Sure, Bruce Willis played a Navy SEAL in 2013 who wants to bring some “Die Hard”-like bravado to a mission. But our pick for the best Saturday Night Live segment that has featured the U.S. Navy is from the early days.
Datelined in Bayonne, New Jersey, this 1979 parody of the Navy’s commercial – “It’s not just a job. It’s an adventure.” — features sailors at work.
Some thoughts from our staff writer Mark D. Faram, who at the time it aired was a photographer’s mate airman aboard the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy:
Was on the ship this particular Saturday night and was up late watching television when in the middle of the show, Saturday Night Live aired one of their signature commercial parodies. This one was produced in the same format as the Navy’s TV ads of the day. Each “real” commercial featured a port of call in an exotic part of the world.
I’d been in the Navy just under a year and aboard the ship for just over three months and was mess cooking and experiencing shipyard life for the first time — living on board the ship in an industrial area.
To the surprise of many on the “Big John” at the time, this commercial was a minute-long video montage of all the worst jobs sailors get assigned to do, from sorting steaming hot laundry to scrubbing toilets and chipping paint — all mainstays of sailor work then — and today.
When the commercial wrapped up, you could hear the hoots and hollers as they echoed through the passageways of the ship, then laid up in Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Virginia.
For those experiencing the Navy of the day, the commercial was far from a parody to us.
“It’s funny and all,” a shipmate said, “but all of America will think this is a joke when in fact, everything they show is totally true!”
Happy 40th, SNL!