Gasping for Airtime by Jay Mohr
When 21-year-old Jay Mohr moved from New Jersey to New York City to pursue his dream of stand-up stardom, he never thought 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: airtime. In Gasping for Airtime, Jay offers an intimate account of the inner workings of Saturday Night Live. He also dishes on the guest hosts (John Travolta, Shannen Doherty, Charles Barkley), the musical guests (Kurt Cobain, Steven Tyler, Eric Clapton), and of course his SNL castmates (Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Mike Myers, and David Spade). Refreshingly honest and laugh-out-loud funny, this book will appeal both to fans of Jay Mohr and to devotees of Saturday Night Live.
If I was still pairing up books for this feature, Gasping for Airtime and Live From New York would be a no-brainer. In fact, I think I’m going to have to wait until I’ve read the latter to read the former—to go from macro to micro, if you will. I don’t have any specific fondness for Jay Mohr—he was a featured player when walking was still a new and novel concept to me—but he seems to be the only one who has left Saturday Night Live under a bad cloud who has talked about it. (He’s since made up with Lorne Michaels.) It’s probably less dark than I’m hoping for, but dirt remains dirt.
Ray at Ray Harmon dislikes Mohr as a person and finds him particularly entitled in this tome, but notes that few books on Saturday Night Live are as revealing as this one. Tasha Robinson at The A. V. Club has much the same problem—great dirt, awful guy. David Chess at his own website couldn’t get past Mohr’s tone. And Louis Fowler at Bookgasm advises people to just skip this one.
Gasping for Airtime was published on June 9, 2004.