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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Saturday Night Live Fans Will Eat This Up
It's amazing, for how long Saturday Night Live has been on the air, that there have been so few books written on the subject. And as far as I know, Jay Mohr's "Gasping for Airtime" is the only book from an ex-cast member who focuses solely on his own SNL experience.

Causal watchers of Saturday Night Live may not even know that Mohr was a regular on the show for...
Published on November 28, 2005 by Brian Markowski

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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent book
The review from Publishers Weekly, while being somewhat on the mark, doesn't give this book enough credit. I enjoyed this book, although I had never heard of Mohr. While few of the author's skits aired, he was having better ideas his second year, and one gets the feeling that if he hadn't been so impatient he would have met success.

What I really liked...
Published on June 18, 2006 by Sevile


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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Saturday Night Live Fans Will Eat This Up, November 28, 2005
By 
It's amazing, for how long Saturday Night Live has been on the air, that there have been so few books written on the subject. And as far as I know, Jay Mohr's "Gasping for Airtime" is the only book from an ex-cast member who focuses solely on his own SNL experience.

Causal watchers of Saturday Night Live may not even know that Mohr was a regular on the show for two years. Though never a feature performer, Mohr was responsible for such timely skits as Charles Barkley versus Barney the Dinosaur and Christopher Walken's Psychic Hotline. Unwilling to wait his turn or play the political games that have become associated with the show, Mohr turned to other ventures. His rocky two season at SNL however provide a telling first hand account of how the show operated in the early 90's as Phil Hartman and Mike Meyers moved on and Chris Farley and Adam Sandler moved in. The fact that Mohr never became a big celebrity on the show grounds his tale in honesty, and makes his story even more compelling.

Mohr speaks of run ins with Rob Schneider and Chris Farley, his often chilly meetings with Lorne Michaels, clueless and vain guest hosts as well as his own frustration with his inability to become a star.

There are better tell alls out there and there are better Saturday Night Live book as well, but Mohr brings a relatable underdog tale to these pages. Anybody who's ever had to work under the shadows of others can sympathize with this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really interesting and funny!, March 25, 2006
By 
K. Kraus "mskraus2u" (Pleasant Prairie, WI USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Gasping for Airtime: Two Years In the Trenches of Saturday Night Live (Paperback)
I know Jay Mohr mostly from Last Comic Standing and his bit parts in movies. I think he's really funny and talented, so I thought I'd enjoy his story about his days on SNL. I found the book to be a quick, fun read. I really like that Jay tells the honest story of how SNL operates, warts and all, but doesn't place blame. He acknowledges that he had his own problems (panic attacks) going on during his stint, and that made SNL's wacky schedule and style particularly hard for him. He sometimes sounds bitter about his lack of airtime, but he repeatedly says how grateful he is to have had the job, and he's still in awe over ever getting picked to be there.

I assume Jay had an editor, and maybe he even had a ghostwriter, but I think the book is mostly written in Jay's own words. I get this impression because he sometimes jumps around a lot in terms of time. He'll be telling one story and refer back to a story that happened in a completely different time, so sometimes it can get a little confusing, but it feels like a real person telling a story. Sometimes you get sidetracked when you tell a good story!

This book would be great for any Jay Mohr fans. And Saturday Night Live fans will like the insight into how the show takes shape. Plus, there are funny stories of some SNL greats, like Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, and David Spade.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent book, June 18, 2006
By 
Sevile (Philadelphia, PA) - See all my reviews
The review from Publishers Weekly, while being somewhat on the mark, doesn't give this book enough credit. I enjoyed this book, although I had never heard of Mohr. While few of the author's skits aired, he was having better ideas his second year, and one gets the feeling that if he hadn't been so impatient he would have met success.

What I really liked about the book is its feeling of authenticity. You feel as if you are there, getting the job, suffering the anxiety and witness to the SNL creative process. Also authentic is the portrait the author draws of himself, which is the main thread in the book. With all the defects that the author exhibits, he still comes off as quite likeable.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wish it were longer, March 22, 2007
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An insider's view of working in the trenches of "Saturday Night Live". This book is not meant to be a tell-all book nor a production diary. Some other reviewers have bemoaned the dearth of juicy gossip tidbits in the text. But Mohr's account is open and honest and rightfully one-sided. "SNL" has long been a fascinating cultural phenomenon, and Mohr gives you a peek behind the curtain. He speaks as a lower-rung writer/performer, and is certainly unjaded by the whirlwind success that other "SNL" alums achieved, mostly because he never achieved it himself.

