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Gasping for Airtime: Two Years in the Trenches of Saturday Night Live
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Gasping for Airtime: Two Years in the Trenches of Saturday Night Live

3.28 of 5 stars 3.28  ·  rating details  ·  878 ratings  ·  116 reviews
Now in paperback, the revelatory and surprising memoir of life behind the scenes at Saturday Night Live, by former cast member Jay Mohr his insider account of the inner workings of Saturday Night Live provides the scoop on quirky guests, pitch meetings, fake pitch meetings, rehearsals, cast members, live broadcasts, and of course, getting airtime. Refreshingly honest and l ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 20th 2005 by Hachette Books (first published 2004)
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Saturday Night Live
7th out of 88 books — 49 voters
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Books About Films and TV Shows
69th out of 233 books — 43 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,337)
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Mia
I picked up this book on a whim at a thrift store and was excited to read it because I really like Jay Mohr's standup.

I was severely disappointed in the story, though, because it is neither a "memoir" nor a "tell-all" book. What kept coming back to me over and over throughout was that Mohr is a complainer type of person and his friends/family were sick of hearing him whine about his SNL experience and so he thought he'd write it up as a behind-the-scenes at SNL story and find a new audience of w
...more
Randee
Once again I am reminded of the Fran Lebowitz quote, "Spilling your guts is about as charming as it sounds." For the life of me, I can't imagine why Jay Mohr wrote this book. I've seen him do stand up and I think he is a pretty good comic. I could understand if he wanted to write a memoir about his two years on SNL and slant it toward the inner workings of the show and his impressions of people he worked with like Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, David Spade, etc. But most of the book is spent compla ...more
Neil
Full disclosure: I did not read this book. I got the book on CD from the public library. By doing so, I think I got a much better product than the written book.

A few friends who read this book said that Mohr comes across as whiny, and the reviews on this site seem to concur with that. Since I always thought Mohr was a hack anyway, I didn’t see the point in reading this, although I am a big fan of Saturday Night Live. Only when faced with a long road trip did I decide to give the CD a chance.

Mohr
...more
Erin
This book should be called "Jay Mohr is a crybaby." I like SNL a lot and enjoyed learning some behind the scenes information and gossip, but overall, this book is a joke. Mohr devotes entire chapters to his whiny complaints - my dressing room is too small, the host didn't like my sketch, a group of tourists didn't recognize me in the hallway, they give Chris Farley all the good sketches (gee, wonder why, Jay!). Overall the book came off as bitter and ungrateful.
Wade
Jul 30, 2014 Wade rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: humor
I read some reviews on here and I think people give Mohr too tough of a time for coming across as whiny and/or defensive. I didn’t think he was being defensive in this book. Sure, there are times when he tells a story about a skit he wrote that did great at read-through, or killed during rehearsal, and then got cut last-minute, but then he also tells about seasons when he couldn’t write or do anything funny. He talks about people like Chris Farley like they are at the top of the list of the all- ...more
Eric
Comedian Jay Mohr's very targeted memoir Gasping for Airtime tells of his experience with the iconic comedy factory Saturday Night Live, from getting on the show to struggling initially to achieving some success to being gone two years later. This can't be a spoiler if it's in the title! Also in the title, fittingly, is "in the trenches", and from Mohr's description that's exactly what his days there were like.

Gasping for Airtime is an informative look behind the scenes at Saturday Night Live an
...more
Heather
Jay Mohr seems like kind of a dick who can't help but get in his own way. However, as I recall there are bits where he seems at least a little human.
Justin
Only recommended if you can bear to spare 20 minutes to read it in its entirety.
Lukas Holmes
Love him or hate him, the book is interesting and well written.
Judy
A look behind the scenes of Saturday Night Live written by former cast member and writer Jay Mohr. Mohr was at Saturday Night Live for two years and he reveals details about the writing schedule, pitch meetings, the good, the bad, and the ugly about the guest hosts, rehearsals, sketches being cut at the last moment, other cast members, and, of course, the constant competition for airtime. An interesting book but, unfortunately, it was fairly heavy on whining. After a while of reading about how h ...more
William Johnson
Meh. Jay Mohr is a much better writer of stand up comedy then actual books. The book means well, to a degree, as Mohr gives plenty of love to those he, well, loves.

