SNL Auditions
August 14, 2009 3:25 PM   Subscribe

Saturday Night Live Auditions (all YT links): Phil Hartman, John Belushi, Dana Carvey (2), Will Ferrell, and Jim Breuer (2), (3).
posted by Ufez Jones (27 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

It's in the order from the post so those who hate Jim Breuer can just stop after Will Ferrell. No judgments here...I personally love Goat Boy. Meehaaheeehehemmmmm!
posted by nosila at 3:35 PM on August 14, 2009

They cut off the part at the end of the Hartman audition when everyone says "Okay, look, you're obviously way too talented for Saturday Night Live, sorry."
posted by rokusan at 3:40 PM on August 14, 2009 [15 favorites]

If there's any one thing that characterizes the SNL of the late 90s it's that they "loved the 'shut up' guy" and wanted to use that Breuer character in promos for the new cast.

Cool post, thanks Ufez Jones.
posted by Riki tiki at 3:40 PM on August 14, 2009

Phil Hartman playing a German playing Jack Benny is probably one of the funniest things I've seen all day.
posted by Spatch at 3:51 PM on August 14, 2009 [3 favorites]

No, wait, make that "is the funniest thing I've seen all day."
posted by Spatch at 3:52 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

I don't know. The Will Ferrel as Harry Caray doing a dramatic play reading is pretty tough to beat. Very funny.
posted by billysumday at 3:59 PM on August 14, 2009

Great post, Ufez! I'd seen the Hartman video before, but can't bring myself to watch it today.

I'm not completely anti-Breuer, but watching him watch his own material and cracking up just puts me off even more.
posted by ooga_booga at 4:17 PM on August 14, 2009

I've talked about my L.A. comedy club experience when Robin Williams made fun of my tennis sweater ("Hey, look! It's Bill Tilden!") But I was also one of a dozen people who stayed late another weeknight for a "very special guest" who turned out to be Dana Carvey, officially testing new material (including the "My Brother the Genius" bit which he extended to having him bring a dead frog back to life with a Little Dr. Frankenstein set he created). He stopped occasionally to ask the few of us in the club things like "You like that?" "Too long?" "Does my brother's voice sound too much like my Jimmy Stewart?" And less than a month later he had been hired by SNL, and I learned second-hand that two of the dozen people left in the club had been NBC talent scouts. A "wow! I was there when it all kinda began!" memory. (And he actually expressed an interest in dropping The Church Lady from his act, and I specifically yelled out "No! Keep the Church Lady!" Dana Carvey OWES me, youknowwhatImean?)
posted by wendell at 4:22 PM on August 14, 2009 [10 favorites]

I still miss Phil Hartman so much. He's the best thing going in this Mr. Belvedere Fan Club sketch from 1992. Sadly, some of his genius is lost because the resolution's not very good, but expand the video to full screen and keep your eyes on his expressions and reactions throughout.
posted by jocelmeow at 4:30 PM on August 14, 2009 [5 favorites]

So I was backstage at the Ritz or club 54 or whatever they were calling it, and we're all just leaving, and Carvey says "Phil, do Sinatra!."

And Phil says "I shit pieces of guys like yooo..."

Then we left.
posted by hexatron at 4:46 PM on August 14, 2009

I tried to watch Jim Breuer's latest standup special Clear the Air. I went into it without any preconceived notions of liking or disliking the guy's work. I could stomach about the first 30 minutes and that was it.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:22 PM on August 14, 2009

The sad thing about that Belushi audition was that, you know, he could have just had a cold that day...
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:29 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

nosila: It's in the order from the post so those who hate Jim Breuer can just stop after Will Ferrell.

Honestly, I stopped before Will Ferrell.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:33 PM on August 14, 2009


Gawd, I miss Phil....
posted by Jinx of the 2nd Law at 5:48 PM on August 14, 2009

Those hurt so bad (except for Phil, rest his soul).

Try searching on YT for a single funny SNL audition. You can't find one!
posted by orme at 5:58 PM on August 14, 2009

Ohh, Phil Hartman. I still miss him so much. It always made me so angry that his genius has been overlooked. The hoi polloi seem to prefer the Will Ferrells of the world.
posted by Mael Oui at 8:48 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

The hoi polloi seem to prefer the Will Ferrells of the world.

I believe that's an unfair assessment. For years, Phil Hartman was, to me, the greatest performer on SNL. Not for his impressions or his outright "zany" stuff, but for his straight man work. To me, no one was better or even as good. He was the sounding board that everyone else launched off of...a much harder job if you ask me.

But Will Ferrell, if you go back and watch his "non-recurring character" parts, has the same quality. He's as straight as a board, but he amplifies the brilliance in everyone else. Yeah, when guys like Ferrell get popular, the cool thing to do is hate them (admit it, you loved Mike Myers before he hit it big, but now you say that Dana Carvey was the real genius because his show flopped).

