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

3.31  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,012 Ratings  ·  128 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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Bossypants by Tina FeyLive from New York by Tom ShalesYes Please by Amy PoehlerShopgirl by Steve MartinBorn Standing Up by Steve Martin
Saturday Night Live
8th out of 88 books — 60 voters
The Great Movies by Roger EbertThe Twilight Zone Companion by Marc Scott ZicreeThe Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion by Martin GramsThe Cinema of Sidney Poitier by Lester J. KeyserLive from New York by Tom Shales
Books About Films and TV Shows
69th out of 235 books — 43 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,575)
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Dec 18, 2012 Neil rated it really liked it
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.

Amelia Chameleon
May 19, 2008 Amelia Chameleon rated it did not like it
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
Jun 18, 2009 Erin rated it it was ok
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.
Jan 17, 2015 Randee rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
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
Jul 30, 2014 Wade rated it really liked it
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
James McKenzie
Dec 12, 2015 James McKenzie rated it liked it
This is a difficult book to write about without coming across as cruel and mean-spirited because the main problem with it is that, despite the wealth of valuable information here for those who want to get a glimpse inside the inner working of one of the greatest shows in television history, Jay Mohr is impossible to like as a person. The book is a non-stop of barrage of petty complaints and self-victimization in which the author never seems cognizant of the fact that he was simply one of the lea ...more
Very enjoyable, quick read which covers Jay Mohr's two seasons spent on Saturday Night Live. His fellow cast members were Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Phil Hartman and Mike Myers, among others, so he has great behind-the-scenes stories. Also interesting are his frank discussions about his panic attacks and his general feeling of unworthiness during his tenure there. A must-read for big SNL fans, but don't go into it thinking it's a humor's definitely a memoir.
Jan 03, 2015 Eric rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, bio, humor
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
Aug 23, 2015 Hilary rated it liked it
Sometimes it’s hard to know how many stars to apply This is basically the book from a performer’s perspective about the experience of being on Saturday Night Live, and accordingly, it’s probably worth four stars just for that perspective alone. (In the time-honored journalistic tradition of passing on what I think someone said in an interview I heard awhile ago, Bobby Moynihan has said he reads this regularly to learn what not to do on SNL.)

Mohr isn’t afraid to ruffle feathers here, and conside
Mar 23, 2009 Heather rated it it was ok
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.
Jul 28, 2013 Justin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Only recommended if you can bear to spare 20 minutes to read it in its entirety.
Sep 17, 2015 Matt rated it really liked it
Every year, SNL adds a handful of featured players--a survival-of-the-fittest tank for would-be cast members. Everyone remembers the ones who make it, but every year, a few stragglers get left behind.

Hello, Jay Mohr.

This book gets slammed for being whiny, and that's fair. But Mohr can be self-effacing, and he's brutally honest about his anxiety disorder. All that gets complicated by a victim complex and Mohr's inflated sense of his own talent. He's a human being, in other words.

A great peek be
Lukas Holmes
May 18, 2012 Lukas Holmes rated it it was amazing
Love him or hate him, the book is interesting and well written.
Jan 20, 2014 Judy rated it liked it
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
Jan 25, 2016 Robert rated it it was ok
I’m not sure what I was expecting from this book, however beyond reading a few interesting stories about people I grew up watching on SNL, this book really just made me wonder how Jay Mohr has a career at all.
Throughout the story he complains about not getting on the air as much as he felt that he should have and that people on the show did not treat him as he felt he should’ve been treated. However at no time throughout the book does he give a reason as to why he should be treated as a star a
Mar 12, 2015 Ashley rated it it was amazing
This was everything I wanted it to be... SNL has always seemed like a magical intangible place for normies where things get done in fantastic time tables. I love how Jay put it that the show was created when most of those invloved were on drugs, the hours were created by people on coke basically...and the hours and methods haven't changed, even though the behind the scenes practices have. I don't feel that this was dishing on the show, or glamorizing it, I felt it was very logical, very true. Wa ...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
Jan 15, 2013 Allison rated it it was ok
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
Aug 06, 2011 Paul rated it liked it
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
Apr 08, 2008 Marty rated it liked it
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
Aug 26, 2008 Adrienne rated it liked it
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
Jul 22, 2011 Rebecca rated it liked it
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
Jun 30, 2013 Mediaman rated it liked it
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
Dec 16, 2007 Frederick rated it really liked it
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
Jan 28, 2009 erin rated it did not like it
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
Apr 04, 2015 David rated it it was amazing
This is the 2nd time I've read this book. This time I did it within 24 hours. Super fun times! It's not exactly a long novel, but it's no pamphlet either. If you watched SNL around the time of Farley, Spade, Sandler (and Jay Mohr), you will likely enjoy this book. It's full of Jay's struggles and hilarious behind the scenes moments that I've never heard anywhere else. Like the time Jay wrestled Chris Farley 3 times in one night in front of Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger and lived to tell about it ...more
Jul 25, 2010 Greg rated it liked it
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
Paul Chasen
Dec 31, 2015 Paul Chasen rated it really liked it
A quick read for entertainment enthusiasts, Jay Mohr tells the truth and adds insight into what it was like to be a Featured Player and Writer on SNL during the 1993-1995 time period. This book is the quick how-to guide to how SNL works. This book is also a character study and reflective piece that goes beyond SNL. Imagine being in your early 20s away from a structured environment and thrown into the world of the super-competitive and super-outrageous. I think we can.
Jun 06, 2007 Jeremy rated it really liked it
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
Jameson Ketchum
SO GOOD! Jay is one of the best comedians I think I'll see in my entire life. This book gets straight to the point and chronicles his two years on SNL, the anxiety, the unheard stories and just the pure ridiculousness of being on a show as respected and well known as SNL. A must 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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