Al Jarreau -- The Comic Actor: 1981 (Repost)

Wednesday, 15 February 2017 07:50 AM Written by 



SCTV, the groundbreaking TV satire shot in Canada, was on  a creative roll in 1981. Built around TV spoofs (including the fictional SCTV network), the cast was built around late John Candy, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Pittsburgh native Joe Flaherty, Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas and Catherine O'Hara (later joined by Martin Short). The show's writing team wanted to integrate musical guests into the comedy sketches. They did this with a number of luminaries, among them Dr. John, Natalie Cole, John Mellencamp, Roy Orbison, Tony Bennett, Levon Helm, Ian Thomas (Dave's younger brother), the Tubes--and Al Jarreau.  (Photo: Jarreau with Rick Moranis as Phil Silvers).

This satirical remake of the pioneering Al Jolson film The Jazz Singer (the first major sound film) turns the original premise on his head. The original film involved an older rabbi wanting his jazz-crazy son to become a cantor, only to accept his son's decision in the end. In the SCTV version, a rock record producer, played by Levy's goofy Sid Dithers character, wants adopted son Yussel Dithers (Jarreau) to become a soul singer. Yussel aspires to become a cantor (and in the end, does).

At the time of the taping, "We're In This Love Together" was Jarreau's current single (he's lip-synching as most SCTV musical guests did, Bennett excepted).

Flaherty portrays Rabbi Knish. Moranis offers a spot-on impersonation of comic actor Phil Silvers in his  1950's role as TV's Sgt. Ernie Bilko. O'Hara plays Linda McCartney during the Wings era, when her musical skills (or lack thereof) were a topic of intense debate.


Footnote: this was the fictional "third remake" of the movie.  Earlier real-life feature remakes starred Danny Thomas (1952) and Neil Diamond (1980).  Jarreau's stance at the end reflects the Neil Diamond version.


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