FUNNY: Remember These Times South Dakota Made It On ‘Saturday Night Live’?
We all do it. No matter which midwestern state you grew up in, you get excited when your state gets mentioned on national TV or in a movie.
I did a silent fist-pump when Ajak went to live in the South Dakota wilderness in The Eternals. Even though it is not at all connected to the real Sioux Falls, the series Supernatural spent lots of time in town. And it's always a joy when The Weather Channel shouts out a town around here.
For nearly half a century, Saturday Night Live has been an American cultural institution. Its satirical eye has been turned on South Dakota a few times over the years. We even had a governor almost host the show.
South Dakota on Saturday Night Live
In 2021 South Dakota's Senator John Thune made it on SNL's Weekend Update segment when he opposed a minimum wage increase:
In 2014 one of SNL's commercial parodies was set in South Dakota at Waterbed Warehouse. Remember at Waterbed Wearhouse, Janene says "Our waterbeds are the beeeest." And we get Martin Freeman showing off his Fargo accent.
SNL not only pokes fun at politicians, but the show also has a long history of having political figures on the show.
In April 1984 former South Dakota Senator and presidential candidate George McGovern hosted Saturday Night Live after having little luck in that year's presidential primaries, which he jokes about in his monologue:
If you need more George on SNL here's a sketch he was in:
South Dakota's Governor Hosts Saturday Night Live
On November 19, 1977, the sitting governor of South Dakota hosted Saturday Night Live. Well, to be fair, he co-hosted as part of a contest and Buck Henry was the official host.
The show held an 'Anyone Can Host' contest. People were nominated for the job by sending in a postcard with a short explanation of why they should host.
South Dakota's governor at the time was Richard Kneip. His staff thought it would be funny to nominate him.
He was chosen as one of four finalists and joined them on the November 1977 show. Unfortunately, he lost out to funny old lady Miskel Spillman, who then hosted the show proper the next month.
When Henery asked the governor why he wanted to host, Kneip said,
"Well, Buck, you and others know, or think at least, that a fella by the name of Ford had a little trouble coming on this show, but I’ve got nine good reasons why I’d like to host the show. First of all, I’ve got 8 sons and a lovely wife, Nancy, I’ve got a good staff back home, they want me to do it, So I- y’know, I guess I think I could do it. A lot of people from, uh, South Dakota are known around the world."
The whole episode is on NBC's Peacock streaming service.
Kneip was an interesting govonor. He was the youngest governor elected in SD. He was 37 when he took office in 1971. He was also the first SD governor to be elected three times. He was in office from 1971 to 1978.
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