William S. Burroughs on Saturday Night Live, 1981

Today marks the 100th birth­day of beat writer William S. Bur­roughs (1914–1997). Grab a bot­tle of wine … prefer­ably cheap wine … and let’s trav­el back to Novem­ber 7, 1981. That’s when Bur­roughs made his first appear­ance on Amer­i­can nation­al tele­vi­sion. And quite appro­pri­ate­ly, it was on the irrev­er­ent, late-night com­e­dy show, Sat­ur­day Night Live. As you’ll see, actress Lau­ren Hut­ton made the intro­duc­tion, set­ting up Bur­roughs to read from Naked Lunch (1959) and Nova Express (1964). The clip itself is an out­take from the open­ing scene of Bur­roughs, a 1983 doc­u­men­tary by Howard Brookn­er, which is cur­rent­ly get­ting restored.  We orig­i­nal­ly fea­tured this video back in ear­ly 2012. Since then we’ve brought you many oth­er intrigu­ing posts on Bur­roughs, whose life and art pro­vides so much to talk about. See some of our favorites below:

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

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

William S. Bur­roughs “Sings” R.E.M. and The Doors, Backed by the Orig­i­nal Bands

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

William S. Bur­roughs’ Free Short Course on Cre­ative Read­ing

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.