“LIVE from New York, it’s Sa-tur-day NIIIIIGHT!”
I’ve been listening to that famous introduction since the 1970s. Sure, I was a wee babe in the ‘70s but that was a different time. Kids rode in cars without seat belts, we wore bellbottom checked pants – on purpose, sat in a cigarette smoke-filled haze while dining in restaurants and we watched Saturday Night Live. As a child I didn’t always understand the humor of the Coneheads or the Killer Bees but when Dan Aykroyd looked at Jane Curtain and calmly retorted, “Jane, you ignorant slut,” I laughed. We all laughed. And then for a few seasons I stopped laughing. And then I turned my back on the show completely. And then Rachel Dratch, Cheri O’Teri, Will Farrell, Jimmy Fallon and Amy Poehler brought me back.
Saturday Night Live hasn’t always been great and some seasons were downright painful to watch but you can’t deny the longevity of this comedy sketch/variety show that was originally slated to air just six episodes when it premiered in 1975. Since then, SNL has single-handedly launched the careers of countless comedians including, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Adam Sandler, Dennis Miller, Chris Rock, Tina Fey and more.
In the 37 years since Saturday Night Live first aired, there’s been no shortage of interest in the, “not ready for prime time players.” Thankfully, every few years a delicious memoir is published and we get a little sneak peek in to the private lives of some of our favorite characters. Here are a few recent additions.
An SNL cast member from 1999 – 2006, Rachel Dratch made us laugh in sketches about the lovable Boston Teens Denise and Sully, The Lovers with Will Ferrell and one of my favorites, Debbie Downer, because she rarely kept a straight face through the whole skit. Her new memoir focuses on the downshift her life took when her SNL career ended and she found herself jobless and single, only to find love and an unexpected baby in her 40s.
Darrell Hammond, known for his spot-on impersonations of Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, maintains the distinction of being the longest tenured SNL cast member. If you’re looking for a light and breezy beach read, this isn’t it. Hammond’s memoir is a dark, deeply personal tale about the abuse he suffered at the hands of his parents and the years he spent using alcohol and drugs to quell the flashbacks of his childhood. His writing is witty and honest as he talks about life backstage the famous Studio 8H and how he fought to stay sober for his daughter.
Tina Fey’s memoir debuted exactly one year ago but I’m adding it to the list because it remains one of my favorite books of 2011.
You can read my original review here.
Bossypants is a collection of essays in which Fey writes candidly about her humble beginnings as a, “change of life baby,” her angsty teen summers spent working at the Delaware County Summer Showtime Theatre, her beloved father Don Fey (a “stylish bad-ass”) and her hilariously horrible honeymoon cruise. This is not a gossipy tell-all but Fey does dish about struggling to be heard over the loud roar of her fellow male writers, her adoration of real live bestie Amy Poehler and describes Saturday Night Live as a “combustion engine of ambition and disappointment.” My favorite chapter is titled, “The Mother’s Prayer For Its Daughter.” It’s nothing short of genius. As a mama of two including a daughter, I still cannot read it without simultaneously laughing and crying. It is equal parts poignant and funny. “First, Lord: no tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.”
So tell me, do you have a favorite sketch or favorite character and who would you REALLY like to see come out with a no-holds-barred SNL tell-all book?