But after awhile the whining just grates. The entire time Mohr thinks Saturday Night Live wasn't giving him respect (or realizing their error) by not putting him in sketches or using his writing on the show. He never really stops to consider maybe he just wasn't good for the show. Hey, it happens. Jay would appreciate a sports analogy
...more
Allison
Jan 15, 2013 Allison rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: non
Jay Mohr is so personable on his podcast "Mohr Stories" that I couldn't wait to read the book about his years on Saturday Night Live. It was written eight years ago, so all I can hope is that Mohr was still bitter when he wrote the book, or needed money, or something. It reads like it's supposed to be one of those gossip-y books giving the dirt on a beloved institution, but it fell flat even in that regard. Mohr disses all his fellow cast members and writers in the first half of the book, but la ...more
Paul
While research has its place, some events and institutions are best known through people who were there, themselves. The late night mainstay, Saturday Night Live is one such institution. No collection of interview-gathered anecdotes can really compare with the sort of day-to-day account Jay Mohr provides in "Gasping for Airtime." While it's easy to conjure images of a riotous atmosphere populated by larger than life personalities like Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, etc., you know that sort of thing ...more
Marty
I really like Saturday Night Live.
Plus, I just imagine it's THE place to be for comedy, which I'm very interested in, since that's sort of what I want to do.
But this just seems like the most intimidating place to be given its history.
It's just the most groundbreaking show for comedy that I can think of.

