Dan Aykroyd was never better in his role as one of the original Not Ready For Prime Time Players than when he was rattling off rapid-fire pitches for weird stuff. Whether all-you-can-eat toad restaurants, the ill-fated decimal system takeover of the alphabet, or a creamy glass of bass, the young Aykroyd had a maniacal capitalist gleam in his eyes that implied a little bit about the soul of America, and a lot about the brain of Dan Aykroyd. Appearing on Late Night With Seth Meyers on Thursday, the 68-year-old Oscar nominee and idiosyncratic entrepreneur did, indeed, make the staccato, door-to-door pitch for the newest offshoot of his signature vodka line. (This one’s made from blue agave, tastes “peppery,” and, naturally, comes in a skull-shaped bottle, albeit a black one.) But say what you want about some of the strange cul-de-sacs Aykroyd’s febrile imagination has taken him down (Nothing But Trouble has left psychic scars on a generation), his was hardly a one-track mind as he waxed enthusiastic on topic after topic.
First showing up on the street alongside one of his fleet of updated Blues Mobiles (he has five used Ford Grand Marquis, all former law enforcement vehicles), Aykroyd told Meyers that his fervent hope for this new, former U.S. State Department ride is that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rode in it. (He also offered it and its twin up to outgoing Trump SOS—and POS—Mike Pompeo to “pack up his family and head on out,” even offering to drive.) After giving out one prompted, requisite John Belushi story on what’s impossibly the 40th anniversary of the release of The Blues Brothers (Belushi disappearing from the film’s Illinois mall set, raiding a bewildered neighbor’s fridge, and then passing out on the guy’s couch), Aykroyd was an all-opportunity enthusiast.
A discussion of how Meyers inhabited the infamous office Aykroyd and Belushi shared (complete with bunk beds, shower, and Elwood Blues-style hot plate) led to Aykroyd’s enthusiasm for current Weekend Update anchors Michael Che and Colin Jost. (Aykroyd himself never cared for the gig, but also praised Meyers and Amy Poehler as masters of the unique craft.) Talk of comedy led Aykroyd to enthusiastically lay out his essentials for would-be comics, including pal Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up, Kliph Nesteroff’s mammoth genre history, The Comedians, John Lithgow’s book, Drama, oddly enough, and the New York National Comedy Museum in Lucille Ball’s birthplace of Jamestown. (You can see the very motorcycle on which the young Aykroyd bombed down from Canada to New York during his time on SNL.) Even when inveterate businessman Aykroyd segued into hyping his chain of blues-centric eateries, his talk was more about the hardships his many employees are suffering during pandemic shutdown than on the chicken wings, or his occasional musical performances alongside John’s brother Jim.
Trading shots of Aykroyd’s newest skull-encased concoction, Aykroyd shared with Meyers his advice for people similarly shut-in and contemplating a COVID-uncertain future (and present). Aykroyd, referencing the currently out-of-control spread of the virus in America, snapped off his recipe for Thanksgiving, telling everyone to be responsible and not “play into the ignorance.” (Basically, wear a mask and don’t try any anti-vaxxer nonsense when and if one becomes available.) “This virus is more powerful than any CEO or head of state,” Aykroyd mused with stentorian cadence, calling COVID, “a dead zombie calling the shots.”