Charles Rocket Was Too Beautiful For This World


Suicide is the only honorable way for a comedian to die. Thus Charles Rocket, the former Saturday Night Live star, weatherman, cultural icon in the little-but-great state of Rhode Island, and guest star in scores of films and TV shows, receives in death the respect that was denied him in life.

Of Rocket's tenure in the Ocean State, the Providence Phoenix writes, "He was a towering figure in the underground arts scene in the Providence of the 1970s. He heavily influenced Talking Heads, the Young Adults, and dozens of other bands. Those who were active then will tell you that Charles Rocket, in many ways, helped create the template for the underground/hipster/bohemian art scene here and elsewhere."

Rocket's national moment, however, came when he joined the cursed 1980-81 cast of Saturday Night Live, hosting "Weekend Update," running a series of "Rocket Report" films (none of which I can recall, though I remember thinking they were funny), repackaging Bill Murray's brand of calcified deadpan (a manner Tom Hanks, Steve Guttenberg, Michael Keaton, Judge Reinhold, and many others would ape during the Andropov era), and finally taking the Lenny Bruce path of doing stunt-advocacy for free speech and getting no laughs: Playing J.R. in a Dallas parody, Rocket blurted out "Who the fuck shot me?" or some variation thereof. That action put him out of his SNL misery, and though he's worked steadily, it appears to have been all downhill from there.

Rocket filmography and Wikipedia entry. Rocket in line to buy a book. Cursed-cast veteran Gilbert Gottfried tells The Onion what it was like to be in history's most hated group of Not Ready For Prime Time Players. Another member of the cursed cast has had a somewhat more fruitful legacy.