The first time I ever saw Mary Tyler Moore she was on “Saturday Night Live,” looking very uncomfortable.
She was giving her monologue. I was 13 and it was 1988. The week before, “SNL” had done a sketch with Matthew Broderick in which he goes to a nude beach where a bunch of guys casually discuss their penises, using the word penis 28 times. (“Hey, pretty small penis there, Doug … Hey, that’s okay. There’s plenty of guys around here with small penises.”)
I remember the Broderick episode being so good that I’ve avoided watching it again, because I’m sure it can’t live up to my memories. But Moore remembered it well, because pro-family groups were pretty unhappy about the penis sketch, and Moore was pretty uncomfortable with what people might think of her hosting the show, given her wholesome reputation.
“But I’m from the school of show business that says that when you give your word you’ll do something, you do it. Since I agreed to host the show in January … well, here I am,” she said.
Then she remembered the penis count.
“Twenty-eight times … I mean, how can you say … well, I’m sure they’ve got their reasons. I guess I just don’t get political satire.”
The monologue went on, until Moore mentioned the musical guest, Elvis Costello. And delivered what is, for my money, the best closer any “SNL” monologue has ever had.