Rick Moranis Mercilessly Mocked Bruce Willis on ‘Saturday Night Live’

Paul Scheer says it’s the best middle finger of all time
Rick Moranis Mercilessly Mocked Bruce Willis on ‘Saturday Night Live’

As Saturday Night Live rolled into its 15th season in 1989, its first two episodes featured showbiz’s coolest action hero and its dweebiest nerd. The season opener was hosted by Bruce Willis, the smartass star of TV’s Moonlighting and cinema’s Die Hard. He even had a number five hit on the Billboard charts the previous year with “Respect Yourself.” Rick Moranis got the hosting nod for the season’s second episode, fresh off of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and playing musical comedy’s biggest dork, Seymour, in Little Shop of Horrors

If Hollywood was a high school, Willis would be shoving Moranis into a locker. But when it came to late-night comedy, the bullying went the other way around. 


Willis got things started during his opening monologue, revealing that 10 years prior, he had worked at SNL as a caterer. The wannabe actor got canned for an attitude problem, he confessed, but now SNL asked him back. Willis agreed but only if he could sing with the band. C’mon, G.E. Smith — let’s go! With that, Willis pulled out his mouth harp and launched into a bluesy number that proved the truism that all comedians want to be musicians and all musicians want to be comedians. 

It was a show-off move, but hey, hadn’t Mr. Cool earned it? What better chance for Willis to show America that he was the entertainer who could do it all! In a recent social media post, however, comedian Paul Scheer contended that Willis’ pretentious solo was a smug abuse of hosting power. And, in Scheer’s opinion, Moranis must have believed the performance “was the stupidest thing ever.”

So what did Moranis do the following week? 

Scheer says it was “a giant fuck you to Bruce Willis,” and yeah, of course it was! Moranis bounded onto the SNL stage, and like Willis, he joined the band for a rocking number. But anyone can blow into a harmonica. In short order, Moranis:

  • Grabbed the guitar from G.E. Smith’s neck and launched into a vicious riff
  • Gestured to the sax player to hold his horn to Moranis’ lips for a second solo while still strumming Smith’s axe
  • Kicked a camera operator out of his perch, threw on a headset and filmed a swooping (albeit out-of-focus) crane shot
  • Danced backstage and ironed Jon Lovitz’s pants
  • Took the director’s chair and punched buttons for several 1980s-style video effects
  • Fixed Nora Dunn’s makeup
  • Found his way into an operating room where he delivered a baby
  • Sprinted back to the stage to deliver a monologue

“Thanks for indulging me,” Moranis said, mocking Willis’ recent SNL ego trip without mercy. “I’ve always wanted to play with the band, run the camera, direct the show and deliver a baby right here on Saturday Night Live!”

Scheer was overcome with delight on his rewatch. Or as he put it, “That is the best fuck you without saying fuck you there ever has been.”


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