The above people are Michael O'Donoghue and Anne Beatts. Two writers and sometimes performers in the legendary first seasons of the show. They were also a couple, apparently. Everything you read about "Mr. Mike" is that he was something of a psychopath. Certainly mean. Deliberately cruel. His comedy was acidly black. Misanthropic to the point of futility. Also, ground-breaking and utterly unique. I would credit him with inventing post-modern cruelty based comedy which lives on and on (I don't think Family Guy or South Park would exist if we hadn't had Mr. Mike). As a performer though, he was somewhat one-note. And he wasn't easy to look at. He had the appearance of a hip mortician out for a night of creeping people out at a fashionable discotheque. And he had THE WORST COMB-OVER in the history of show business. Maybe that's what he was so mad about. It was almost like he was daring people to make fun of his hair so he could cut them down with a withering insult.
Anne Beatts was in this memorable sketch; one of my all-time favorites:
One of my first jobs in Hollywood was as a receptionist at a "boutique" literary agency. Anne Beatts happened to be a client. One day I was asked to stay late because Ms. Beatts was going to be coming by to pick up a manuscript or something. I remember I was the only person in the office. It was actually dark out by the time she arrived. I buzzed her in and she came up the stairs. I was excited! Here was someone I looked up to. Admired. Had supplied me with many hours of entertainment. Had helped me get through some awkward teen-age years. She didn't speak. She knew I knew she was there to pick up the package; so she basically just put her hand out in a "gimme" gesture. Now, I'm pretty shy. Back then even more so; especially around "celebrities." But I couldn't just let her leave without saying something. "Oh," I said, dumbly reading her name off the package, "you're Anne Beatts! From Saturday Night Live..." "Yeah." As in "Yeah, so?" She was so disinterested in me as an actual human being, living and breathing on the planet Earth, that I was stunned into silence. She took the package and left. I don't think she even said "thank you" or "good night." I mean, maybe she'd had a bad day. But she knew I was still in the office waiting for her ass. You think she might've been able to muster an "Oh, you're a fan of the show?" or "Are you interested in comedy?" But as Belushi would've said:
Of course not everyone in showbusiness is mean. In my experiences, most of the in front of the camera people were quite nice. Well, maybe more...quiet. I gave a lot of golf cart rides to actors. Most of them were across the board quiet. Pleasant smiles but zero words. Like I said, I was shy. It's not like I tried to chat any of them up. But who would've thought Dylan McDermott was an introvert? Well, me, for one. A lot of actors are introverts. I think that's what gets them into acting. It's a way to wildly express yourself and when it's over; you go back into your shell.
Actually, I prefer the actively mean people. I mean, at least they're (in a perverse kind of way) acknowledging that you exist. Even if it's only to annoy them. I annoy, therefore I am. Yes, this is unhealthy; but it's kind of fun to watch them turn red. Up to a point. When they start throwing office supplies at your noggin, some hard decisions need to be made.
But there's always an exception to the rule. When I worked at the production company that has the little boy jumping off the dock in its logo; one day one of the CEOs showed up. He was never there. Had never been there. He owned like all the McDonald's in Canada or something. His name was Ted Tannebaum. The one time he showed up at the office he did the rounds. He spoke to every single person on the premises in a big booming voice. He was like some inquisitive uncle. He actually asked me who I was; what I did; what I wanted to do. I told him I was an aspiring screenwriter. "Well," he said, "you make sure you get your scripts to one of our readers and you tell them Ted said so!" and then he was gone. I never saw him again. He passed away in 2002.
Well, my scripts did get read; and summarily PASSed on (the reader, an Icelander, just didn't get it). But the takeaway is:
Be nice. Like Ted Tannebaum. Don't be an Anne Beatts. Take the time to show at least some interest in someone who aspires to be like you. Anne Beatts is gone now. She left me with bad feelings. Michael O'Donoghue is long gone. What's his legacy? You'd be hard pressed to find any kind words about him. He's left behind what? Comedy sketches about fellow human beings having nine inch spikes plunged into their eyes?
Yes, be like Ted Tannebaum. Be more Canadian.