The two best SNL monologues that you will never see  


Tony: ...I've been thinking it's good to be in something from the ground floor. I came too late for that, I know. But lately I've been gettin' the feelin' that I come in at the end. The best is over.

Is there anyone from my generation who actually thinks SNL is good? Or heck, even "was" good at any point in our lives? While the old stuff was ground breaking, our personal "golden age" was anything but. Sure, Hartman, Farley, Sandler, et al were "funny" at times...maybe even "most" of the time. But the real SNL wasn't just funny, it was cutting edge. It was bucking the establishment. It was the kind of stuff that we can only read about in books.

Sadly, I recently learned that we came very close, on two separate occasions, of rekindling that "not quite ready for prime time" magic.

Years ago (probably around the time he was promoting his movie) Howard Stern came close to hosting the show. Like us, however, he realized how bad the show had become. So, he had a few minor requests: he wanted to write the entire show. See, instead of the normal process of the cast writing their own skits, Howard wanted Jackie and Fred to write everything. And, if that wasn't enough, he also proposed an opening monologue that Andy Kaufman would have been proud of.

In a meeting with Lorne Michaels, Howard came up with the idea of dressing down every cast member of the show. Howard would pretend that the first skit was "Howard's school of comedy, 101." The cast would act as "students", expecting to be in a traditional skit, with the standard corny jokes.

However, once in front of a live camera, Howard would go off script and explain to each cast member why they weren't funny. He would be brutal, but he would be honest. And then we, as viewers, would get to see how they'd react. Would they fight back? Would they clam up? Now THAT would be must see tv.

Although intrigued by the idea, Lorne couldn't betray his cast like that, so he had to turn Howard down. But now that I know the story, I can't help but daydream how deliciously awkward that would be.

The second brush with greatness came when Norm Macdonald hosted the show. Now, when I said that SNL had never been cutting edge in my lifetime, I wasn't being completely honest. Norm's version of Weekend Update remains one of the funnier things I've ever seen on TV. He was un-apologetically brutal. And hilarious. But politics led to him being fired.

Some time after being fired, Norm found himself hosting the show. And his monologue explaining that ironic turn of events remains a classic:

Norm MacDonald: When the people here asked me to do the show, I've got to say, I felt kind of weird. I don't know if you remember this, but I used to actually be on this show. I used to do the "Weekend Update" news routine, you remember that? That's where I did the make-believe news jokes. That was me, you know? So then, a year and a half ago, I had sort of a disagreement with the management at NBC. I wanted to keep my job. Right? And they felt the exact opposite. They fired me because they said that I wasn't funny. Now, with most jobs, I could have had a hell of a lawsuit on my hands for that, but see, this is a comedy show. So, they got me. But, now, this is the weird part, it's only a year and a half later, and now, they ask me to host the show. So I wondered, how did I go from being not funny enough to be even allowed in the building, to being so funny that I'm now hosting the show? How did I suddenly get so goddamn funny?! It was inexplicable to me, because, let's face it, a year and a half is not enough time for a dude to learn how to be funny! Then it occurred to me, I haven't gotten funnier, the show has gotten really bad! So, yeah, I'm funny compared to, you know, what you'll see later. Okay, so let's recap, the bad news is: I'm still not funny. The good news is: The show blows! Alright, folks, we've got a bad show for you tonight! Dr. Dre, Snoop Doggie Dogg and Eminem are here. We'll be right back!

Here's the audio:

Anyway, as amazing as that monologue was, he actually planned on going further. Norm Macdonald, crazy genius that he is, wanted to say that monologue, and then hop into a cab and leave the show. Every skit would have been in total disarray without the host being there. How awesome would that train wreck be? I don't even dare to imagine. His career would have been destroyed, but man would it have made for some compelling television.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at Tuesday, January 13, 2009 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


I don't think his career would have been destroyed. I think the hardcore politically incorrect crowd would have eaten it up. Everyone perseveres, except maybe Michael Richards. There's no coming back from that.

January 15, 2009 at 1:58 PM

Dirty work is fucking classic

January 15, 2009 at 4:25 PM

Slight correct for the Norm transcript: He said "We've got a bad show for you tonight" not "great show".

June 22, 2009 at 3:42 AM

good catch. fixed.

June 28, 2009 at 10:46 AM

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