In a feature I’ve been meaning to link to for days, NY Mag’s Vulture blog slideshowed “The Michaela Watkins Club,” a gallery of other not yet ready for prime time players who had blink and you missed it stints on SNL. When researching for my post analyzing the dismissal of Watkins and Casey Wilson, I noted these brief tenures, and it’s a fun piece. It’s also interesting (And encouraging. And simultaneously defeating.) that the roster of comedians who quickly got the hook varies from stars like Ben Stiller, Damon Wayans and Janeane Garafalo to others who faded into obscurity like Patrick Weathers, Dan Vitale and Emily Prager (who never actually appeared in a sketch, so I guess she also started in obscurity). And I also enjoy that Paul Schaffer moved over from the SNL band and had a brief turn as a featured cast member,
One gripe, however: the inclusion on this list of veteran SNL writers Jim Downey (James to you), Alan Zweibel and Tom Schiller. Sure, their appearances as cast members might have been relative failures, but between the three of them they amass writing credits for 742 SNL episodes, not including specials. Citing Downey seems particularly egregious considering that by himself he boasts 488 SNL writing credits (and counting) and is one of if not the main voice for political humor at SNL . The feature also notes that Downey, “might be best known for penning the majority of Norm MacDonald’s jokes during his controversial reign as anchor of Weekend Update.” While he did he did receive some attention for this, I would argue that after 22 years of working on the show (with a few gaps in there) he had his most visible and acclaimed run last season, penning the Democratic Presidential Debates sketches that received so much press. There’s no denying that the show was lauded last season for its election year sketches, and with Downey at the heart of the political commentary it seems silly to include him on a list of all-time SNL casting miscues. And, at the very least, he might be better known as Andy Samberg’s Dad (and Jonah Hill’s boyfriend).
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Quick Jim Downey trivia:
- Appeared in There Will be Blood as the proprietor of a real estate office (with a heck of a beard).
- Uncle to Robert Downey, Jr.
And speaking of Paul Schaffer, you got any gum?