I recently finished reading a book on the history of Saturday Night Live. It’s called Live From New York and walks through the creation and evolution of the show. The book is longer than I realized and also proved tougher to read. That’s because it’s quote after quote from different people. While it’s tricky to get into the flow of reading it, taken together it provides loads of behind-the-scenes perspective into a cultural icon.
My favorite quote:
“When I came here Lorne told me, ‘We donâ€™t go on the air because the showâ€™s ready, we go on because itâ€™s eleven-thirty.'” Darrell Hammond
That’s an incredibly profound look into the creative process. At some point it’s got to go out. Anyone who has ever tried to produce something knows this tension.
One of the most insightful parts of the book was the perspective on fame. SNL is known for catapulting comics from obscurity to multimillion dollar movie deals. As such, there have been quite a few people who have gained fame from the show.
“When you become famous, youâ€™ve got like a year or two where you act like a real asshole. You canâ€™t help yourself. It happens to everybody. Youâ€™ve got like two years to pull it together â€” or itâ€™s permanent.” Bill Murray
â€œWhen you become famous, you donâ€™t change, everybody else does.â€ Kirk Douglas
“Fame is such a weird and distorting thing. Iâ€™ve thought a lot about it, and my theory is that you kind of stop growing at the age you are when you become famous. Because what happens is, people start removing all your obstacles, and if you have no obstacles you donâ€™t know who you are. You donâ€™t have real perspective on the problems that face you in life, how to surmount them, and what kind of character you have.” Gwyneth Paltrow
There were also some interesting thoughts on loyalty from the producer of the show himself.
“Quite often the least talented are the ones who most want you to know how loyal they are.” Lorne Michaels
“Very often the least talented people are the very first to declare undying loyalty. Because the other people have more choices. To me it isnâ€™t that people shouldnâ€™t leave or that itâ€™s a betrayal to leave, because I think people have an obligation to their own talent and to express it. The more artistic they are, generally the more restless they are anyway.” Lorne Michaels
Here are some other favorite quotes with no particular category:
“No one goes to Hollywood for the right reasons. No one goes to Hollywood to meet their future husband or wife and buy a house and have kids. They all go to Hollywood because theyâ€™re kind of damaged and thereâ€™s something theyâ€™re searching for.” Fred Wolf
“Pretty good rule of thumb: If youâ€™re laughing when youâ€™re writing it, it will be funny.” Barry Blaustein
“Pretty good rule of thumb: If youâ€™re laughing when youâ€™re writing it, it will be funny.”Click to tweet
“We wanted to redefine comedy the way the Beatles redefined what being a pop star was. That required not pandering, and it also required removing neediness, the need to please. It was like, weâ€™re only going to please those people who are like us. The presumption was there were a lot of people like us. And that turned out to be so.” Lorne Michaels