Saturday Night Listens

SATURDAY NIGHT LISTENS

Get ready for the new season with behind-the-scenes tales from the legendary show.
I’m just a few years younger than Saturday Night Live, which is gearing up to air its 44th season this fall. Maybe that’s why I’m so intimately familiar with just about every iteration of its cast and skits, including personal favorites like Buckwheat, Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, and last season’s ridiculous Diner Lobster. But the show that brings us reliable weekend laughs has also seen its share of tragedy, from addiction and illness to diversity issues and the too-soon deaths of some of its brightest stars. Along with Live From New York, the definitive oral account of the show’s history, I find that personal memoirs of cast members and guests tell a nuanced side of the story, often in the very voices of those who were there. Plus, some standout multicast comedies starring SNL alums were way too good to not include, so if you’re looking for something to tide you over while the show is on summer hiatus, you can start right there.—Kat, Audible Editor
    • Tales of Stand-up, Saturday Night Live, and Other Mind-Altering Mayhem
    • By: Darrell Hammond
    • Narrated by: Darrell Hammond
    • Length: 8 hrs and 45 mins
    • Release date: 08-07-18
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 665 ratings
    • Spoken Like a True Comedian
    • I have a fierce attachment to both recovery memoirs and the work of SNL regular Darrell Hammond, the show’s most frequently appearing cast member and easily one of the most versatile. (He’s also an insanely talented impressionist who, no joke, delivers the preferred Donald Trump impersonation of the president himself.) His behind-the-scenes stories from Rockefeller Center join intimate reflections on abuse, addiction, and sobriety, making this a memoir that’s both deeply felt and always entertaining.
    • A Biography in Three Acts
    • By: Tom Farley, Tanner Colby
    • Narrated by: Therese Plummer, L. J. Ganser, Mark Boyett
    • Length: 9 hrs and 51 mins
    • Release date: 07-31-13
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 1,461 ratings
    • Listen to This One in a Van Down by the River
    • I think we can all agree that Matt Foley, motivational speaker, was the greatest SNL sketch of all time. Though the bit was written by Bob Odenkirk (Mr. Show, Better Call Saul), the hyperactive, thrice-divorced sad sack living “in a van down by the river” would surely not have achieved GOAT status without the inimitable Chris Farley. (In fact, the pair originally came up with the gag in their days together at Second City.) But though Farley’s ability to entertain was second to none, he was plagued by personal demons, and after three years of sobriety, he relapsed into drugs and alcohol and, just like his idol John Belushi, lost his battle far too soon. Co-edited by Farley’s brother, this riveting biography is an essential tribute to a comedy genius.
    • By: David Spade
    • Narrated by: David Spade
    • Length: 6 hrs and 12 mins
    • Release date: 07-19-18
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 7,153 ratings
    • SNL’s Smirky Star Grows Up (Kinda)
    • We can’t talk about Chris Farley without mentioning his good friend David Spade (that was him helplessly breaking character to crack up at Matt Foley’s antics). One of my favorite Weekend Update hosts ever, Spade is now a 50-something, a fact that simultaneously makes me feel really old and also curious about how the ultimate class clown is handling middle age. Turns out, his finely honed sarcasm is as sharp as ever in his audio original, Polaroid Guy in a Snapchat World. Written and performed just for Audible, this hysterical memoir of dating, the internet, fame, and fatherhood finds Spade not over the hill, but at the top of his game.
    • By: Tiffany Haddish
    • Narrated by: Tiffany Haddish
    • Length: 6 hrs and 29 mins
    • Release date: 12-05-17
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 31,753 ratings
    • The Scene-Stealing Guest Host
    • One of the darker sides of SNL’s past is its history of underrepresentation, particularly regarding women of color. When Tiffany Haddish made history in 2017 as the first African-American female standup to host the show in its 43 seasons, her appearance was long overdue—and instantly legendary. Stealing the show with an iconic monologue and an equally iconic Alexander McQueen dress, Haddish is credited with reviving the show during a a lackluster season, and is now up for an Emmy for the episode (prediction: 🏆). One of her characters on the episode, the last black unicorn, is also the name of her memoir, a hilarious and heartbreaking account of a star who is only continuing to rise.
