Saturday Night Live Moment: Dolly's Mountain Stories

Dolly Parton tells the SNL gang about the stories her mama told her. The stories, however, start sounding strangely familiar...
May 15, 2006

Dana Carvey…himself
Nora Dunn…herself
Phil Hartman…himself
Jan Hooks…herself
Victoria Jackson…herself
Jon Lovitz…himself
Dennis Miller…himself
Kevin Nealon…himself

..and guest host Dolly Parton

The first, and hopefully, one of many installments to come will be “Saturday Night Live Moments,” in which I’ll show some images (or maybe a key moment) and some dialogue from a randomly chosen sketch. Provided, of course, that I actually have the means to do it, namely a tape or DVD of the sketch and my camera. This sketch originally aired on April 15, 1989, during the show’s fourteenth season. It starred the entire company.

The Set Up

This setting of this sketch is the show’s “home base,” which is the nickname for the main stage where the host delivers the monologue, and the “Weekend Update” set is located. The entire cast is set up on couches and couch cushions on the stage. All are in plain clothes, out of costume and character make-up—basically, they’re playing themselves. A sketch like this is usually well suited to end the show, but it actually aired much earlier in the show, before “Weekend Update.” The reason? Sketches are ranked according to popularity during the dress rehearsal. The funniest sketch of the night is usually the one that airs after the monologue, and the one that got the least laughs, but not enough to render it being cut usually airs last. This aired as the second sketch (after the first post-monologue sketch and the first musical segment) of the night, reflecting the idea that it must have received a lot of laughs in rehearsal. Though it is staged, the chemistry of this group would have you believing it isn’t.

Let’s meet the group:

(Seated on center couch) Dana Carvey and Dolly Parton (not pictured)
(Back row) Jan Hooks and Jon Lovitz/(seated on the floor) Kevin Nealon and Victoria Jackson
(Seated on the floor) Dennis Miller/(On Couch) Nora Dunn/(Leaning on couch) Phil Hartman

The Sketch

(Fade in on Dana Carvey and Dolly Parton seated on a couch)

Dana Carvey: Tell us a mountain story, Dolly!

All: (In enthusiastic agreement) Yeah!

Dolly Parton: Really? Alright, now the first thing you have to know, now, is that I was born and raised in the Smokey Mountains in East Tennessee!

Kevin Nealon: Well, we knew that! (laughs)

Dolly Parton: Well, you might, Kevin, but maybe everybody out there don't know that.

Jan Hooks: Oh, I think they do, Dolly!

(Audience applauds, cast agrees)

Dolly Parton: Alright, well, that's beside the point, but i'll tell you a story. I grew up in a small house with my momma and my daddy and twelve kids. And we were out in the middle of nowhere and we didn't have anything but each other. Of course, I'm not complaining.. but we didn't make a whole lot of money, and didn't have more than anything but our love and our music!

Victoria Jackson: Dolly, you mean you didn't have any of the modern conveniences that we all take for granted?

Dolly Parton: That is absolutely right, Victoria! I mean, we didn't have a washing machine or a gas stove, we didn't even have a TV.

Dennis Miller: Well, what did you guys do for fun?

Dolly Parton: Oh, we made our own fun, Dennis! Why, we'd sing, and we'd play games…and Momma would dream up stories for us, I mean stories that were a whole lot better than anything you could watch on television today!

Phil Hartman: (Slight laugh, smiling) She must have been quite a woman.

Dolly Parton: Well, you don't have to patronize me, Phil. Anyway, she'd tell us stories that'd keep us going 'til bedtime!

Jon Lovitz: Like what kind of stories?

Dolly Parton: Oh, just all kinds of stories. She'd just make up scary stories, and funny stories, stories about the Old West…

Nora Dunn: Oh, those Western stories must have been great!

Dolly Parton: Oh, they were! My favorite was about this white-haired man that had three sons, and he lived out on a big ranch in Nevada. And the oldest son, see, he was real, real moody, and serious.. and the middle one, well, he was big and lovable…and the youngest one - whoo! - he was so handsome and brave!

Victoria Jackson: He sounds really cute!

