Song Of The Day 11/9/2015: Joe Piscopo – “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll Medley” + “First Rehearsal”

Quarterly Covers Report – Joe Piscopo was on Saturday Night Live. He started in the 1980–81 season after Lorne Michaels and all the last remaining original Not Ready For Prime Time Players left the show, as had Bill Murray and Harry Shearer. The 1980–81 cast was brought together by new producer Jean Doumanian, who was given a super-short time frame and a $650,000 budget cut to bring SNL back to glory. Doumanian’s efforts failed, the show was reviled and she was out of the job mid-season. By the end of that season all the players Doumanian had recruited were gone from the show except for two: Piscopo and featured player Eddie Murphy. The others, save for comedian Gilbert Gottfried, went into relative oblivion. From 1981 to 1984 Murphy and Piscopo were the main reasons to watch Saturday Night Live besides boredom, social awkwardness and the death of disco.

Piscopo was one of two SNL comedians who delivered a killer Frank Sinatra impression; the other was the late Phil Hartman. Though Hartman’s impression featured in the best Sinatra sketch SNL ran, I preferred Piscopo’s Sinatra impression. He was a fellow native New Jerseyan, for one thing. Piscopo worked actual singing into the act as well; I don’t recall Hartman doing that. He may have. I just didn’t watch for a time for liturgical reasons.

Some time after a particularly well-received skit featuring Piscopo and Murphy as Stevie Wonder reworking “Ebony and Ivory” Columbia Records put out today’s parody single. I actually bought it. The in-joke was that Sinatra famously detested rock ‘n’ roll, at least at first: “It is sung, played and written for the most part by cretinous goons,” he said in ’57. “It manages to be the martial music of every sideburned delinquent on the face of the earth.” I believe Frank mellowed on this topic over time. Piscopo gets mileage through applying unique Sinatra-isms to inappropriate songs like “Under My Thumb” and “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” and mispronouncing “Bruce Springstein.”

After SNL Piscopo starred in a very underrated movie called Wise Guys with Danny DeVito. He now has an AM radio morning show in New York. Eddie Murphy was in Norbit. Sinatra passed away in 1998, one year after Pat Boone released In A Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy, completing the space-time continuum rift set in motion by today’s offering.

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