Sometime in the '80s (I think), during the Cold War, I saw a sketch involving an American and a Soviet diplomat. Neither could speak the other’s language, so there was an interpreter. Russian dialogue was subtitled. Both diplomats offered words of compromise and reconciliation, but the interpreter ‘translated’ these peaceful overtures as belligerent and insulting declarations. I think at the end, World War III started.
Does anyone remember this sketch? I don’t think it was SNL or SCTV. It may have been Fridays or Almost Live.
Bonus points if you have a link to a video of the sketch.
I have a very vague recollection of this. I’m thinking it was more late '70s, after the fiasco in Poland with Jimmy Carter’s lame interpreter. Which would make it a natural for SNL with Aykroyd as Carter and maybe Belushi as Brezhnev (and probably Buck Henry as the interpreter).
But, as I say, this is only a vague recollection.
On the other hand, Johnny Carson did a great impression of Reagan, so it could well have been on The Tonight Show in the early '80s.
I know the exact sketch you’re thinking of. It was the very early 80s. It was not performed live on any show like *SNL *or Fridays, it was a filmed, independent short, no audience or laugh track. I only ever saw it on HBO when they used to show comedy shorts in between movies (they were titled ’Short Takes’)… As I recall the interpreter keeps translating one side of the conversation (the American President’s I think) into questions about the Soviet Premiere’s wardrobe and tailor. It ends with a voice over of the two country’s military commanders ordering the launch of their ICBMs. I think the America commander says “Fire that mother!” as well.
It was very well done and very funny, however I can’t find an actual copy of it anywhere via Google…
Also it didn’t use subtitles, the Russian dialog is merely done in english-ski, i.e. English spoken with a think Russian accent. Except for the ending missile launch voice over, I think that may have been in actual Russian…
I know this was a short film; I seem to recall that the interpreter guy looked a lot like Jon Landis. I want to say it was called The Interpreter, but since Sydney Pollack went and used that title in the mid-90s, it’s a little hard to dig out what I’m looking for.
I think I saw a bit like that watching a Tom Jones DVD where he had great musicians as guests on the shows from around 1970. It was Ace Trucking Co or The committee. He used both. Might have been Fred Willard. Good luck.