Memo to aspiring comics: being on Saturday Night Live may help your career, but it sure won’t be enjoyable.
The author—“Jay Moore,” as a New York tabloid spelled it when claiming to have spotted him at a Manhattan strip club one night when he was in LA—today qualifies as a successful SNL alum. A headlining stand-up comedian, he’s had roles in films like Jerry Maguire and Go, hosted an ESPN talk show, and produced his own NBC comic reality show. But as an SNL cast member from 1993 to 1995 (widely considered to be one of the unfunniest periods in the show’s history), he was just another one of the writers and actors clawing to get their material on the air. Mohr’s account backs up what was recently documented in Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller’s Live from New York: SNL is an odd, insular circus, at the same time utterly rigid and completely unstructured. Coming into it breathless with excitement but riddled with insecurity, Mohr found the setup less than ideal. The schedule, he notes, “was made back in the Seventies when everyone was on coke”; it’s not long before the author is taking drugs for his panic attacks. Mohr is unafraid to come off as nervous and a little grating: the whole first season he’s just the new guy nobody will look in the eye, whose ideas get shot down, who’s always asking dumb questions and almost never gets on the air. Though tinged with bitterness (after two seasons, Mohr was basically known only for his Christopher Walken impersonation), this account is generous in its praise for people like Phil Hartman, Chris Farley, and Michael McKean. Profiles of other costars—like David Spade, who “was only on the show so he could sleep with models”—are just dishy enough to leave the reader wanting more.
Despite stiff prose, an engagingly honest look at the crossroads of comedy and dysfunction.