Last week, I was listening to a recent episode of Marc Maron’s podcast with his guest, SNL alum Andy Samberg. Samberg told a story about how he discovered SNL as a kid – he’d sneak out of bed to watch Saturday night WWF (now WWE) wrestling.
Concurrently, I’ve been watching old episodes of the Super Mario Brother Super Show on Netflix, which starred late pro wrestler Lou Albano as the titular plumber-turned-princess-saviour, both in the live action segments and as a voice actor in the cartoon. I was a wrestling fan as a kid, but came into it too late to know who Captain Lou was.
One episode of Super Mario that caught my attention involved the disappearance of ‘Captain Lou’, where Cyndi Lauper guest stars as herself. In the show, Lauper, Mario and Luigi search for the missing wrestler, with the in-joke being that Mario is Captain Lou in real life.
Sorry, what? A diminutive pop star guests on a terrible (sorry, nostalgia) kids’ show, looking for her friend, a pro wrestler two decades her senior?It was an odd story to inject into a show about superhero plumbers, to say the least. So I did a little digging, only to find out that Captain Lou and Cyndi Lauper were close friends, after a chance meeting in 1984 on an airplane from Puerto Rico.
It was this meeting that spawned several collaborations between Albano and Lauper, including Albano starring as Lauper’s father in the music video for Girls Just Want To Have Fun, and, more importantly, Lauper appearing on wrestling shows, goading Rowdy Roddy Piper and sparking the Rock n’ Wrestling Connection.
This cross-promotional effort between WWF and musicians helped pull wrestling into the mainstream, which garnered the high-flying muscle men a show on Saturday nights, opposite Saturday Night Live.
So, if it were not for that chance meeting on a flight between Cyndi Lauper and Lou Albano, Andy Samberg may not have stumbled upon SNL, and we’d all be walking around having never known the joy of “Lazy Sunday” or “Dick in a Box”.