Dolly Parton: Oh, well, he was! Well, his name was Little Joe…[the cast now realizes she's relating the story of the TV show "Bonanza ] and he had more girlfriends than you could shake a stick at! Lord, the times that family had with that tiny servant of theirs…My Momma, she did, she had a big imagination, that's for sure! Hey, but she loved to tell us police stories, that was some of my favorites, too!

Dennis Miller: (surprised) She told you police stories?

Dolly Parton: Yeah.. well, she'd just talk a blue streak about these two detectives that would drive around L.A. in this blue Plymouth Valiant. One fella's name, I think, was Friday, and he did everything by the book. I mean, he was straighter than a hog's tail in a pork factory! See, my Momma had so many stories, and the funniest ones were about this silly, silly, crazy woman named Lucy! I man, she got into all kinds of crazy situations! There was this one time when her husband Ricky--he was this Cuban fella--and he had an audition in Los Angeles, and they lost their script, Lucy did, so she had to sneak into the studio, and William Holden was there, and it was just the biggest mess!

(She looks like she doesn't get it; I think he's a little suprised)

Dana Carvey: So…these were made up?

Dolly Parton: Right. Except for the ones about Friday. Momma said that they were based on some kind of truth, but that they always changed the names to protect the innocent.

(Collective thought...yeah...)

Kevin Nealon: So, there were no televisions anywhere?

Dolly Parton: Well, of course not! I mean, why would we need one? Family's all you need! [thinking] Oh, yeah! I forgot to tell you, there was this Halloween special, that was Momma's favorite! It was a spooky story about a witch, and she had these magical powers…and she married this advertising agent, his name was Darren. See, Darren didn't want anybody to know about his wife, so they lived out in the suburbs, and they had this real, real nosy neighbor--

Jon Lovitz: [excited] Oh! Ms. Kravitz! [quickly covers his mouth as Jan Hooks gives him a dirty look]

Dolly Parton: Wow! That's right, Jon! How'd you know that? Are you from the hills?

Jon Lovitz: Uh, no…I…I…

Jan Hooks: (Argues) Jon! Yes, of course, he's from the hills…aren't you, Jon?

Jon Lovitz: Yes…I'm from Arkansas…

Dolly Parton: Well, I never knew that! That is something! Well, you learn something new everyday! Well, listen, I hope that you enjoyed the stories, and thank you for listening…but I gotta go get ready for the next thing…

(Cast says good-bye to Dolly, and then all look at each other, as if they are taking stock of what they just heard)

Nora Dunn: That poor, poor woman…

Kevin Nealon: Yeah. Thinking that stuff was original.

Dana Carvey: Boy, can you imagine missing out on all those hours and hours of television?

Dennis Miller: Yeah, and then having to hear about it secondhand. I mean, it's so sad…

Phil Hartman: Is it really? No, I mean, think about it. While we had all that fed to us, she got to use her imagination.

Jan Hooks: Yeah…we're all kind of constrained to the limits of what we saw. But not Dolly.

Phil Hartman: Who knows what her Darren looks like? Her Hoss? Her Friday? Her Larry Tate!

Kevin Nealon: Maybe her Colonel Klink had a thick head of hair!

Jon Lovitz: Maybe her Lassie was a dachschund!

Victoria Jackson: You know what? Maybe we should all stop watching TV…

Phil Hartman: [ laughs ] That's ridiculous! It's just something that happened to Dolly.

(Everyone begins to get up to exit the main stage)

Dennis Miller: Miss out on TV, what are you talking about…

(Audience cheers and applauds)


This has been the first installment of “Saturday Night Live Moments.” As I’ve said, I hope this is the first of many to come, but I may just make this a regular posting on the forum. I’m not sure yet—if this gets approved, then I’ll decide.

But, until then, be wary of anyone who wants to tell you “mountain stories.”

Screen caps and sketch dialogue from “The Best of Saturday Night Live: 1988.” Distributed by Starmaker Entertainment, Copyright 1992. Sketch copyright 1989.
More Articles From Allison_SNLKid
An unhandled error has occurred. Reload Dismiss