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

Jay Mohr
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 20 2005
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 laugh-out-loud funny, this book will appeal to fans of Jay Mohr, devotees of Saturday Night Live, and young comics yearning for stand-up stardom.

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Product Description

From 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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Most know Mohr from his role in Jerry Maguire or from his stand-up comedy. Most will not remember him from his time on Saturday Night Live, a two-year stint during which the 21-year-old served as a writer and secondary cast member. Mohr chronicles those years with the sly wit he's become known for, as well as nostalgia for both the time he had and the kid he was. That's not to say things went well. He barely got any sketches on air, his dressing room was once an elevator shaft, and he suffered panic attacks so severe he thought he would die on camera. But he also met some encouraging people (Mike McKeon) and was able to spend a little time hanging out with various luminaries (Eric Clapton), so even though he moans and whines about what he endured on the show, he ends up describing the experience as glorious. Fans of the show will especially like the snippets about such SNL figures as Chris Farley, Lorne Michaels, and Mike Myers. Good insider dish. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for it's nitch July 12 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
With elements of "Dry" (Augusten Burroughs) and "My Fractured Life" (Rikki Travolta), "Gasping for Airtime" is a quirky disection of a small fraction of the lesser known years of a now known entertainer. If you like this nitch type writing, it's a good one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars THE LAST COMIC STANDS UP FOR HIMSELF!!! July 2 2004
Format:Hardcover
I never knew that Jay Mohr, the host of NBC's "The Last Comic Standing" was a performer on Saturday Night Live until I read this book. I had seen him play a jerk sports agent in the movie "Jerry McGuire" and I've also heard him on the Jim Rome Show, however.
This is an interesting read (a good but not great book) about the challenges he faced as a struggling comedian and writer trying to make it on Saturday Night Live. What is most interesting are the inside stories about other performers like Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, David Spade, Chris Farley, Norm McDonald, Mike Myers, and Phil Hartman. There are also some funny things about some of the guest hosts like Marisa Tomei, Rosanne Barr, Eric Clapton, and Christopher Walken to name a few.
What I never would have guessed is that Jay suffers from severe panic attacks. He has always seemed to be so totally in control of things and it makes him seem like a much more real person. To see how well he's done since the Saturday Night Live gig is a true success story.
For people who enjoy "The Last Comic Standing" or are "Jungle clones" from the Jim Rome Show, I think that you'll like this book and come away with a new found respect for this brilliant and dedicated entertainer.
Great job JJ!
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5.0 out of 5 stars New York Life July 2 2004
Format:Hardcover
Captivating look at show biz through the eyes of a successful actor back when he wasn't. In many ways very similar to Travolta's My Fractured Life although much more New York flavored. An excellent choice.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Cockroach Eye View June 29 2004
Format:Hardcover
Very much in the tradition of MY FRACTURED LIFE, Jay Mohr's GASPING FOR AIRTIME gives a cockroach's view of the entertainment industry. You see the big time celebrities as well as the scum they step on.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Life as comedy June 29 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
The perils of the new job. How do you get to your office if the front desk security guy doesn't recognize you? Whose jokes do you laugh at? Is there hidden meaning behind desk placement, dressing room size? What exactly do they want from me,anyway? Jay Mohr was a writer/performer on SNL from 1993 to 1995. The disorganization that produced so much brilliant comedy also reduced the comic into a panicked, self doubting mess....much like many people with their first "real" job. The difference is most jobs aren't potential broadcast material on a weekly
basis. Gasping For Airtime is not a "tell all" about the behind the scenes SNL. The stories of infighting, horrible guest hosts, and pranks are in there, wildly funny times on and off air with Chris Farley and others. It is more the story of someone trying to fit into a place where they desperstely want to belong, and never quite feelong as if they have accomplished
that goal. Mohr has a dry ,selp deprecating way about him, writing more like a fan of the show and the guest musicians, then a castmember....oh, excuse me, bit player.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wry slice of SNL June 27 2004
Format:Hardcover
Jay Mohr's "Gasping for Airtime, Two Years in the Trenches of Saturday Night Live" was not at all what I expected. I expected another tell all tome, full of excess and raw humor. I was pulled into Mohr's account of his bewildering adustment to the show's traditions, cliques, speech and hours. Full of snippets featuring some of the musical guests from those two years, Charles Barkley's merciless pummeling of a stunt Barney , and Chris Farley's unabashed attempts to make fellow cast members laugh on air it is a window on the Saturday Night Live we see today. Jay Mohr is likeable, and I found myself worrying along with him as his body and psyche attempted to fit into the wildly energetic SNL workplace. Some stories made me wince, then laugh.
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4.0 out of 5 stars WaldenBooks Reader June 24 2004
Format:Hardcover
Jay Mohr - One of the funniest comics of the early 90's and today. That's right! Jay Mohr is the guy that hosts Last Comic Standing. He was on Saturday Night Live! Yes, Jay was a great talent along with those other great comics: Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, David Spade, Tim Medows, Ellen Cleghorn and Rob Snider just to name a few. Gasping for Air time is his journey through the halls of the prestigious 30 Rockefeller Plaza. This book is one hilarious ride through the mind of Jay Mohr during his best and worst times as a comedian in the 90's. I've been a long time fan of the show since I saw Eddie Murphy play Mr. Robinson and this book was a must read for me. Plus I loved Jay Mohr on the show. That's right I actually remember him on the show. I have never seen a better Christopher Walken (an actor who I love) or Dick Vitale (I admit I didn't know who Dick was but loved the character. Then when I actually saw him on a sports news cast - I laughed out loud and thought that Jay had him down! He was a genius). And I will never forget Rock and Roll Real Estate the answer to that bugging question - Whatever happened to those Rockers of the 80's with the big Aqua Net Hair? During the time he was on the show, I never understood why he was used so infrequently. I found out why in the book. And let's just say that it is true what they say in life - it is who you know, or who knows you. Insightful, funny, laugh out loud - this book is a must for Jay Mohr fans (he is hard not to love), SNL fans and humorist the world over. It's a book of history and a comedic look into one of the funniest men in the business.
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