Live From New York Book Excerpt-

BILLY CRYSTAL: Then we get to the Friday night. We had a run-through for a live audience and some NBC executives. Now my routine was an audience participation piece and it utilized Don Pardo and it was this African safari thing with sound effects. I played Victor Mature - it's not going to sound funny - walking across the camp in Africa to knock the tarantula spider off Rita Hayworth's chest. So that was the setup. Don Pardo, who we never saw on camera, had his hands in a big bowl of potato chips, and every time I took a step, Don would crunch the potato chips so it was like this whole sound effects thing. It was really funny on Friday night. And it ran six, six and a half minutes, because it took a long time to explain it. But there were laughs in the explanation and then the piece just sort of went on its own. And Friday night, it was the comedy highlight of the night, and I thought, "I'm in great shape here." George Carlin's hosting this new show and I knew everybody in the show and this is going to be sensational. Lorne sent in notes after the Friday night run-through and he said to me, "I need two minutes." And I said, "Cut two minutes?" And he said, "No, I need two minutes. All you get is two minutes." So it was a drastic cut in the piece, and frankly as a new performer then I didn't have a little hunk like Andy Kaufman's Mighty Mouse. I didn't have a two-minute thing that I could plug into the show, and I didn't have a stand-up piece that felt like what the show should be that I could have scored in two or three minutes. So we had a big dilemma. And after being involved with Lorne and the show for so long, we were all kind of confused as to what to do. And then when we saw the rundown, they had put me on at five to one. The last five minutes of the show, how can you score? This wasn't what we had talked about. So my representatives said they were going to come in on Saturday and talk to Lorne.

LORNE MICHAELS: Buddy was a strong advocate for Billy, and I think what I objected to was him telling me what I should cut as opposed to just making the pro-Billy case. He made the who-was-funnier case, which was not a good thing to do. He said I should cut Andy Kaufman. I probably didn't have the nerve to cut Carlin. One, he was our host, and two, he'd lent his name to the show, which was, at the time, a big deal. I think Andy, because he was surreal and there was nothing else like him on the show, had the edge. Albert had submitted his first film, which was thirteen minutes long. Fortunately he also submitted his second one, which was a lot shorter, and that was the one we ran. I thought Billy was really funny, or else I wouldn't have put him on the show. But I also thought that he was the one thing we could hold, the one thing we had the most of - stand-up comedy, because of Carlin. Buddy turned everything into high drama. It became very heated.

BUDDY MORRA: We took him off the show Saturday because they weren't living up to what we had agreed to. Jack Rollins and I decided if we couldn't get what we were promised early on, we would take Billy off the show. Earlier in the week, I had said just that to Barbara Gallagher, who was the associate producer. The piece was supposed to run about six minutes or five and a half minutes, and it just wouldn't work in any less time. You could shave a few seconds off, but that would be about it.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...