It’s been decades since he stood on the fabled stage that so many comedy greats have called home. But come Sunday, Sen. Al Franken plans to be back in Studio 8H to help commemorate the 40th anniversary of "Saturday Night Live."
The Minnesota Democrat, who spent a combined 15 seasons writing for and performing on the sketch comedy juggernaut, told HOH he expects to make the trek to 30 Rockefeller Plaza to watch the live, three-hour reunion show (scheduled to air on Feb. 15 at 8 p.m.). “The whole experience was wonderful,” Franken said when pressed about the most memorable moments from over a decade spent with the “Not Ready for Prime Time Players.” According to IMDB, Franken appeared in nearly 100 episodes of the topical comedy show — a career marked by critical acclaim, controversy and self-discovery.
The Emmy-award winning contributor in 1981 savaged the NBC brass for messing with the show he had worked so hard to nurture.
“It’s clearly time to yank this tired old format off the air,” Franken espoused during a “Weekend Update” segment wherein he eviscerated management for bungling the continuity of SNL following the departure of show creator Lorne Michaels, who eventually found his way back to the show.
Years before drawing a paycheck from Air America for needling politicians, Franken made sport of the dismal state of congressional affairs as a special correspondent for SNL.
“That’s a negative ad,” a grinning Franken proclaims after wrapping a report on the 1994 midterm elections featuring wildly inappropriate spots lampooning then-Senate hopeful Mitt Romney, the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the late New York Gov. Mario Cuomo.
Sometimes he went the other way, turning that acerbic wit inward — like he did in September 1991 while chatting with His Airness, Michael Jordan, about performance anxiety.
“Believe me I know what’s it like, laying there awake, all those tapes rolling. ‘I’m a fraud. Tomorrow I’m going to be exposed for what I am, a big imposter.’ I just want to curl up and lay in bed all day and eat Fig Newtons,” Franken’s insanely sensitive counterpart, Stuart Smalley, overshares with the legendary Chicago Bull (and future Washington Wizard).
Smalley may have been good enough to secure Franken plenty of screen time, but history has been far less kind. Smalley did not make VH1’s ranking of the "15 Most Iconic SNL Characters ." (He was bounced from the roster by that other motivational speaker, Matt Foley .)
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