A Young Chevy Chase Stole This Classic SNL Line From An X-Rated Film He Starred In

In 1972, Woody Allen scored a surprise success with his audacious sketch comedy film "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)." This rambunctious collection of ribald bits was both uproarious and deceptively off-handed. Suddenly, there was a market for loosely stitched-together, adult-skewing yuk-fests. These movies could be made fast and on the cheap because you didn't need production value to get a belly laugh out of dirty jokes or gratuitous nudity. This was smash-and-grab comedy, and it thrived throughout most of the decade.

One such practitioner of this scandalous style was Ken Shapiro. The counterculture satirist had created an underground comedy hit in New York City with his Channel One Theater, an innovative live show that barraged audiences with tawdry skits via three television sets (this was 1970, so those sets were not particularly big). With Allen's movie, Monty Python's "And Now for Something Completely Different" and Brian De Palma's "Hi, Mom!" making untoward hay in movie theaters, Shapiro brought his company of performers together and made a play for midnight-movie infamy. The result was "The Groove Tube," a ludicrously broad parody of television that initially received an X rating for sexual content and nudity.

The film was a hit, but its enduring cultural significance is the introduction of a young Chevy Chase. And Chase paid this career boost forward by lifting a line from a sketch in which he did not appear.

I'm Chevy Chase, and I'm stealing your catchphrase

Chase appears in two sketches in "The Groove Tube." His best bit is a spoof of the mind-blowingly sexist Geritol commercials that hinged on the catchphrase "My wife, I think I'll keep her." He also turns up in a throwaway barbershop quartet bit with Shapiro, who beats out percussion over the future "Saturday Night Live" star's scalp.

"The Groove Tube" has aged horribly, but the sketch that Chase owes his catchphrase to is "Channel One Evening News," which peaks with the late Richard Belzer portraying an unabashedly racist President of the United States. If you look up the film, don't say we didn't warn you. The segment ends with Shapiro's anchorman signing off with "Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow." When Chase became the first Weekend Update anchor on "SNL," he stole the line wholesale.

To Chase's credit (which is not something that is often said), he circled back to Shapiro at the height of his post-"SNL" stardom for the bizarre 1981 sci-fi comedy "Modern Problems." Ironically, the Shapiro-directed film was defanged by 20th Century Fox, which wanted a PG-rated comedy. The film was a modest hit, but Shapiro's career never recovered. When he died in 2017, every obit credited him as the man who gave Chase his second-most-famous catchphrase on "SNL."