I am fascinated with both Kevin Smith (for better and for worse) and the history of Saturday Night Live, and where the two converge is really a story for another day, but it involves a huge feud between Kevin Smith and Jon Lovitz, who used to have a business relationship together. But again, that’s a story — if you don’t know it already — better left for later.
The point is, they used to work together, and Lovitz and Smith also have a brief, five-episode podcast series, The ABCs of SNL, where Lovitz breaks down his five years on the show. Now, if you know Kevin Smith, you know he likes to talk sh*t about his past working relationships (see Bruce Willis, Timothy Olyphant, and, well, Jon Lovitz), and he’s also capable of getting others to open up, too.
One story that struck me as particularly interesting was in the final episode of the podcast (covering Lovitz’s last year on SNL). It was about all the controversy surrounding the Andrew Dice Clay episode. As you may recall, former SNLer Nora Dunn refused to participate in that episode because she believed Andrew Dice Clay to be a homophobe and misogynist (some people misremember that Dice was banned from SNL, but that’s not true — he was banned from MTV).
Anyway, according to Lovitz, that’s not exactly the real reason that Nora Dunn refused to participate in that episode in 1990. The way Lovitz tells it, Nora Dunn wasn’t exactly beloved on the cast, either. (And please take anything that Lovitz says with a grain of salt, too. He’s said some … things in the past. I’m not saying this is how it actually went down. It’s just the way that Jon Lovitz tells it).
A little context: Dunn said that she refused to do the show because, in Andrew Dice Clay’s set, he often said things that were offensive to women and gay people. But, according to Lovitz, Clay’s stand-up character was just that — a character. “I know Andrew Dice Clay,” Lovitz told Kevin Smith on that podcast. “He’s a very nice guy … And if you look at his character, that’s not him.” Lovitz explained that Clay’s character was an over-the-top idiot, a buffoon, and not to be taken seriously.
“Anyway, it’s the [second to last episode of the season], and Nora, uh, you know, she caused a lot of trouble and she was very hard to get along with, so [SNL] wasn’t going to ask her back, anyway. And it’s the [second to] last show, and she goes to the press and says, I’m not doing this show. He’s against women, and I’m not doing it.
And this is how the press works, and I’m telling you, I’m on the inside of this. They don’t know this story. They don’t know she’s just doing it to get press. It’s her last hurrah. They’re not asking her back on the show. And if she’d gone to Lorne first and said, ‘I don’t want to do the show because of him, he offends me, and I’m not doing it,’ I guarantee you Lorne would’ve said, ‘OK, you don’t have to do it.’
… But she didn’t do that. She goes to the press. The next thing you know, NOW [the National Organization for Women], they jump on the cause. This one jumps on the cause. They don’t know what’s going on. They don’t know why Nora’s really doing it.
… And we’re doing the show, and Andrew is like, ‘Does no one want to work with me?’ And we go, ‘Look. It’s not you. We’re doing the show.’ And he’s like, ‘Well, where’s Nora,’ and we say, ‘Well, she’s across the street doing press at Comic Relief [in Radio City Music Hall].
And I remember, Jan [Hooks] goes, ‘What the f*ck? We’re all here doing the show. And now we look like idiots, because it looks like we’re against women and she’s over there slamming the host this week?’
I mean, it was really bad. It was, like, betrayal. And by the way, when Sam Kinison hosted the show [and brought along a porn queen], Nora did the show with him. And all of Nora’s characters, they’re idiot women. They’re women that are idiots, and she’s for women, but Andrew Dice Clay? No, [she] can’t work with him.
Anyway, the next week was our last show, and Nora was back, and everyone was like, they just wouldn’t speak to her. [She got the cold shoulder.] Like, an iceberg. Because she just made us look like we were sell-outs for doing the show with him. But, you know, it’s our job! We don’t pick the hosts!
TL;DR: Jon Lovitz didn’t like Nora Dunn, who — according to Lovitz — tried to drum up a lot of press on her way out the door at SNL and ended up alienating the entire cast.
Source: The ABCs of SNL