When SNL’s Coneheads Played ‘Family Feud’

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A scene from Coneheads Family Feud, Jan. 21, 1978

Among the many recurring sketches in the early seasons of Saturday Night Live was the Coneheads, a family of three with a father, mother and teenage daughter. The trio were like many sitcom families with husband and wife quarrels, and arguments with their teenaged kids. But there was one major point of difference. The Coneheads – Beldar (played by Dan Aykroyd), his wife Prymaat (Jane Curtin), and Connie (of course) (portrayed by Laraine Newman) – were aliens, from the planet Remulak.

The family had several distinguishing characteristics: their formal vocabulary was spoken in a robotic voice. Most of all, was the unique shape of their bald heads. We were first introduced to them in season two on Jan. 15, 1977, in a sketch called “The Coneheads at Home.” It proved so popular that it was reprised several more times that season.

The Coneheads launched numerous catchphrases, such as “consume mass quantities.” Prymaat parodied sitcom housewives as she frequently wore an apron over her house dress, emblazoned with “I Hate Housework.”

The characters were created by Tom Davis, one of the original writers for SNL, who occasionally appeared on the long-running series in those early seasons.

On January 21, 1978, in season three, Davis and Co. cleverly merged the recurring sketch in a parody with the long-running game show, Family FeudSNL house announcer shouts, “And here’s your host, former Hogan’s Heroes‘ regular… Richard Dawson!”

“We’re expecting a lot from you today, little fella”

Out comes Bill Murray, who was in his second season on the series. The limber comedian sways onto the set, perfectly mimicking the British actor. He introduces the Jomells from California, portrayed by guest host Steve Martin, along with Gilda Radner, and John Belushi, all of whom goodnaturedly overplay their enthusiasm as contestants.

During the introductions, while Martin explains his job as the spokesman for the Romaine Lettuce Growers Association of California, Murray purses his lips, just like Dawson.

As Murray pinches Belushi’s cheek, the latter replies, “Can we cut the condescending crap and play the game?”

Now it’s time for the Coneheads. In response to the question, “Where do you folks come from,” Beldar pauses nervously and says, “France… We come from France.” When Murray asks Newman about herself she replies, “I am 16 Earth years old.”

It’s time to start the Feud! Eight fast minutes of pure comic genius.

Related: In the series’ very next episode, Murray appeared as Nick the Lounge Singer

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