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Wednesday, October 19, 2005


SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, once the nation’s stronghold of irreverent and offensive humor that protested the utter uselessness of what passed for TV entertainment, and now a textbook example of how to kiss the ass that you used to kick. Since it debuted in 1975 several of its alumni have gone on to the metaphysical after-party, and one of the more obscure joined the Choir Invisible just the other day, namely Charles Rocket, the victim of an apparent suicide in Connecticut. Hey, I grew up in Connecticut, so I can relate.

You are now undoubtedly saying, “Who the motherfuck was Charles Rocket?” Well, little buckaroos let Uncle Bunche fill you in.

Charles Rocket was one of the mostly horrendous cast who replaced the original Not Ready For Prime Time Players in 1980, a cast that gave the world a teenage Eddie Murphy — who was relegated mostly to the sideline by idiot producer Jean Doumanian, who felt that he wasn’t funny (translation: he was black) — and, with the exceptions of Joe Piscopo and Gilbert Gotfried, the rest of that sorry cast vanished into well-deserved obscurity. Denny Dillon, anyone?

I discovered SNL during the tail end of its second season and was hooked by the dirty humor, sheer tastelessness and great live bands that I had never heard of — it was there that I discovered Devo, the Talking Heads, Elvis Costello and others — and once the original cast departed to mostly bigger and better things I resolved to give their successors a fair chance. As a result of that fair chance for the most part being soundly betrayed I have only periodically checked in on the show since it has devolved into the kind of safe, sanitized horseshit that I hated before the original SNL and still despise to this day.

Charles Rocket as a performer was just as bland and talentless as most of his fellow cast members, and despite taking over for Bill Murray on the “Weekend Update” segment with his feeble “Rocket Report,” he had not one character or sketch to his credit that anyone remembers...except for the following tale:

On February 21, 1981, the nation was gripped by DALLAS fever as viewers wracked their brains in an attempt to answer the burning question “Who shot J.R.?” and SNL was hosted by DALLAS regular Charlene Tilton. During one of the many weak sketches that ensued, Charles Rocket was unexpectedly shot by an unknown assailant, setting up the rest of the show for endless — and bad — jokes revolving around “Who Shot C.R.?”

My fifteen-year-old ass was underwhelmed by all of this, and when the cast finally assembled onstage for the customary goodnights, Rocket was brought out in a wheelchair and Charlene Tilton expressed her happiness at Rocket having survived the attack. At that point Rocket turned to the camera, on live television, and said “I just wanna know who the fuck did it,” followed by a smarmy smirk. That line was clearly NOT part of the script, since the rest of the cast looked as surprised as the rest of us, complete with Charlene Tilton looking so shocked that she could have fired her tampon into the audience.

A week after that sophomoric attempt at being a “bad boy,” Rocket appeared on the show during the news segment and apologized for his gaffe, after which he went into a story about a then-recent hockey game in which somebody got hit in the face with the puck. At that point Rocket turned to the camera and sarcastically uttered the phrase “Did somebody say ‘puck?’” He was fired not long afterward, and the last thing I remember seeing him in was a recurring role during the short-lived FOX television series FLYING BLIND, with Tea Leoni.

And that’s all you really will ever need to know about the late Charles Rocket.


Anonymous said...

WHo the "puck" are you asshole???
I'm so sure you are qualified to comment on how NOBODY remembers him or his talent. You took the time jerkoff to post your thoughts and if you view other site there is aot about him, Dumb and Dumber, not one of my favorites BUT was good at boxoffice. However, his demise is sad he was someones family. Your comments and "review" show your lack of compassion, I hope you get equal epitath when your time comes-dickhead!

Anonymous said...

Ignore the previous poster, Bunche. He's the asshole. I, for one, am glad Charles Rocket is dead. He had a stupid name and zero talent.

I he had any balls at all, he would've offed himself via a video stream on the internet or press conference (like anyone would've showed up). It would have been the first time in his life he was entertaining at all. That would've been so cool.

Bud Dywer had the right idea. Now HE was an entertainer!!!!

Anonymous said...

PS: Also reminds me of a popular joke at the time:

Q: What's the difference between Bud Dwyer and Bud Lite?

A: Bud Lite has a head on it!

Heh. Good one.

Anonymous said...

For a real, heartfelt obituary go here:

How dare you... Charlie was loved by everyone who ever met him and may be one of the most underappreciated actors/artists in the past 20 years or so. He didn't do that to be a 'bad boy' he just forgot his line. He's been my friend for a long long time, and was enormously influential on my group.

Respect the dead, especially those who really deserve it,

Dave Byrne

Anonymous said...

Whoa... Are you that dude from the Talking Heads who wears the big goofy white suit?

Anonymous said...

I fucking love the Talking Heads! "Psychokiller! Something in French..."

Anonymous said...

Ace Petrone says:

What a wretched waste of a lifespan if all you will be remembered for is cussing on a lame tv show, and then 20 years later slitting your own throat. Neither of these things did much for his "career". And for the morons who get offended by things said on this blog, get your own damn blog and say whatever you want. Charles Rocket is the asshole for putting his family thru the misery that suicide causes.
One thing I disagree with. Denny Dillon did go on to better things with a long run as the wacky receptionist on HBO's Dream On.

Scraps said...

Rocket did some good work after SNL. The problem with that era was the ass-awful writing much more than the hapless cast.

