SUPPORTING GREAT TELEVISION

Saturday Night Live: Rye by the Sword

In Flashbacks on January 17, 2011 at 12:00 am

John Belushi and Buck Henry in “Samurai Delicatessen.” (Screen cap)

On January 17, 1976, NBC aired Saturday Night Live’s 10th episode, which featured Samurai Delicatessen, the classic sketch in which guest host Buck Henry enters a deli and finds a sword-wielding John Belushi behind the counter.

Belushi, who auditioned for the show as the samurai character, played him on-air once before – in Samurai Hotel, a two-minute sketch in December 1975.

SNL impresario Lorne Michaels tapped staff writer Alan Zweibel to script Samurai Delicatessen because Zweibel had once worked in a deli.

After its success, Zweibel went on to write the many subsequent Samurai sketches.

In 1996, TV Guide ranked Samurai Delicatessen 14th on its list of television’s 100 greatest moments.

See for yourself: Samurai Delicatessen can be streamed at Hulu; the sketch is also part of Saturday Night Live: The Complete First Season, 1975-1976, which is available on DVD and through iTunes, Netflix streaming and Amazon.com video on demand.

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