Gasping For Airtime: Two Years In the Trenches of Saturday Night Live
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When 21-year-old Jay Mohr moved from New Jersey to New York City to pursue his dream of stand-up stardom, he never thought the first real job he'd land would be on Saturday Night Live. But, surprisingly, that's just what he did. What followed were two unbelievable, grueling, and exciting years of feverishly keeping pace with his talented cohorts, out-maneuvering the notorious vices that claimed the lives of other cast members, and struggling at all costs for the holy grail of late-night show business: airtime.
In Gasping for Airtime, Jay offers an intimate account of the inner workings of Saturday Night Live. He also dishes on the guest hosts (John Travolta, Shannen Doherty, Charles Barkley), the musical guests (Kurt Cobain, Steven Tyler, Eric Clapton), and of course his SNL castmates (Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Mike Myers, and David Spade). Refreshingly honest and laugh-out-loud funny, this book will appeal both to fans of Jay Mohr and to devotees of Saturday Night Live.
Myers as Kotter; David Spade as Horshack; Sandler as Epstein; Janeane Garofalo as Julie; and I played Mr. Woodman, the principal. Dave Mandel, Al Franken, and I were hammering out the beats late one night in Franken’s ofﬁce and things were clicking. We 82 JAY MOHR weren’t tipping the sketch or making it too jokey, and it felt great. Mandel knew Reservoir Dogs the best, Franken knew the show, and I know both well enough to round out the beats. All the lines I suggested were good, and they were
stomach was churning. Spade got into it, too, and began goading Chris. They both told Chris that if they had to bet, their money was on me to win the wrestling match. With that, it was on. Chris squared himself in front of me, in what was more of a football stance than a wrestling stance. I crouched into a proper wrestling stance, ﬁguring I might as well look like I could take him. I kept my arms out in front of me and countercircled Chris. Spade and Fred grew tired of all the dancing and started
reached my apartment, I felt sandbagged and groggy. The feeling of heaviness gave way to a primal exhaustion that barely allowed me to take off my clothes. I lay down to take a nap and slept for three hours without moving. When I awoke, I lay absolutely still, a practice I had fallen into so I could time how long it took for the storm clouds I would carry around with me for the rest of the day to roll into my chest. I waited for an hour and realized that the storm wasn’t coming. I wasn’t made out
camera, and said “Oops!” I was never so grateful or appreciative of my coworkers as I was at that moment, because thankfully, they were all laughing as hard as me. I would have stood out if I wasn’t laughing. Even Phil Hartman was smirking, and I had never seen him come close to breaking character on the air. As the sketch was nearing the end, Chris began dancing around and making his way toward the wall that he was going to fall through. He tripped over his own feet and obliterated the breakaway
Buddy went on to explain that as you do more comedy and spend more time onstage, your monitor naturally begins to decrease, and eventually it becomes so small that you can stand onstage and give the audience nothing but your true, funniest self. (Inevitably, I asked Buddy what his monitor was. I assumed, of course, that it would be zero. Buddy replied, “One.” “One? Why not zero?” I asked. He then leaned close to me and whispered, “I always ﬁgure out where the ﬁre exits are.” Then he added, “After