I was an SNL fan from the start, but I'm not among those who think the first couple seasons were the peak and it was all downhill after that. I think there are at least as many peaks in the Lovitz / Carvey / Dunn / Hartman / etc years. The early years were groundbreaking, but a lot of the material hasn't actually aged that well, in my opinion. Not as badly as Laugh-In, but a similar kind of period calcification. And it's hard to look back on Dan Ayckroyd and not conclude he was never very funny. And the Blues Brothers pointed toward the awfulness that was to come before SNL navigated its way back out of the wilderness (for a while). (And yeah, I think the movie of the Blues Brothers sucks big red rocks too; one of those generational icons that completely baffles me [Caddyshack is another amazingly overrated piece of utter tripe] {help, I'm caught in a series of infinitely regressing nested brackets!}.])

Peter Maranci said...

Somebody should mention that Rocket did a great job as the evil Grossberg on the American Max Headroom series. I know that wasn't one of your favorites, but I liked it.

As you know, I'm second to nobody in admiring the original SNL cast and hating what happened to the show after they left. Joe Piscopo and Tim Kazerninsky should have both been beaten to death with Lorne Michael's corpse on live TV, as far as I'm concerned. And I'm ashamed to share ethnicity with Jeanne Doumanian. But that said, I for one thought that Rocket wasn't bad.

Thanks for reminding me of Denny Dillon, by the way. I have to go scrub my eyesockets with sand now.


Anonymous said...

There was a lot more to Charlie Rocket than his time on SNL and as an actor. He was someone's husband, father, brother, son and friend to many. He was very talented in many ways and by all accounts a very nice person. He was a musician and an artist who influenced a great number of people. Despite your moronic comments, there are a lot of people who feel lucky just to have known him as a loved one and yes as a fan. What an asshole you must be to have so little compassion and to revel in the death of another human being. I have nothing but pity for you. RIP Charlie Claverie

Anonymous said...

Ace Petrone says:

What the fuck is wrong with you? If Charles Rocket was such a great guy, why the hell did he leave his family with the memory that he cut his own throat? That he'd rather be dead than be with them ? This man can say whatever he feels like on HIS OWN BLOG! Get your own blog if you dont like it. By the way, it's so nice of you to call someone an asshole while going on as Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

You are right. He has the right to be a jerk on his own blog. And it was too bad that Charlie did what he did and did not even leave a note. Still, it probably does nothing to help his loved ones to know that people are making fun of Charlie.There is something a little pathetic about having to make yourself feel better by celebrating the death of another person. and by the way my name is Meredith and I still pity those who feel the need to revel in the sadness of other people.

Anonymous said...

Ace Petrone say:

Meredith, If Charles Rocket was your friend, then I'm sorry for your loss.
However, you have misinterpreted what I said. I said that Bunche had the right to say what he wants on his own blog. I did Not say he had the right to be a jerk. That is your opinion on his statements.
Also, I read and then re-read this post and nowhere did I get the impression that Bunche was "reveling" or "celebrating" this man's death. If anything, I would think that Rocket's friends and fans would be pissed off at him for not giving anyone some idea of why he would do this.

Meredith said...

He was not a friend of mine. I am in the fan category. And yeah, I agree, his loved ones and fans should be pissed off a bit. To kill yourself is terrible enough. To do it in such a brutal manner is even worse. And to not leave any indication of why is pretty cruel. So, point taken. I just hope his wife was not the one who found him. At least he did it outside where he couldn't ruin the carpets or floor.
Anyway, I think that is all I have to say on the matter.

yasmin said...

When I found out on 30th October 06 about Charlie's death no-one seemed to know why he had killed himself.

I had to know. This sent me on a quest, which lasted 6 weeks. It's way too long to explain but eventually I came into contact with a writer called Josh Karp. He had the answers that made everything I'd been researching fall into place. He had been researching since early this year

Basically we both agree that Charlie committed suicide because of what his parents did to him.

He suffered horrendous abuse at their hands. physical, mental & emotional. He was tortured. It's too shocking to put into words & too long a story for here. What happened on SNL didn't help either.

Everything got to him & all his anger & pain became all-consuming. He killed himself in the way he did because of his rage against his parents, snl & some other stuff.

I thought you should all know being that some of you have judged him too hastily.

Birmingham. UK
18th dec 06 (0.01amUK)

Anonymous said...

How I got to this blog -- years after this post was even close timely -- is beyond reason, but after reading it and the responses, I felt compelled to respond.

Okay, Charles Rocket wasn't a shinning star, but the blogger and the responses left me repulsed -- specifically the person who wrote he was glad Rocket was dead.

Rejoicing in someone's death -- probably someone who's never done you a moment of harm -- is the depths of depravity. If you thought he had no talent -- change the channel. No one made you watch him.

I hope, for your sake, that someone doesn't say the same things you said about Rocket when you pass from this existence -- that they are glad you are dead and that you should have died in a way that entertained people.

You scrape the bottom of the barrel of the family of man.

Melissa Schafer said...

COMPLETELY agree with the last poster-commenter; couldn't have said it better myself. One can only hope that, since many years have.passed since this sad.event.occurred, that the blogger and especially some of these commenters have grown up some, even a little - just an iota,might make them almost worth something.

Anonymous said...

In 1979 I was in Nashvegas driving a delivery van for a florist company owned by a couple of 'brothers' named Baggot. They had a flower shop in Belle Meade with a triangular roof near Hwy 100. Anyway one day I happened to be downtown near the WTVF TV station, when I saw this very tall fellow, walking alone along the sidewalk, and then I realized it was Charles Kennedy, aka Charles Rocket. In those days he was a 'news' reader for Channel 5. Now I wish I had stopped and met him. Poor fellow. I find it a bit difficult to believe that he "slit" his own throat. That takes some incredible will power and tolerance to pain.