Wednesday, January 25, 2017

BOOK: 39 Years of Short Term Memory Loss by Tom Davis

39 Years of Short-Term Memory Loss: The Early Years of SNL from Someone Who Was There by Tom Davis  (9 h 17 min)
read by the author

Tom Davis was part of a comedy pair, Franken and Davis that started in the late 1960s. Davis and Franken (yes, that Franken, Senator Al Franken) attended the same high school in Minnesota and came of age in the hippie '70s and were present at the beginning of Saturday Night Live.

I've never really heard of Davis and don't remember him from SNL, although he was primarily a writer. Near the end of the rambling, pointless book (more on that later), he reads a recent bio of Al Franken where Davis is virtually unmentioned. Paraphrasing the article: Franken was part of a comedy duo, known as an actor from SNL, here's a picture with 'a friend', running for senate. Davis seems a little upset by his non-recognition. I thought it wasn't surprising considering Franken and Davis had a bitter break up (they seem to be friendly now), and much of their growing different sensibilities could probably be traced back to the point where Al go married, had a child, and stopped hanging out and doing drugs all the time. Surprise! Franken grew more famous after stopping doing drugs all. the. time.

I was actually expecting a point where Davis would describe his rock bottom and how he stopped doing drugs, especially after chronicalling the death of John Belushi and Chris Farley. But nope. More stories about his friendships with Jerry Garcia, and Timothy Leary. He was a major Dead Head fan of the Grateful Dead.

Davis includes the emails he wrote to Franken while writing this book as Franken provided details which I assume Davis had no clue about due to all the drugs he did. Franken wrote the introduction and Davis does a remarkable job reading in Franken's voice.  All this book really made me think about was how much I'd like to read an Al Franken book, especially after seeing some of his work during the Senate confirmation hearings.

The book is just a bunch of random stories about people he knew and comedy sketches throughout his life. The sketches were funny, mostly, and Davis is still pretty proud of some of his funnier skits. The SNL stuff was the most interesting, hearing some of the behind the scenes stuff of the early years with Lorne Michaels and Dan Ackroyd.

But I couldn't sense the greater overall point of the story. He likes drugs. He wrote comedy. He knows a lot of famous people. (He didn't seem a fan of Mike Myers, who didn't seem impressed with the drug use of Davis when they met. Point for Myers, who I have recently written about gushingly.) I listened to it all, but eventually played it at 1.75X the speed just to get done. If you want a comedian's memoir from a SNL actor, try Martin Short or Mike Myers.