In a long series of tweets last night, Norm MacDonald posted a recap of the Saturday Night Live 40th anniversary special from his perspective, from how the writing process started, to running into Paul McCartney in the studio, to trying to get Eddie Murphy into a sketch. Gothamist transcribed the whole thing...you should read it, it's great.
And then comes Eddie. I'm standing with my son, Lori Jo, and Chris Rock. We see Eddie from 100 yards away. Rock says, "There he is. Like Ali in Zaire." Eddie, Bomaye. It's my job to talk him in to doing Jeopardy. We talk in his dressing room a good hour. When it's over, I'm convinced he'll do it. He doesn't. He knew the laughs would bring the house down. Eddie Murphy knows what will work on SNL better than any one. Eddie decides the laughs are not worth it. He will not kick a man when he is down. Eddie Murphy, I realize, is not like the rest of us. Eddie does not need the laughs. Eddie Murphy is the coolest, a rockstar even in a room with actual rockstars.
I'll reiterate: Macdonald obviously did not deserve to be ranked so low on this Rolling Stone list of all the SNL cast members.
Update: Here's the original SCTV skit (feat. Eugene Levy, John Candy, and Martin Short) that inspired Celebrity Jeopardy.
The SNL 40th Anniversary Special will air this Sunday. From Rolling Stone, a list of all of the regular cast members of SNL, ranked from worst to best. The worst is Robert Downey Jr. ("Making him unfunny stands as SNL's most towering achievement in terms of sucking") and the top 10 are:
10. Chevy Chase
9. Gilda Radner
8. Amy Poehler
7. Phil Hartman
6. Bill Murray
5. Dan Aykroyd
4. Mike Myers
3. Tina Fey
2. Eddie Murphy
1. John Belushi
I disagree with Norm MacDonald's placement near the bottom of the barrel...I always liked his stuff. And Dratch at #16? Was never a fan. Most of the original cast ranks too high...I would have preferred Eddie at #1 over Belushi. My favorites: Dana Carvey and Phil Hartman.
FYI, the guest list for the special is kind of incredible. So far, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Alec Baldwin, Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Carrey, Kristen Wiig, Chevy Chase, Chris Rock, Dan Aykroyd, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, and about 80 other bold-faced names (Hanks, Taylor Swift, Spielberg, etc.) are all scheduled to appear. (via digg)
Prince played Saturday Night Live last night at the request of host Chris Rock, doing one 8-minute medley of songs instead of two separate short performances during the show. Here's the whole performance:
Phil Hartman was perhaps the best cast member, ever, of Saturday Night Live. I loved writing for him. So did the other writers. Phil was rarely "light in the show," as the saying went.
Roles I gave him, from an unfrozen caveman lawyer to a giant businessman to a frustrated robot, Phil made shine. He was especially good at being the patient, authoritative voice of reason, gently explaining to an idiot why he was an idiot, and why he had to stop being an idiot.
According to several sources -- including news posts yesterday by local NBC affiliate sites that have since been taken down -- the one and only Bill Murray will be making a glorious return to SNL to help ring in its 40th year on the air, while fellow SNL alum Sarah Silverman and TV-turned-movie star Chris Pratt will host the second and third episodes, respectively.
NBC has announced that Chris Pratt will be hosting the season premiere, with Sarah Silverman hosting the second episode. It's not clear what happened to Murray-as-host -- it may have been rescheduled to later in the season or canceled altogether.
Go back to your homes and places of business in peace. No looting please. (via @zakmahshie)
Even as a religious watcher of SNL in high school and into college, I had no idea Jack Handey was a real person until much later. So this profile of him comes in handy (ahem).
This idea -- the notion of real jokes and the existence of pure comedy -- came up again and again when I asked other writers about Handey. It seemed as if to them Handey is not just writing jokes but trying to achieve some kind of Platonic ideal of the joke form. "There is purity to his comedy," Semple said. "His references are all grandmas and Martians and cowboys. It's so completely free from topical references and pop culture that I feel like everyone who's gonna make a Honey Boo Boo joke should do some penance and read Jack Handey."
"For a lot of us, he was our favorite writer, and the one we were most in awe of," said James Downey, who wrote for "S.N.L." "When I was head writer there, my policy was just to let him do his thing and to make sure that nothing got in the way of him creating."
"He was the purest writer," Franken said. "It was pure humor, it wasn't topical at all. It was Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer."
Come on George, Loosen up. Swing, man. Dust off those gossamer wings and fly yourself to the moon of your choice and be grateful to carry the baggage we've all had to carry since those lean nights of sleeping on buses and helping the driver unload the instruments.
And no more of that talk about "the tragedy of fame." The tragedy of fame is when no one shows up and you're singing to the cleaning lady in some empty joint that hasn't seen a paying customer since Saint Swithin's day. And you're nowhere near that; you're top dog on the top rung of a tall ladder called Stardom, which in latin means thanks-to-the-fans who were there when it was lonely.
The letter is much better if read in the voice of Phil Hartman's SNL impersonation of Sinatra. In fact, Hartman did a SNL skit as Sinatra with Dana Carvey as George Michael shortly after this letter was published. Can't find that anywhere online, but I did find one of my all-time favorite SNL skits: the Sinatra Group.
You don't scare me. I got chunks of guys like you in my stool.
He recalled a day, a few years ago, when he was driving through L.A., saw a car run a red light, smash into another car, and keep moving. Baldwin gave chase and, eventually, blocked the culprit in a cul-de-sac. Before the police arrived, the driver got out of his car -- "Typical drug-addict, alcoholic, fuckhead look on his face. He was, 'O.K., what? What? You're chasing me. What?' This nineteen-year-old kid, his eyes blazing. I'm thinking, I'm going to come over there and knock your teeth down your fucking throat just because you're asking me 'What?' You know what, you little fuck? I saw you. I'm a pretty liberal person, but my liberalness comes from what the government should be doing with its excess of wealth. That doesn't mean I'm not a law-and-order person. I'm the kind of person -- you catch the kid who's drunk and high and he almost killed a girl, let's take him in and beat the shit out of him for a couple of hours. Then he'll learn." He laughed. "I believe that!"
Things I have enjoyed Alec Baldwin in:
The Hunt for Red October
Glengarry Glen Ross
The Royal Tenenbaums
But what firmly installs Baldwin onto my list of favorite actors of all time is his many Saturday Night Live appearances. Watching Schweddy Balls and Inside the Actors Studio (with Baldwin as Charles Nelson Reilly) still brings tears of howling laughter to my eyes. I gotta bump 30 Rock to the top of my viewing queue.
Last Saturday, Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg collaborated on a music video for a new holiday gift idea: Dick in the Box. If you haven't seen the video yet, go now and then come back...it's pretty funny and you won't understand the rest of this if you haven't seen it. So go!
You back? So, my favorite part of the song is the instructions and yesterday while we were alternating between watching the video like 50 times and assembling some IKEA furniture for the office, I had the obvious idea. Ikea instructions for making Dick in a Box: