On the strength of Marc Maron's legendary anecdote of being dismissed by Saturday Night Live impresario Lorne Michaels for eating a Jolly Rancher during an interview, I've come up with a way to reinvigorate the shabby icon of late-nite TV:
Turn SNL into a reality show, in which one cast member gets eliminated at the end of each week. Just before the big closing-credits bow, Lorne approaches the biggest bum in the ensemble with the dour pronouncement, "Here's your Jolly Rancher." (Shouldn't all dismissal catch-phrases include product placements?) Then as all the surviving no-talents are smiling and waving, we intercut to the eliminated no-talent choking back tears while watching the skaters at the Rockefeller Center rink. The trick is that at the end of the season the last cast member gets cut, and there's no winner, only Lorne sitting alone like Michael Corleone in his garden.
Which brings me to my point. If you want to feel a little better about your own life, pay a visit to Nick Mayhew's collection of Not Ready For Prime Time Players who have gone to their reward (in this life or the next, that is). Each cast member gets a brief bio and a pic, and the sheer weight of names and faces that are forgotten or remembered, or never were known, would move the very stones to weep (though not, unfortunately, to laugh). Beyond the reminder that the late '80s and early '90s were certainly the show's golden age, you just have to marvel. What kind of coke was circulating in the Reagan-Trudeau years that Robin Duke and Tony Rosato were two of only three cast members of both SNL and SCTV? Where is the monument to Terry Sweeney, the Jackie Robinson of openly gay 30 Rock washouts? Who mourns for (Cable/ACE Award-winner) Denny Dillon? How can so many reach the zenith of comedy success in America, and so few be as well known as even Tim Kazurinsky?
It's not for the squeamish, but Mayhew's enthusiasm can perk you right up. Who could resist this measured praise for Chris Farley: "Deemed as the most zaniest cast member of all time, Chris was one of the greatest players ever." Or this bio for for Gary Kroeger:
Gary was a member of the crew for 3 years. During his time on the show, he created characters such as El Dorko, and has done hilarious impressions of Donny Osmond and Paul Shaffer. Since the show, he's believed to have fallen of the face of the earth.
Et in arcadia ego…
Listen to the song parody "What I Like About Joe" at Joepiscopo.com.