Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller (Back Bay Books 2003)


I used to walk down the street with Bill Murray and have to stand there patiently for twenty minutes of like drooling and ass-kissing by people who would come up to him. And Murray would point to me and say, “Well, he’s the guy who writes the stuff,” but they would continue to ooh and ahh over him. Murray can be a real asshole, but the thing that keeps bringing me back to defend him is I’ve seen him be an asshole to people who could affect his career way more often than to people who couldn’t. Harry Shearer will shit on you to the precise degree that it’s cost-free; he’s a total ass-kisser with important people.

Back when neither of us was making much money, Murray and I would take these cheap flights to Hawaii. We had to stop in Chicago, and at the airport there’d be these baggage handlers just screaming at the sight of him, and he would take enormous amounts of time with them, and even get into like riffs with them. I enjoyed it, because it was really entertaining. We went down to see Audrey Peart Dickman once, and the toll guy on the Jersey turnpike looked in and recognized Murray and went crazy. We stopped and people were honking and Bill was doing autographs for the guy and his family.

I’ve yet to meet the celebrity who was universally nice to everyone. But the best at it is Murray — even to people who had nothing to do with career or the business (P.248)


Farley and this girl on the show were going out. She was really smart and pretty, and Farley really liked her a lot. But she couldn’t put up with any more of Farley’s stuff, so they broke up. And then she started dating Steve Martin. So one day Farley comes to me and he says, “Fred, I hear that she’s going out with some guy. What can you tell me about it?” And, you know, nobody wanted to tell Chris Farley that she was dating anyone else, particularly Steve Martin. So I just said, “Well, I haven’t heard. I don’t know.” And he goes, “I know she’s seeing somebody. You’ve got to tell me who it is.” And I said, “Well, I don’t want to get in the middle of any of that kind of stuff.” And Farley said, “Well, she may find somebody better looking than me, or she might find somebody richer than me, but she’s not going to find anybody funnier than me.” And what I couldn’t tell him was, he was wrong on all three counts. He had hit the hat trick of failure. Steve Martin was richer, better looking, and even funnier. (P.306)


I mean, the whole thing was weird to me. The whole thing. To me, what was fun about comedy and should have been exciting about Saturday Night Live was the whole generational thing, you know, a crazy bunch of people sittin’ around making each other laugh with casual chaos and a kind of democracy of chaos. And to go into a place where this one distant and cold guy is in charge and trying to run it the way he ran it decades ago is just weird to me (P.463)

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