False hope is my enemy, also self pity, which went out the window when I saw children with cancer. I try to embrace the inevitable with whatever grace I can muster, and find the joy in each day. I’ve always been good at that, but now I’m getting really good at it.
Those are the words of Tom Davis, written not too long ago in a blog entry about his battle with neck and throat cancer. Today, he succumbed to the disease at age 59. Davis and Al Franken were among the original writers on “Saturday Night Live.” While Franken has gone on to other successes, including a seat in the US Senate, Davis spent most of his life ingesting alcohol and narcotics. He was very frank about that in his book, “39 Years of Short Term Memory Loss: The Early Days of SNL from Someone Who Was There,” and in two conversations I had with him in 2009.In the first interview, Davis reminisced about those “SNL” experiences, from creating the Coneheads and Theodoric of York (Medieval Barber) to appearing as a talking mime in one of the show’s classic sketches, “The Pepsi Syndrome.” We also discussed the drug culture and what they got away with then that they couldn’t do now, the disastrous “SNL in New Orleans” primetime show in 1977 that has never been rerun, and Franken & Davis’ appearance in the movie “Trading Places.”Listen to that conversation here.
In our second conversation, Davis explained how he helped Bill Murray craft his Nick The Lounge Singer character, co-created The Coneheads, and became friends with Don Pardo, the veteran NBC announcer who worked all but one season of “SNL.” We talked about why Davis and the rest of the original crew left after the first five years — and how the culture had changed when he eventually returned — as well as how much easier it was to get a sketch on the air then compared to now, and why they couldn’t help drive some characters into the ground.Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!