Saturday Night Live Sports Featuring Eddie Atari (1981)

There are many names that rank as legends in the Golden Age of arcade and video games. Ralph H. Baer, Nolan Bushnell, Allan Alcorn, Walter Day, Billy Mitchell, and Todd Rogers to name just a very few. But there is one name that seems to have been all but forgotten these days, a young man who was once a champion and received national attention on the likes of Saturday Night Sports…
Joe Piscopo - Saturday Night Live
…I’m of course talking about the once legendary Eddie Atari. The man who pioneered the “Italian Maneuver” and some of you might recall when back in 1976 during an Asteroids exhibition he hit his hyperspace button and disappeared for two complete years.
Asteroids
Yes, it turns out we just thought that Atari released Asteroids back in 1979. Being such a rising star it is absolutely hard to believe that anyone could have forgotten the name of Eddie Atari…as well as the tragedy that Saturday Night Sports reporter Matthew Laurence and head anchor Joe Piscopo witnessed on that evening back in 1981 during this live interview.

All my silliness aside, Eddie Murphy is on fire and this skit is worthy of your attention not just to help bring a smile to your face but as a nice reminder at how big arcade games were at the time to enter into such popular television shows like Saturday Night Live!

The Joe Piscopo Halloween Party (1987)

In 1987, I thought, “Oh Joe, what happened to you?” You sprung from my home state of New Jersey, full of promise and talent and then, I just don’t know what happened. Someone gave you a set of weights or something, you left SNL, the movies were a mixed bag. My friends all mocked, but I have to tell you I still stuck by you. People could deride, but I had your back. I even planned a little viewing party with my friends to watch your Halloween comedy special on HBO in 1987. Live comedy from the funny man from Passaic, this would be an interesting capper to the Halloween festivities and would certainly pull my friends back into the Joe-loving fold.

20 minutes into the special, I was alone. My friends found the special was confusing and at times embarrassing and they left, but I stuck it out. When it was over, I sadly retired the last inkling of my fandom for you Joe. Was I wrong to do so? Time would tell…

A decade later I was at a flea market and I spotted a hand labeled VHS tape with the words Joe Piscopo Halloween on it. I bought it for 75 cents, brought it home and rewatched this blast from the recent past. The whole thing was still a train wreck, but I have come to appreciate what an epic mess it is and from that point on, my friends tended to agree. It might not have been your intent, but this time capsule started to make new fans of Joe. Could it be you were ahead of your time? Was the world not mature to understand and appreciate this extravaganza?

It is time for you to break this title out of its VHS tomb and hit the road marketing it. Sell people on the “thinks I’m a rockstar” thing that was happening to comedians. Geniuses are never respected in their own time and yes your work on SNL bordered on genius, but his pop culture comedy musical mashup might be your Sgt. Peppers.


For people who have never seen it, you are in for a real treat, the entire special has been uploaded to YouTube. Watch it before it is gone…

Joe Piscopo Halloween Special – Part 1 of 5

Joe Piscopo Halloween Special – Part 2 of 5

Joe Piscopo Halloween Special – Part 3 of 5

Joe Piscopo Halloween Special – Part 4 of 5

Joe Piscopo Halloween Special – Part 5 of 5