Gasping for Airtime: Two Years in the Trenches of Saturday Night Live Paperback – Jul 20 2005
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
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!
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.
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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 morePublished on July 12 2004
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 morePublished on July 2 2004 by ian gleason
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 morePublished on June 29 2004 by Karl Montgomery
Jay Mohr's "Gasping for Airtime, Two Years in the Trenches of Saturday Night Live" was not at all what I expected. Read morePublished on June 26 2004 by Mary G. Longorio
An excellent look inside the real workings of the entertainment business. Not exploitive like "Hollywood Interrupted" nor as bashing as "Hollywood Animal". Read morePublished on June 23 2004 by Robert Conrad
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 morePublished on June 22 2004 by jj
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 morePublished on June 20 2004