    • A Comic's Life
    • By: Steve Martin
    • Narrated by: Steve Martin
    • Length: 4 hrs and 2 mins
    • Release date: 11-01-07
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 11,289 ratings
    • Memoir of a Wild and Crazy Guy
    • Despite the off-the-wall, absurd zaniness of his early standup, Steve Martin has always been the thinking person’s comedian: he’s a noted bluegrass musician, playwright, art collector, and the author of some excellent fiction. But his legendary SNL skits—like the Festrunk Brothers, a bit where he and Dan Aykroyd played two “wild and crazy guys” from Czechoslovakia in the ’70s—always hit the high mark of hilarity. His comedy memoir is the pinnacle of the form, and his angle of “why I did stand-up and why I walked away” rings a very modern chord for fans of Hannah Gadsby, who expresses a similar sentiment in her 2018 breakout show Nanette.
    • By: Julia Sweeney
    • Narrated by: Julia Sweeney
    • Length: 2 hrs and 6 mins
    • Release date: 12-04-06
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 1,956 ratings
    • The Truth Teller with a Light Touch
    • More than a decade before Tig Notaro’s explosive “Hello, I have cancer” set, Julia Sweeney did a one-woman show, God Said Ha, about her personal experiences with the disease. She followed that up with this equally thoughtful and refreshing reckoning of her relationship with God and religion, which became a viral This American Life episode, a TED talk, and an essential Audible memoir. If you only know Sweeney as Pat, the androgynous ’90s SNL character, you must run, not walk, to this moving, uplifting monologue that’s also legitimately hilarious.
    • By: Bob Newhart
    • Narrated by: Will Ferrell, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, Judd Apatow, Conan O'Brien, Sarah Silverman, Marc Maron
    • Length: 3 hrs and 34 mins
    • Release date: 07-18-18
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 12,379 ratings
    • Behind the Scenes with Old Friends
    • Bob Newhart has never had to say or do much to put me in stitches. That’s part of why this riveting comedy special knocked me sideways when it arrived—I forgot about how his genial, gentle manner could leave me suddenly gasping with laughter. Here, Bob reminisces over old stories and reflects on the craft of comedy with some of his favorite funny pals, including former SNL talents Conan O’Brien, Sarah Silverman, and Will Ferrell. Already a listener favorite after its release last month, Hi Bob! is the perfect comedy roundtable to tide you over till SNL returns this fall.
    • By: Gilda Radner
    • Narrated by: Gilda Radner
    • Length: 3 hrs and 2 mins
    • Release date: 05-11-00
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 363 ratings
    • The Lovable Pioneer Who Broke Our Hearts
    • Please look past the eyesore of this cover and get to know the original SNL cast member who paved the way for future female stars like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Kristen Wiig. Joyously weird, deeply authentic, and scarily talented—Lorne Michaels allegedly had her reel off what she'd eaten that day when they needed to fill some airtime—Gilda Radner endeared herself to the world with characters like Roseanne Roseannadanna and Emily Litella. But her story, which included battles with an eating disorder and the ovarian cancer that ended her life, was heartbreaking, too. The fact that she wrote and recorded her memoir just before she died makes this final performance all the more unforgettable.

Don't Miss These Multicast Comedies Starring SNL Alums

Bad Reception By: Justin Michael, Eric Martin
“This delightfully weird, wholly unscripted Audible Original tells the story of a fictional town entirely through phone calls. Starring a cast of more than 40 comedians, including current SNL star Kyle Mooney, it’s really out there—and really hilarious.”
The Motherf--ker with the Hat By: Stephen Adly Guirgis
“Stephen Adly Guirgis’s play about addiction, love, and explosive anger doesn’t exactly sound like side-splitting comedy, but the performances, including that of SNL alum Chris Rock, make this a hilarious theatrical masterpiece.”
Dr. Katz: The Audiobook By: Jonathan Katz, Laura Silverman, H. Jon Benjamin, Dom Irrera, Erica Rhodes, Laura Kightlinger, Rick Overton
“The doctor is in! Weekend Update host Kevin Nealon is Jonathan Katz’s first patient in this hilarious revival of the ’90s classic, starring both original (H. Jon Benjamin, Laura Silverman) and new (Wanda Sykes, David Cross) talent.”