Sunday Cinema | Frank Zappa On Saturday Night Live

By Scott Bernstein Nov 9, 2014 8:40 am PST

Saturday Night Live was so hip in its early years that not only was Frank Zappa brought on as a musical guest in 1976, but he was asked back in 1978 as host as well as musical guest. Frank’s 1978 appearance didn’t go so hot as he allegedly was banned from the show due to his mugging for the camera and pointedly reading from cue cards according to Kill Ugly Radio.

“It’s a very difficult thing to do; they never make it easy on anyone who hosts the show. All the direction and attention goes to the sketches. They’re not called skits–they become ‘incensed’ if you call them skits–and it’s all designed to accommodate the people who are regulars on the show, so anybody who goes on there to hosts is at a severe disadvantage. Because they never tell you what camera is on, and you’re not supposed to memorize your script because they’re rewriting right up to show time. And so you’re looking at the cue cards, and unless you’re used to acting live on TV, you haven’t got a prayer; you’ll be looking at the wrong camera. It was really hard,” Frank told Stereo Review in 1979 about his SNL hosting experience.

Zappa has been found on many “Worst SNL Hosts Ever” lists and detailed the backstory to Stereo Review, “And the other thing that happened was–and I didn’t find out about it until the day after the show–that the first day I went there for the meetings with them they didn’t like me and wanted to get rid of me. But no one said anything to my face while I was working on the thing. So they had written dialogue for me to say that I wouldn’t normally say; they wouldn’t let me write any of my own stuff.” For all the issues with Frank as an actor, there was no doubting his musical ability. We’ve compiled five clips from his 1976 and 1978 visits to SNL including a special guest spot from the one and only John Belushi.

Let’s take a look:


[I’m The Slime]

[Peaches En Regalia]


[Dancing Fool]

[The Meek Shall Inherit The Earth]

[St. Alphonso’s > Rollo w/ John Belushi]

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