This weekend, Louis C.K. will host SNL for a second time. But his history with the sketch show dates back to 1997, when he co-wrote a Saturday TV Funhouse segment with Robert Smigel that distracted from the 1997-ness of host Helen Hunt and musical guest Hanson. C.K. has “contributed” over a dozen TV Funhouses since the 1990s, most recently in 2007 during the regrettable Zach Braff/Maroon 5 episode. It was almost a lot more: the founder of the Rescue Me Haters Club actually auditioned to be on SNL.
At the time, every club in the city was closing. The Improv closed, and there was no work anymore, anywhere. It was ’92, and the ‘80s comedy surge was, I mean, it was gone. At the Comedy Cellar, there would literally be nobody in the audience, and they’d make you do the show, because if somebody happened to wander in there couldn’t be no show, so you’d literally be on stage in an empty room and you had to do the jokes. I mean, it was f*ckin’ awful.
So it was like that for a few years, and I was going broke. And SNL was like the last chance, the last boat leaving, so Dave Attell, Laura Kightlinger, Sarah Silverman, Jay Mohr and me and a bunch of other people all auditioned. I remember that I was put first on the show, and the SNL people hadn’t shown up, and…Louis Faranda was trying to put me on anyway. He was like, “Go on.”
“But they’re not gonna see me.”
He said, “I don’t care.”
It was cruel as sh*t. And I think that Jon Stewart was there and he offered to go on and stall for me, which he did. But finally I had to go on, and as I went on stage they all filed in, and I remember that David Spade was with them, and he had seen me, so he made them sit down, Jim Downey and them, and said, “Watch this guy,” which I’m forever indebted to him for even though I didn’t get on SNL.
It made a difference, because I went on and I had a really solid, good set, and then over the following week Laura Kightlinger got cast, Dave Attell, Sarah, Jay, everybody but me [got cast], like everybody that was on that [showcase] but me.
I was just devastated, like it was just not gonna happen, and I had no more options. I wasn’t making a living. And the rent in New York is crushing. So, I remember calling Marc Maron, who was living in San Francisco — he had kinda begged off New York to go to San Francisco — and I called him and I was asking him what it was like. I was up until dawn talking to him on the phone and deciding, “I’m gonna leave New York, go to San Francisco to do standup, but probably segue into another…I don’t know what.” I was so f*cking depressed. (Via)
Needless to say, things have worked out pretty well for C.K., who’d eventually hook up with Smigel on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and again on SNL. Here’s some of their finest work together.
1. “Bambi 2002”
3. “The Narrator That Ruined Christmas”
4. “X-Presidents: Osama Bin Laden”