For my money, the most ridiculously overrated SNL cast member was John Belushi. His flame only burns bright because it burned so quickly. If he'd have lived long enough, he'd have played the dopey dad in some shitty sitcom and we'd all be talking about the brilliance of Garrett Morris.
posted by ColdChef at 9:03 PM on August 14, 2009 [5 favorites]

I'm not, by the way, trying to say that Will Ferrell was better than Phil Hartman. I think they're equally fantastic. I'm saying he deserves at least the same amount of respect.
posted by ColdChef at 9:06 PM on August 14, 2009

Man, watching Belushi's sad coked-up screen test, I think I realize why he is my least favorite: I fucking hate hate hate squandered talent. I'll take one consistent, professional John Lovitz over a hundred Belushis and Chases who piss all over whatever brilliant spark they once had.
posted by ColdChef at 9:14 PM on August 14, 2009

I don't think Belushi was using much coke at that time. He may have splashed out to get 'in the mood' for the screen test, but the real abuse came later.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 10:09 PM on August 14, 2009

I guess I don't see why people are hating on the Belushi. The sneezing looked like part of his act, he was pulling impressions randomly thrown at him, and the audience was having a great time with all of his stage business.

You ask me, Bill Murray is the most awesome talent to come out of the show, but Phil Hartman is close behind. Belushi was brilliant and yes, had he been forced to live out a later career, we might have seen the brass tarnished. But I still remember watching those early shows (live!) and absolutely dying at stuff like Samurai Optometrist. And looking at the list, it seems that he was brilliantly paired with super-straight men like Buck Henry and Charles Grodin.

Nor do I think that Hartman was overlooked. He had one of the longest tenures on the show, ever (11 years?). He created some beloved characters, including an iconic impression of Pres. Clinton. And he was the best thing about NewsRadio.
posted by dhartung at 11:07 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

dhartung: "[Hartman] was the best thing about NewsRadio"

The best thing about NewsRadio is that it was so good that even Andy Dick and Joe Rogan were funny by association.

No, seriously, I think Hartman was one of the best things about the show (including my favorite comedy moment of all time) but I can't give him the credit for its greatness. That show had the most perfectly, intricately balanced ensemble I think I've ever seen.

Hartman's scene-chewing would've just been tacky if Foley hadn't been the perfect fool-suffering straight man to it. Foley would've been a bland, squirrely character if he hadn't had to defend his place against Tierney as his rival/lover. Tierney would've been an unsympathetic overachiever if she hadn't been able to relax and share her crazy with Vicki Lewis. Lewis would've been a generic, regressive "Lucy" stereotype if her ditziness hadn't been matched by Dick. Dick would've been a broad, slapsticky mess if not for... okay, well he was a broad, slapsticky mess but he pulled it off and it was played self-consciously and it gave Hartman a fitting court jester to abuse.

None of it would've been possible if Stephen Root's eccentric business mogul allowing us to suspend disbelief. And, um, then there's Khandi Alexander. Who was funny and more than held her own, don't get me wrong, but the ensemble didn't need her like it needed everyone else, and her departure from the show bore that out.

Hartman was brilliant and I miss him immensely, but NewsRadio was phenomenal beyond anything he could've achieved as the "star".

If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend Netflixing/buying the early seasons (before Alexander left and Hartman died) and following along The Onion A.V. Club's classic coverage of the series from the beginning.
posted by Riki tiki at 11:45 PM on August 14, 2009 [8 favorites]

funniest thing about SNL to me was coming to the states and realizing the awful german show Samstag Nacht with a mullet-sporting douchebag named Hugo Egon Balder was a carbon copy sans talented actors. dude wanted to be lorne badly. the show went off the air after five years and he's still most notorious for having been the host of a late-night gameshow tht featured bare-chested bimbos.
posted by krautland at 12:22 PM on August 15, 2009

>"Belushi was brilliant and yes, had he been forced to live out a later career, we might have seen the brass tarnished."

Sadly, I think that we were beginning to see that already, with Continental Divide (Belushi trying his hand at romantic comedy, paradoxically while playing a character based directly on crusty old columnist Mike Royko), and Neighbors, which had Belushi and Aykroyd kind of switching their Blues Brothers personas; neither one did very well commercially or critically. Belushi's next tentative project was something about wine country called Noble Rot. If he'd lived, he may have gotten his shit together sufficiently to do Ghostbusters and done a better job than Bill Murray in the lead role (although it's really hard to imagine anyone better suited for the part than Murray, who supposedly improvised almost all his dialogue), or the movie might have been a hit regardless, but who knows?
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:59 PM on August 15, 2009

While we're sharing Phil Hartman NewsRadio clips, may I suggest Rap? (Starting about 1:30)
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:35 PM on August 15, 2009

I've had no prior exposure to this Jim Breuer person and fuck is he awful.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:29 PM on August 16, 2009

Late to the show, but commenting anyway...

John Belushi, sadly because, when I do schtick, I do his, wasn't much more than a class clown. His bro was/is even lower on the ladder.

It doesn't take much imagination to see Hartman playing dramatic screen roles surpassing guys like Jim Carrey. (If he was still alive.)

The one thing that all of these guys share is their pure desperation for the big GIG!

It must have been tough being on the deciding panels for these guys.
posted by snsranch at 7:11 PM on August 20, 2009

« Older Andre the Giant is shaking his head.   |   Tane Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments