After a surprising announcement from the newsreader, we can settle down for the evening's entertainment, but before that there are the commercials, the first of which details an oil company finding new product not from conventional oil wells, but from such sources as teenagers' faces, Italian men's combs, and fast food restaurant meals - they are even looking into securing gas from chilli restaurants. Then we have the news, which is having some technical hitches with their reporter on the spot not being able to hear the studio, but not to worry as there's the lighthearted animal segment to come...
Before they made Airplane!, the Kentucky Fried Theater, which was led by the team of David Zucker, Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams, recruited up and coming director John Landis to bring their vision to the screen. It was one of those seventies comedies that prospered in the wake of the popularity of Saturday Night Live, whose sketches provided the template for, but was not original to, the rash of such efforts. If Monty Python's And Now For Something Completely Different was the opening gambit in the decade's sketch movies, then the Americans took this idea and ran with it for the remaining ten years.
Sketch comedy in the United Kingdom was a staple of television, but in America it was the likes of Your Show of Shows that had set the style in stone, except that with The Kentucky Fried Movie there was material that would never have appeared on the small screen, not even the Not Ready for Prime Time Players would have touched it. It wasn't that the Zuckers and Abrahams set out to be deliberately offensive, it was more that they were luxuriating in the freedom that the loosening censorship of the day supplied, and so took comedy into a new domain, where anything went as long as it got those laughs.
Nevertheless, this item sticks closely to what the audience would have been familiar with on television, as the skits can be divided into small screen spoofs and big screen spoofs. Obviously the news broadcasts were part of the former, with Rick Baker appearing in a gorilla suit to run rampage during the nature section, destroying the studio in the process, but then that will be back to back with a movie trailer for, say, Catholic High School Girls in Trouble, which proudly proclaims it is "More offensive than Mandingo!" where "Never before has the beauty of the sexual act been more crassly exploited!" For much of the running time it looks as if the creators could not make up their mind which medium they were targeting.
But it really doesn't matter when the humour is so unafraid to be so silly, and as a result so funny. The centrepiece of this ridiculousness is a feature spoofing Enter the Dragon called A Fistful of Yen, starring Evan C. Kim doing a superb Bruce Lee impression ("We need total concentwation!"); at this time there were a plethora of Lee impersonators hitting the cinemas, and in a way this was the best, certainly if you had a sense of humour about them. But the other segments are just as funny - possibly the most hilarious is the one which is the least potentially objectionable as an explorer is interviewed while the boom mike acts very strangely, although cases can be made for each and every one of the sections, from the JFK assassination boardgame and the courtroom recreation where nothing is taken seriously to the Joy of Sex record that comes with its own safety net for the lady or the disaster movie spoof starring George Lazenby. It's not deep, it's not big and it's not clever, but The Kentucky Fried Movie was one of the funniest comedies of its era.