William S. Burroughs on Saturday Night Live, 1981

Let’s rewind the video­tape to Novem­ber 7, 1981. That’s when Beat writer William S. Bur­roughs made his first appear­ance on Amer­i­can nation­al tele­vi­sion. Appro­pri­ate­ly, it was on the irrev­er­ent, late-night com­e­dy show, Sat­ur­day Night Live. Actress Lau­ren Hut­ton makes the intro­duc­tion, set­ting up Bur­roughs to read from Naked Lunch (1959) and Nova Express (1964). You can watch the action above, which hap­pens to be the open­ing scene of Bur­roughs, a 1983 doc­u­men­tary by Howard Brookn­er. The com­plete film is list­ed in our col­lec­tion of 450 Free Movies Online (look under Doc­u­men­taries), along with a 1997 BBC doc­u­men­tary on the author. For more good video ded­i­cat­ed to Bur­roughs, don’t miss the fol­low­ing:

William S. Bur­roughs Reads His First Nov­el, Junky (find it also in our col­lec­tion of Free Audio Books)

“The Thanks­giv­ing Prayer,” Read by William S. Bur­roughs and Shot by Gus Van Sant

Gus Van Sant Adapts William S. Bur­roughs’ The Dis­ci­pline of D.E.: An Ear­ly 16mm Short

William S. Bur­roughs on the Art of Cut-up Writ­ing

via @BrainPicker

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Comments (2)
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  • Know­ing­ness , above not know­ing per se @ hav­ing read and with it ‘no prob­lem’ seems to be the ulti­mate ide­al. Stay with peace

  • Jason says:

    Inter­est­ing that the music at the end is East St Louis Too­dle-oo, which was lat­er cov­ered by Steely Dan, who took their name from Naked Lunch. Nice tie-in. Kudos to whomev­er put the vid togeth­er.

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