlywed Game legend was confirmed as true shortly after this post was made in 2000.
There's an old SDMB thread where the user Liberal swore he saw it himself, while other regulars here were dismissing his account as a false memory.
01-17-2014, 02:25 PM
Funny, the Newlywed Game legend was confirmed as true shortly after this post was made in 2000.
There's an old SDMB thread where the user Liberal swore he saw it himself, while other regulars here were dismissing his account as a false memory.And we have yet to see any evidence that that particular episode ever aired, so any claims that people saw it while the show was still on the air are spurious. I still say false memory based on rumors heard through the years.
01-17-2014, 03:42 PM
All I have to add is that in 1986 at a hospital in Indianapolis, our childbirth class was asked if anyone planned to take the placenta home. I made a placenta helper joke and now question it's originality.
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