Point/Counterpoint, a periodic sketch that was part of Saturday Night Live’s regular news parody, Weekend Update, was always a favorite for me and my friends. The idea was a satire on an actual segment of the perennial Sunday night CBS news show, “60 Minutes.”  Liberal journalist Shana Alexander would debate conservative journalist James Kilpatrick on a given hot topic subject of the day. In the late 1970s, one of the hottest was the raging palimony suit making daily headlines in newspapers all over country.

Fragments from news services depicting the daily occurrences in court during the infamous Marvin v. Marvin palimony suit.

I don’t know if Alexander and Kilpatrick ever tackled the subject but if they did, as much as they sniped at each other, it was playful compared to the version on Saturday Night Live. Jane Curtin’s opening salvo was snarky but falls flat compared to what her on air rival Dan Ackroyd opens with. I believe it was the first time on Point/Counterpoint that Akroyd used his now infamous opener: “Jane, you ignorant slut!”
The roar from the live audience was deafening. However, it could not compare to the reaction from myself and other teenage boys watching in a buddy’s living room. Seriously. The hoots, howls, catcalls and foot stomping must have woke the neighbors that long ago Saturday night. So much so, it was hard to hear the rest of Ackroyd’s dialogue that came so fast and furious we couldn’t keep up. Thankfully, with repeated viewings, I’ve heard it many times and it sill amazes me the way words and phrases like “dried out slunk meat,” and “rapacious swamp cow,” just tumbled so quickly and viciously out of his mouth. Didn’t matter if he was wrong or right on the subject. The imagery he created boggles the mind.
Saturday Night Live is about to premiere its 45th season in a few weeks and despite its decades of controversy (some ongoing) it would be real tough to beat this gem from the 1979 season. So, with that in mind, re-enjoy Point/Counterpoint…if you dare!
Oh, and if you want to know the REAL outcome of the controversial trial, never mind other versions. Check out Lee Marvin Point Blank. The documented facts will amaze you. Read it….if you dare!
– Dwayne Epstein

Jane Curtin & Dan Aykroyd confront each other on SNL’S Point/Counterpoint.


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