Whit's Reviews > Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live as Told by Its Stars, Writers, and Guests

Live from New York by Tom Shales
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's review
Feb 18, 2011

really liked it
Read in December, 2010

Basically, the first cast all slept around, did drugs because they didn't know any better, and became famous overnight without expecting it. No one understands Lorne. Everyone loves Gilda, Chevy was a pompous jerk, and Jane was just a normal lady with a husband and cat. Later they adopted Bill Murray.

The next cast all expected to get famous, and hardly any of them did. Lorne left the show, and so did the rest of America. Eddie Murphy gets discovered, Joe Piscopo becomes creepily possessive of his Sinatra impersonation, and no one else has a clue about what's going on or who's supposed to be doing what.

Lorne comes back. New cast is hired, and again, expecting to get famous, they pretty much suck. Really famous people get hired, like Billy Crystal and Martin Short, and all the writers get jealous because they have to keep writing the same characters over and over again. Still no one understands Lorne. We realize that Lorne kind of likes it this way, and is probably doing it on purpose.

Most of the famous people leave, and Lorne assembles another new cast. People rotate in and out until you get to the era of Chris Farley. Things stay the same for a while, then eventually you get the era of Will Ferrell. People still can't figure Lorne out.

Aside from the clinical nature of what I just wrote, I did really enjoy the book. It's almost all interviews, so it reads pretty fast. You often get multiple people's takes on a given situation, including actors, writers, producers and, rarely, Lorne himself. Obviously there are a lot of recurrent themes, and it does get repetitive in parts because comedians, for the most part, share a lot of the same neuroses about things. There's quite a bit of he-said-she-said-he-said-he-said (because there are way more men than women), and some backbiting and hurt feelings even after 30some years, but there are also some really touching moments about lost cast members like John Belushi, Gilda Radner, and Chris Farley from the people who probably knew them the best. No, not you, Michael O'Donoghue. You were just crazy.
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message 1: by Jen (new)

Jen Did you see that this is coming on tomorrow? http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-liv...

I think I'm going to watch it, for old times' sake.

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