Anyways, I liked this and thought it was interesting...but still, it's Jay Mohr telling the story!
He's not exactly the best candidate for some dude you'd like to hear telling the behind-the-scenes
...more
Adrienne
Aug 26, 2008 Adrienne rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 90s SNL fans
I read this book in one sitting. I used to be a big fan of SNL in the early nineties. Adam Sandler and Chris Farley were my favorites, but after reading the book, it was tempting to see them in a different light, which is why I had to remind myself that this was one person's view point. Mohr was hired as a "featured performer and writer" (as opposed to a full fledged "cast member" like Sandler and Farley)who had to start from the bottom and pay his dues. His problem was inpatience; he wasn't wil ...more
Rebecca
Jul 22, 2011 Rebecca rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: tv
This book is about Jay Mohr's time on SNL. It was kind of a crybaby fest, to sum it up in sort of one word. Oh boo hoo, you are just a stand-up comic with not much behind you and by a twist of fate you end up on the comedy show of the world! And then when you shit doesn't make it on air it's everyone elses fault, but yours!!! He was only on the air for two seasons and this ages me, but I remember him on it. Mainly because he had a funny line in one of my favorite episodes EVER (Sara Gilbert/Coun ...more
Mediaman
This book is proof that SNL is an unorganized mess, filled with writers that don't know how to write. Mohr's writing style is a perfect example--he jumps back and forth between stories, episodes, events with such repetition that it's shocking there wasn't a decent editor who told him to rewrite the book completely in chronological order. By the 10th time you hear about him showing up early every Monday or him repeating stories about running through the streets of New York in a panic attack you'l ...more
Frederick
Dec 16, 2007 Frederick rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People interested in SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and/ or lives of comedians.
Shelves: biography, comedy
I always hoped Jay Mohr would get more airtime when he was a regular on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, but, as is tradition with that show, the more inspired the comedian, the more that comedian tends to be shunted aside. I guess Lorne Michaels is afraid of losing cast members to the movies.
Anyway, SNL made me aware of Jay Mohr. He later starred in a series with a true edge, ACTION. Of course it was cancelled but pronto.
This book is entertaining and would be interesting even to people who have no knowled
...more
erin
Never meet your heroes. Or read them, I suppose. Even if they're not actually your heroes, you're bound to be disappointed. I'd always liked Jay Mohr in a low-level kind of way; he tends to pick projects that don't interest me, but was pleasant enough an actor in them to warrant some notice. Here, though, he comes across - as is the case with most actors and comedians - as desperate for approval and Machiavellian in his tactics to obtain it. He's fired from the show, yet dwells dreamily on post- ...more
Greg
I heard about this book when Jay Mohr was a guest on the Adam Carolla podcast, and my local library had a copy. It was a nice detour from the other stuff I've been focusing on this summer. The book is far from hilarious, as the jacket and blurb describes, since it's mainly the story of how the author suffers through panic disorder and basically gets trodden on for two years, but I was not expecting hilarity, given what I heard in the podcast interview. It was entertaining and informative in a po ...more
Jeremy
You wouldn't think a book by Jay Mohr would be all that compelling, especially one detailing his decidedly lackluster contribution to the realm of SNL. As it happened, I casually glanced at the book with disdain at Border's, and ended up sitting down in one of their big black comfy chairs and reading it the whole thing cover to cover. There's plenty of dirt on pretty much every cast member from that time, which is the main draw. Mohr clearly isn't interested in preserving any of his relationship ...more
Alexander Penn
I loved getting a peek behind the scenes of SNL and how the average week of executing a show plays out. Be it from youth or arrogance, Jay comes off as a little self absorbed and entitled at times. He's admitted he was an asshole back then, so there you go. Still, I love his comedy. For me, a very interesting look at one of my favorite shows.
Chelsea
Jay Mohr entered Saturday Night Live with a chip on his shoulder and he spent his time there being an overly aggressive sourpuss. This book seems, at times, vindictive and casts Mohr in a very negative light. There are, however, a few redeeming points to this memoir. Mohr, for instance, writes about his struggles with panic attacks and anxiety in a very candid and enlightening manner. Moreover, there are a number of interesting anecdotes about his fellow cast mates in the 1993-94 and 1994-95 sea ...more
Jeremy
It's mostly about Jay Mohr's problems and anxieties. I feel for him. Apparently he stole a joke and felt real bad about it. He lied to the gentle giant chris farley and made him real sad. A book I read over a month of soups during lunch.
Scott
Books about SNL fascinate me. This was one of the most interesting of these books. It's told from the point-of-view from Jay Mohr, a comedian who spent two years on the show. He talks about the struggles of writing sketches, getting them on for dress rehearsal, having them cut before the live show, etc. There are some great stories about Chris Farley and Phil Hartman. One time, Farley was bored and hanging out in Mohr's office. Mohr and Dave Attell bet him all the money in their pockets that he ...more
Molly
This book was about 20% about the mechanics of running SNL, 40% stories about other famous cast members who were on at the same time as Mohn (Farley, Spade, Sandler) and 40% about Mohr's self pity, panic attacks and mental breakdown. It did give me an appreciation for how SNL works every week, and I watch the show with a little more appreciation for what the cast and crew pull off, even when it's not funny. But Mohr talks about how hard he had it, being an asshole and unappreciated for two years ...more
Frédérique
I didn't actually read this book. I did read part of it. I thought it would be interesting after reading Pulitzer prize winner Tom Shales take on the same subject in Live from New York An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live. Well, Jay Mohr is no Tom Shales. I read about 25 pages then gave up. I see he has a dismal-seeming sitcom on CBS these days, so looks like the story had a happy ending. Good for him.
Brian Begley
I enjoyed this. It was interesting, funny, and insightful. I thought he really gave a window into people with anxiety disorders.
Jessica
Listened to the Audible version. Pretty entertaining since Jay Mohr was also the narrator. Cool insight into SNL.
Amanda Valenti
Finally some I sight into how the show works. A quick, easy and entertaining read.
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Jay Mohr is an American actor and stand-up comedian.

Mohr authored the best selling book Gasping for Airtime: Two Years in the Trenches at Saturday Night Live concerning his time as an actor on Saturday Night Live.
More about Jay Mohr...
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