He fawns over a musical guest or two, and has nothing but loving things to say about Chris Farley, but the rest is basically a week-for-week, show-for-show account of how the show's inhumane production schedule brought out both the best and worst in him (and everybody else).
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ok! Terrific!, May 27, 2004
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This is a fantastic read!
Jay Mohr, as we all know, is a comedy god and this book is if anything too short. I wish (and hope) Jay writes a follow up to this book on the rest of career so far... O&A, Action, the movies he made etc.. He must have more stories.
It's written in a very loose conversational style.. You feel like Jay is just sitting down talking to you and man you cannot put it down.
If you are at all interested in SNL, Jay Mohr or panic disorders get this book. It's VERY funny.
The thing that's so disturbing about SNL is how insane the week is before the show. They have this ridiculous self imposed BS deadlines that seem to hamper creativity and increase tension. Maybe that's the way Lorne wants it?
Jay has some GREAT stories about Chris Farley.. Al Franken's temper and the other cast members at the time (like Sandler). There is this great story about him and the whole cast, Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger that is all at once scary, tense and funny.
Jay you are the man!.. and this book leaves me wanting more.
Great read!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Whining, Bitterness, & Much Much Mohr, November 1, 2004
By 
Kevin Caffrey (Fredericksburg, VA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I remember first seeing Jay Mohr when he was the host of "Lip Service" on MTV in the early 90s. When that was cancelled, he popped up on a TGIF ABC sitcom called "Camp Wilder" that lasted a full-season if I remember correctly. After that was cancelled, I was happy to see that he was a new featured player on SNL. I guess I was happy because it was good to see a young comic actor staying busy and finding work on TV. However, long before I read "Gasping for Airtime," I always thought that Jay Mohr was a comedian/actor who never really made that breakthrough to A-list, even though he had one great opportunity after another. MTV, ABC, SNL, "Jerry Maguire," a string of costarring roles in major motion pictures, FOX's critical hit "Action,"--all great opportunities that didn't last or lead to something bigger. Even his most recent sorta sad, but temporarily very popular, "Last Comic Standing" fizzled out before getting cancelled a few months ago by NBC. With all this in mind, I wasn't surprised to find a very bitter Mohr writing about his brief stint on SNL.

First and foremost, this is a very interesing and quick read. It's essential reading for any big fan of SNL. Reading about how the show works and stories about the best players in the show's history (Meyers, Sandler, Farley, Hartman, etc.) was very entertaining. It's especially interesting considering that Mohr was on the show during one of the most interesting period in SNL's history, when seasoned players like Sandler, Meyers, Hartman, and Farley were on their way out, and it often seemed like the show was creatively suffering perhaps because of the glut of SNL movies that were coming out one after another in the early/mid 90s. However, Mohr seemed to come to the show expecting to be on every week and be at the same level of the regular cast members right off the bat. When this didn't happen, Mohr discusses his series of panic attacks stemming from the frustration of working in a very tense, hectic, insecure environment.

In the end, the only person Mohr has to blame for his frustration with his time on SNL is himself. However, since he was just 23 when he was on the show, it's understandable how such a young person would react to the frustration. Mohr talks about how certain hosts, writers, and cast members basically caused many of his ideas to never see the light of day. It's unfortunate at the time that he didn't realize that nearly ALL new "featured players" on SNL do not begin to see serious airtime until their 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th years. But, as he states himself towards the end of the book, he didn't do the show to "eventually" become a star. Ironically, I bet Will Ferrell didn't come to SNL at *all* to be a star--he probably just joined to showcase his comedic ability and work in a creative environment. And look what happened. That's the difference between Mohr and someone like Ferrell--and that's why their in totally different positions today.

Mohr seems also intent on dissing the easy targets (from David Spade to Crash Test Dummies) and fawning over the "hip" (from Farley to Nirvana). He also amazingly leaves a story that made my jaw drop to the very end of the book--something I had never heard before, but made me think that Lorne Michaels must've really liked Mohr to keep him around for as long as he did.

