THIRTY-NINE YEARS OF SHORT-TERM MEMORY LOSS

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.

Our Canadian Actor Friend

Maria and I lived in Orlando in 1991 and half of ’92. We made a lot of new friends there, mostly Disney employees, and most from the Adventurers Club on Pleasure Island.

The Adventurers Club, sadly, is closed now, devoid of improv, comedy, special effects and songs, except when private banquets rent the place out (which I hear will cease some time this year). Our friends, however still exist. We keep in touch with two very good ones, Darin DePaul, a Broadway actor, and Mike Speller, a writer and actor in Chicago, both of whom I’ve blogged and bragged about. They are two of the nicest and most talented guys I know — and the last of the true gentlemen.

Darin and Mike. They’re the best!

We lost contact with Paula Pell, a wonderful comic actress and voice talent when we knew her. She was the first actor at the Club to talk about how she loved it in Orlando and that we should move from Virginia. Then she left Disney and somehow found her way to New York, where she currently writes for Saturday Night Live. She pops up occasionally on the show, as Lorne’s wife or, usually, as a member of the studio audience. Not a bad gig.

Paula Pell

I was downstairs in the kitchen tonight, my fingers oily from rubbing skin medicine onto my cocker spaniel’s nose, when I heard Maria scream incoherently shortly before 11:00.

I yelled upstairs, “You all right?”

Silence. Then, real fast: “GETUPHERE!

I smeared the meds on a paper towel and took the steps three at a time. Maria was grinning as she pointed at her TV. There was Genie Francis, getting married to Ted McGinley in the final scene of some ubiquitous Hallmark cable tv chick flick.

And there, in the center, officiating at their wedding, was another alumnus from the Adventurers Club, and our friend, Kristian Truelsen.


The tv movie is The Note II: Taking a Chance on Love, and you can read a little about it on Kris’s blog, Ghost Balloon. (The exact post is here.)

It was great to see his smiling face on the screen, if only for a few seconds. We usually only exchange Christmas cards nowadays, and that’s a shame, because Kris is a fine and dedicated actor, a hell of a comic talent and improv artist, and a great conversationalist. He turned me on to lateral thinking puzzles, for which I will NEVER forgive him, on the same day he, Mike, Darin and I attended a Clinton-Gore rally in Orlando in 1992. Then we had lunch at the best restaurant in Orlando at the time, Pebbles (now just a distant memory).

Please visit Kris at his blog or at his professional website, and please go to his post on IMDB to check what movies or tv shows you may have seen him in. And if you drop him a line, tell him Rusty sent you…and that Maria and I miss him!