Posts tagged as michael o’donoghue

Me and Mike O'Donoghue

The heavy door to the office slowly creaked open, and in stepped Michael O'Donoghue.

He wore a mustard-colored overcoat with matching fedora. His glasses were clear, both frame and lenses. He had a pencil-thin mustache. He quickly assessed the cluttered office, smirked, then lit a long brown cigarette.

An office mate of mine quietly protested, but did nothing. I walked up to Michael, introduced myself, then led him to a back room where we talked for a couple of hours.

Michael was effusive, generous, funny, serious. He read some jokes he had recently written, and naturally I laughed. It didn't matter what he read; the fact that Michael O'Donoghue was [...]

The Lost Projects of Michael O'Donoghue

Lost Roles is a weekly column taking a different comedian, actor, or writer each week and exploring all of their movie and TV projects that almost happened but didn't.

This week, we turn our attention to Michael O'Donoghue, one of the major creative forces behind National Lampoon magazine and Saturday Night Live during the two comedy franchises' 1970s heydays. After leaving his job as SNL's head writer in 1978, O'Donoghue began working on a variety of movie projects, but given the sluggish nature of the film industry and the fact that O'Donoghue's work is often too daring and edgy for mainstream audiences, most of the movies he wrote never [...]

Saturday Night Live Debuted 35 Years Ago Today

This is the 35th anniversary season of SNL, yes, but it was 35 years ago today that the show actually debuted. Its first episode was hosted by George Carlin and had two musical guests: Billy Preston and Janis Ian.

Above is the cold open from that first episode, featuring John Belushi and head writer Michael O'Donoghue and ending with Chevy Chase saying "Live, from New York, it's Saturday Night!" for the first time.

Saturday Night's Children: Michael O'Donoghue (1975)

Saturday Night Live has been home to over a hundred cast members throughout the past 39 years. In our column Saturday Night’s Children, we present the history, talent, and best sketches of one SNL cast member every other week for your viewing, learning, and laughing pleasure.

It's been almost twenty years to the day since the death of Michael O'Donoghue, one of comedy's darkest, most demented figures and a major creative force behind National Lampoon magazine and SNL during their formative years. Dennis Perrin's 1998 biography of O'Donoghue attributes a quote to him: "Making people laugh is the lowest form of comedy." Indeed O'Donoghue's highest comedy goal, also in his own words — once [...]

The Lost Roles of Bill Murray, Part Two

It's the one-year anniversary of "Lost Roles," the column where we take a different comedian, comedy writer, or comedic performer each week and dive deep into the movie and TV projects they almost became involved with but didn't. This column began with "The Lost Roles of Bill Murray."Even though that piece detailed over 25 roles Murray almost played, there were still enough left to easily fill another post.

As you may know, Bill Murray's never been keen to the fakeness of the movie industry, so much so that he fired his agent and manager years ago and only takes offers via a voicemail system that's hooked up to [...]

Catherine O'Hara Says Michael O'Donoghue Didn't Really Scare Her Away from 'SNL'

Living comedy legend Catherine O'Hara went on Marc Maron's WTF podcast this week for an in-depth interview, and she ended up setting the record straight on the time she was hired to be a cast member on Saturday Night Live in 1981 and abruptly left. In the SNL oral history, Live from New York, which O'Hara was not interviewed for, executive producer Dick Ebersol said this:

"I'd hired Catherine O'Hara. It had taken a lot to lure her, because live was not her style. So in that very first meeting with Michael, when he was telling everybody the show was shit, and spraying all over the writers' [...]

"Let me close with the sincere hope that you and everyone you love catches rectal cancer and dies screaming."

Michael O'Donoghue, SNL's first head writer, wasn't known for pulling punches or sugarcoating his opinions. That's made especially clear in this letter that he wrote to the Los Angeles Herald-Tribune's Gregg Kilday in 1985 after he mistakenly attributed the lousy sketches of that season's premiere show (Lorne's first back after a five-year absence) to O'Donoghue, who had only been hired back to write pre-taped short films (none of which were ever shot or aired before he was fired). Dug up by O'Donoghue biographer Dennis Perrin, the letter is a thing of exquisite brutality. A taste: