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That was the ad line that promoted the first-ever episode of ABC’s live comedy series, Fridays, April 11, 1980. It’s fitting and ironic that the one and only thing that anyone remembers about this nearly-forgotten show, the first thing they say about it, even to this very day is the subject of its first “cold open”. A couple of young writers are sitting at a table, complaining that everybody’s comparing their new ABC show to NBC’s comedy sketch show, Saturday Night Live, and it seems so unfair. After all, Lorne Michaels was far from the first producer to put sketch comedy on the air mixed with rock performers. All of the unseen cast members on the other side of the table can be heard, agreeing about how unfair it is. Then the camera reverses angle, and we see that all of the Fridays comedians are dressed up in classic cliché SNL outfits: bees, coneheads, Blues Brothers, Roseanne Rosannadanna, Point and Counterpoint, Weekend Update.
Text scrolls up the screen: Lorne Michaels didn’t invent scrolling words on the screen to make an ironic point underlining or contradicting the spoken lines of the performers. Why isn’t anybody calling him an imitator? It was not only very funny, but nervy, a perfect start for a show whose young adult comedy genre requires at least the illusion of a little sassy bravery in the face of the powerful, and by 1980 that’s what SNL had become.