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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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Gasping for Airtime: Two Years in the Trenches of Saturday Night Live + The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars THE LAST COMIC STANDS UP FOR HIMSELF!!! July 2 2004
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 Life as comedy June 28 2004
By A Customer
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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4.0 out of 5 stars WaldenBooks Reader June 23 2004
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Mohr Succeeds Without Sucking Up June 23 2004
Saturday Night Live is easily one of the most interesting experiments in TV history. And it's had ups and downs. Author Jay Mohr was hired as a featured player and writer for SNL during the decline of the great early 90's show and worked teh 1994-1995 season, which is easily the worst since the '81-'82 season. And his book gives a pretty good picture about why the show goes through a cycle of great to awful so often.
Mohr doesn't waste much time in his book. He starts out by recalling a return visit to SNL to watch from backstage after he left. He's brutally honest about his feelings and about the peple he worked for, and you get the feel for how the book is gonna go right off the bat, as he describes a cordial but somewhat tense conversation he had with Lorne Michaels after Mohr became big in "Jerry Maguire". Mohr doesn't kiss Lorne's ass in the retelling, except to say that without him the show would never work, and that is enough to destiguish him from the sycophantic treatment Michaels recieved in Tom Shales "SNL: An Oral History". Mohr has an axe to grind, with cast members, writers, hosts, and often himself. This honesty keeps his book from being a generic tell all.
Mohr's caustic personality comes through the writing, but he does a terrific job of quickly setting up how SNL comes together each week. It seems like an emmensely frustrating process, and Mohr's descent into Panic-attack hell because of his own misgivings and the backstabbing nature of the process seems like a natural progression. Mohr dishes about everyone-Al Franken is an arogant blowhard, Rob Schneider can be a jerk or your best friend, the Harvard writers are snobs. He also describes how he would steal bits just to get on TV, and when the disasterous 1994-1995 season comes around, he pulls no punches.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for it's nitch
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... Read more
Published on July 12 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars New York Life
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... Read more
Published on July 2 2004 by ian gleason
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cockroach Eye View
Very much in the tradition of MY FRACTURED LIFE, Jay Mohr's GASPING FOR AIRTIME gives a cockroach's view of the entertainment industry. Read more
Published on June 29 2004 by Karl Montgomery
5.0 out of 5 stars A wry slice of SNL
Jay Mohr's "Gasping for Airtime, Two Years in the Trenches of Saturday Night Live" was not at all what I expected. Read more
Published on June 26 2004 by Mary G. Longorio
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fascinating Story of the Struggling Before Celebrity
An excellent look inside the real workings of the entertainment business. Not exploitive like "Hollywood Interrupted" nor as bashing as "Hollywood Animal". Read more
Published on June 23 2004 by Robert Conrad
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
A very good book overall. It has a lot of similarity to the book "My Fractured Life" by similar B-level celebrity Rikki Lee Travolta because of it's frank look at the industry and... Read more
Published on June 22 2004 by jj
4.0 out of 5 stars Willy Wonka for the SNL fanatic
I am so glad that someone who was lucky enough to be a part of this institution finally gave us a real "play by play" of how it gets done every week. Read more
Published on June 20 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting look inside
I saw Jay Mohr's stand-up special on Comedy Central and thought he was hilarious, so, when this book came out I immediately bought it expecting many laughs. Read more
Published on June 17 2004 by Anna
3.0 out of 5 stars BETTER than the book
I read the book of the same name, but then I found out that there is an audio CD of the book with Jay Mohr reading it. Read more
Published on June 15 2004 by Asaidi
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