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

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

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by Jay Mohr
     
 

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When twenty-one-year-old Jay Mohr moved from New Jersey to New York City to pursue his dream of stand-up stardom, he never thought that the first real job he'd land would be on Saturday Night Live. But, surprisingly, that's just what he did. What followed were two unbelievable, grueling, and exciting years of feverishly keeping pace with his talented cohorts,

Overview

When twenty-one-year-old Jay Mohr moved from New Jersey to New York City to pursue his dream of stand-up stardom, he never thought that the first real job he'd land would be on Saturday Night Live. But, surprisingly, that's just what he did. What followed were two unbelievable, grueling, and exciting years of feverishly keeping pace with his talented cohorts, outmaneuvering the notorious vices that claimed the lives of other cast members, and struggling at all costs for the holy grail of late-night show business -- getting airtime. In Gasping for Airtime, Jay offers an intimate account of the inner workings of Saturday Night Live, from how he learned to survive the pitch meetings by using "fake pitches," to a disastrous weekend retreat in the country. He also dishes on the guest hosts (including John Travolta, Shannen Doherty, Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger, and Charles Barkley); the musical guests (Kurt Cobain, Steven Tyler, Eric Clapton); and of course his SNL castmates (Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Mike Myers, David Spade, and AI Franken, to name a few). Refreshingly honest and laugh-out-loud funny, this book will appeal to fans of Jay Mohr and to devotees of Saturday Night Live.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Twenty-three-year-old actor and stand-up comic Mohr was playing college campuses after a brief stint hosting an MTV game show when he landed every comic's dream job: featured performer and writer on Saturday Night Live. In this stilted but honest memoir, he chronicles his frustrating two seasons on the show, from 1993 to 1995. Few of his sketches aired, and aside from his impressions of Ricki Lake, Christopher Walken and Dick Vitale, he was rarely on camera. (When he was on air, he admits, he often couldn't keep a straight face.) Mohr treats readers to some affectionate, entertaining tales of the late Chris Farley, but his book is less a juicy inside story of the comedy institution than a tale of an immature young man's struggle with a high-stress, erratic workplace: "The schedule for putting together Saturday Night Live was made back in the seventies when everyone was on coke.... Problem was, no one did coke [anymore] and we were expected to keep the same hours." Floundering in the unstructured work environment, Mohr suffered crippling panic attacks, which he treated with alcohol and pot until he finally found real relief with a prescription for Klonopin. Even panic-free, Mohr still felt like the odd man out and chafes at his less than meteoric rise. He serves up mostly superficial dish (watching Nirvana rehearse, shooting hoops with various celebrities) and offers unflattering self-revelations (desperate competitiveness, jealousy and sulking)-resulting in a memoir that will appeal only to die-hard Mohr fans. (June 9) Forecast: With a confirmed appearance on the Today show, national TV and radio satellite tours, radio book giveaways, national print ads and online marketing and publicity with SNL fan sites, Mohr's book will get plenty of exposure. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
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 toleave the reader wanting more. Despite stiff prose, an engagingly honest look at the crossroads of comedy and dysfunction. Agency: Barnes Morris Klein Mark & Yorn

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781401300067
Publisher:
Hachette Books
Publication date:
05/19/2004
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.87(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Jay Mohr was a featured performer and writer on Saturday Night Live from 1993 to 1995. His breakthrough film role was in Jerry Maguire. Other film credits include Picture Perfect, Go, Pay It Forward, and S1M0NE. Jay often guest hosts Premiere Radio's Jim Rome Show. He recently produced and hosted a weekly comedy/music/sports talk show for ESPN, and he is the creator and executive producer of NBC's hit series Last Comic Standing. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Gasping for Airtime 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
A good portion of the book deals with Jay's panic attacks and a rough first year. This is not a kiss-and-tell or mudslinging book; he exposes the skeletons in his closet more than in others. I suspect writing this book was cathartic for Jay. It was clearly two hard years for him, but his recollections are more fond than full of venom. I found some stories hillarious, but overall, its a well written reflection on 2 years of cranking out SNL skits. I didn't buy this because I was a huge fan of Mohr. In fact, I lived overseas when he was on SNL. I bought this because I was interested to know what its like on the inside of SNL. Though after having reading it, I'd say I've become a fan of Jay's.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was absolutely amazing. If you thing that Jay Mohr is just an idiot actor trying to write a book you a wrong. He is actually quite the talented writer. I could not put this book down. He goes into an in depth, very detailed, tail of his two years at Saturday Night Live. The book is very funny with a bit of drama and misery. He enlightens readers about the hard times he had to face within himself. I never heard of actor who had so much panic on and off the air. He explains how he had to deal with the anxiety within himself and the careless attitude of his fellow employees. Jay talks about how the multiple employees and cast members who continuously gave him as much grief as possible. He also tells the tail of the good times he had with actors such as Chris Farley, David Spade and Adam Sandler. He tells stories about the first time he met Farley, the time he met and hung out with Pearl Jam. I recommend this book to anyone. Weather you like Jay or not, this book will blown you away. And I promise that once you start it, it will not leave your hands.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book was quite interesting. Jay seemed to be very honest about his emotions and feelings. He even acknowledged stealing a comedy bit. Lots of great stories were told too.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book was absoulty stuiped. Other than a few moments where Mohr tells his stories of Chris Farley are the only part in the book even worth reading.