All in all, this is a great, quick read that all SNL fans, and Mohr fans, would enjoy. As much as I think he comes across smarmy, I think Mohr is funny and I truly hope he finds that one project that takes him to the next level.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Shallow but amusing, September 9, 2004
By 
Suze "suze78" (Milwaukee, WI United States) - See all my reviews
Extremely fast read and it kept me hooked. The inner workings of how SNL functions on a weekly basis are fascinating; however, after a while Mohr's stories felt more like random celebrity name-droppings than meaningful content. Mohr's short two-year stint on the show wasn't nearly enough time for an in-depth perspective on the show's meaning and changing casts. Entertaining nonetheless, and provides some good cocktail party anecdotes.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid book., June 14, 2004
This book is a pretty interesting career move, and if anything exists as a shining example on how to turn something that could be considered a 'failure' into something, well, else. The fact that someone who spent two years in the wings of a show now has more or less the (de fact) definitive work about a show is impressive, to say the least. Very cunning.
This book is a ridiculously easy read, for reasons that are probably easy to discover on your own, so I won't belabor them here. Its conversational tone makes it really easy to dismiss it as a gossip-book (which it might still be, I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with gossip books. And neither do you, or you wouldn't have clicked on the book in the first place) but there's a lot of real humanity within as well. His love and respect for Chris Farley are well documented as well as his frustration with various people, most of all himself. The fact that he committed the theft (which has already been discussed in review) is almost as astonishing as his admission.
I don't have any major critiques (the chronology skips around a little bit unnecessarily , at one point he's visiting a doctor for a panic-disorder, but then he hasn't visited at all). Being Mohr's book, the book is very Mohr-centric, and it would've been interesting to find out more (no pun intended) about how he interacted with other members, but given the nature of the story that's essentially impossible.
I think the take home message is the key to this book, and I don't even think it is a conscious one:
It seems that in SNL (and almost any artistic field) only by writing/creating do you have any control of your life and career. If you can't, then you are at the whim of whomever -is- doing the writing. Throughout the two years Mohr spends a lot of time doing a lot of different things, but he never indicates that he spent any time trying different things to sharpen his ability to just sit down and write. If he had, I'm willing to bet this book wouldn't exist. Or at least not for a few more years.
Now finally, after sitting down and writing this book his career has taken a strong, positive turn, and I don't think that's coincidence.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars quick and easy read, but worthwhile, May 4, 2006
By 
I bought this book because I am a big SNL fan and wanted to read more about the backstage stuff as well as just watch the show. I'd barely heard of Jay Mohr, and when he was on SNL I was still in high school in England. Hence I went into the book with an open mind.

Like everyone else says, it is a very quick read, being fairly short and conversational in style. Mohr does indeed come across as being a bit whiney and childish, and there is clearly some lingering bitterness towards the show. To be fair to him, he was unlucky enough to be there at a time when some stellar cast members were present (Farley, Sandler, Spade etc) and it must have been hard for him to find a niche.

The book is refreshingly honest, he tackles most of his problems head-on, even describing candidly how he stole another comic's idea, which could have been career death. He doesn't pull any punches when describing some of his former cast-mates, but at the same time, he treats people well if they deserved it (in his eyes at least, we have no way of seeing this through anyone else's eyes).

This book is a quick read, and not worth the price of the hardback, but is a frank tale of one man's struggles in a unique, high-pressure job where the audience don't want to know what's going on inside you - they just want the jokes. At least he comes across as human.

I recommend it to all SNL fans, even casual ones.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for the pop culture junkie!, May 2, 2005
My husband brought this home for me on CD when I was doing a lot of driving. I have been a fan of SNL since the early 80's and can completely recall skits from the 90's - but not so much any with Jay Mohr. I always thought he was a weird fit for the show and I truly wasn't surprised when he was dropped from the show. I have gained a whole new respect for him after listening to him read his book. I have read some of the other reviews and I really think hearing him tell his story added a new dimension to the book. I highly reccommend this to anyone interested in SNL or his comedy.

I just wish I knew who wore the toupee.....
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Gasping for Airtime: Two Years In the Trenches of Saturday Night Live
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