Bill Murray began his career as a member of the popular Chicago-based comedy troop, The Second City, which has jumpstarted many other Saturday Night Live greats such as Tim Meadows, Amy Poehler, Mike Myers, Chris Farley, and Tina Fey.
After a successful stint in The Second City, Murray joined the cast of NBC’s new comedy variety show, Saturday Night Live, in 1977. Murray signed on with SNL at the start of the show’s second season, replacing original cast member Chevy Chase. He remained on the show for three full seasons, becoming one of the most recognized comedians in America and creating some of the most beloved Saturday Night Live characters of all time. Murray also met fellow cast mate Gilda Radner during his time on SNL and the two dated for several years.
One of Murray’s most popular reoccurring Saturday Night Live characters was “Nick the Lounge Singer” in which Murray played a stereotypical oily lounge singer aptly named Nick (though his last name was always different, usually related to a season such as “Spring” or “Summer”). Not the most successful of lounge singers, Nick was forced to perform in such venues as seedy dive bars and airport bars where not many people paid him much attention. But, no matter where he played, Nick always performed with gusto, taking himself very seriously. In between songs, Nick always joked with the audience, poking fun at them and laughing at his own jokes. Many of Saturday Night Live’s musical guests during this time appeared in this skit alongside the lovable Nick the Lounge Singer.
Another beloved reoccurring sketch staring Bill Murray was “The Nerds” in which Murray played Todd DiLaMuca, a hopeless nerdy teenager who constantly poked fun of his love interest, Lisa Loopner (played by Murray’s real-life girlfriend Gilda Ratner), in Lisa’s mom’s home. The sketch usually consisted of Todd tormenting Lisa by making fun of her flat chest, looking down her shirt, and giving her “noogies” while Lisa retaliated with nerdy comebacks such as “that was so funny, I forgot to laugh.” In one famous sketch, Steve Martin vies for Lisa’s affection as Todd’s arch nemesis, Chas the Spaz.
Bill Murray starred alongside funnyman Dan Akroyd in the popular sketch “The Ex Police” in which the two played former police officers (and ultra conservatives) who have been fired from the police force and now spend their time harassing the unfortunate tenants of their apartment complex for ridiculous offenses such as living together without being married and suspicion of being a lesbian.
Other lovable characters included one of the Bel-Araibs, a Beverly Hillbillies spoof with paranoid arabs; Honker the Homeless Man who was always performing a new job for which he was unsuited; and part of The Killer Bees, which was the first recurring characters on SNL and played by each of the troupe’s actors.
Many old skits are available for viewing online. One of my favorites (for obvious reasons!) is of Bill Murray’s character, The Honker, as a NYC cab driver.
You can watch many old skits on AT&T U-verse or other online programs like Hulu. Looking to make the switch to ATT U-verse? Get a Typepad.com and save on your purchase, and even get a Visa card.
Get a list of all of the SNL characters, as well as Bill Murray’s, at the SNL archive site. The site lists every character alphabetically with the appearance dates. Enjoy!