Despite the SNL-heavy dust jacket, this memoir by early Saturday Night Live writer and performer Tom Davis — the Davis formerly of Franken and Davis — is only about 50% about SNL. The rest is Tom’s memoir of partnering with Al Franken, doing comedy, and doing hash, coke, pot, heroin, and partying with Jerry Garcia.
What’s good is that, for the first time, we now know who wrote some of the best sketches from SNL’s first four years: the Coneheads, Theodoric of York. What’s good is his fond memories of Lorne Michaels, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Mike O’Donoghue, and others. What’s good are the portions of the sketches he transcribes for us — they bring back a lot of laughs and memories.
What’s bad is that the subtitle, “The Early Days of SNL from Someone Who was There,” implies a lot more than Davis delivers. His writing could be funnier and more detailed; instead it mostly comes off as if he’s having a casual conversation with the reader at a backyard bbq, and his anecdotes just aren’t as fully realized as the sketches he once wrote.
It might be the drugs, because if this book is about anything, it’s about the vast quantities of drugs Davis frequently took, and the people he took them with — hence the reason for the apt title.
All in all, if you love SNL, just wait for the paperback.