Rob Lowe Tells Phil Hartman, SNL Stories


3 years ago



Rob Lowe

1 appearance

Rob Lowe is an actor, producer, and director. His new podcast "Literally! with Rob Lowe" is available on Spotify.


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And so to be like working with him and he's sitting there, I'm like, I've seen you on TV. By the way, how great was Phil? He was amazing. He was, I had my scariest, one of my scariest professional moments involved Phil Hartman. I was hosting the show on Saturday Night Live and Phil had a character called Mace that he did, a reoccurring character, and Mace was a hard-bitten convict and he lived in it. He obviously was serving life. And so whenever they had like, you know, pretty boy hosts, they would throw, of course, me into a cell with Mace, hey, turn around there, chicken legs. You know, so that was like the predicate of the... And I just remember, apropos of nothing, it was the week that the Lombata dance was a big deal. Oh, Jesus. That tells you how long ago it was. I forgot about that. Yeah, so Mace and I were doing the Lombata in a prison cell and the whole sketch built towards a punchline. And for whatever reason, I blew the setup line. Like, blue blew it. Like there's now no end. Oh, look at, there we go. Look at him. Hey, look at you, chicken legs. And so there was no... So I had to ad lib something really, really, really, really quickly. It felt like time stretched out and his eyes got huge. And I ad libbed something and it worked and it got a really big laugh. And I think that that's what sort of sealed my relationship with Lorne Michaels because I was able to... He came back backstage and was like, you're really Houdini, aren't you? That's got to be terrifying to do that show, to do it live. It's the best. If I could have been a not ready for Primetime Player, I would have... I mean, that would have been the dream. I think that's the dream. How much preparation do you have to do for that show? Like how many times do you rehearse one of those sketches? Well, being... What people don't really realize about being a host is it's the host show. You can take as much control over it as you want. And most people don't. I just being stupid and naive did and always did and sat in on the writers all night, write all night with all the different writers going from room to room. It was like fucking heaven. But I was an SNL nerd. So it was like... That's cool. And then you do the dress rehearsal, of course, right before air. And it's a full show. It's exactly the same show. Full audience, it's the whole thing. And then they cut things or not. One of my favorite things that got cut and Will Ferrell and I played oncologists who would deliver the bad news that people had stage four cancer, but only with our mouths full of food. So it'd be like... That was... Yeah, he'd be like, oh yeah, I'm sorry, I'm eating chili. Woo, woo, this is hot. It's burning the roof of my mouth. Sorry, so sorry. You have stage four cancer. Oh, ow, so hot and spicy. That was the total predicate of the sketch. That is a weird sketch. It was like so weird and so dark. I pitched that one. It made it to air. I mean, to dress. Wow. Really crazy. It must have been a rough week. It was a rough week. I don't think cancer's funny. No, I guess you got a point there. Bill hated the competitive aspect of the show because he said that people were just mean to each other. That's one of the things that he enjoyed about sitcoms is that everybody was kind of working together. He said one of the things about when you do SNL, everyone's battling to get their sketch on. So they would sort of sabotage each other and there was a lot of backstabby shit going on and he didn't like it. He was really hesitant to be friendly with people on the set. When he first got on the sitcom, it took a while for him to loosen up and realize this other is a different thing because that environment was every man for himself. Yeah, it's funny. Ensembles are funny that way. There is an element of teamwork. It's like any team. There's an element of teamwork that's intrinsic and you want and it's great and hopefully it's there. But then there's that element of competitiveness even with your sort of band of brothers. But that gets toxic in a hurry with the wrong culture and maybe the wrong people in it. But SNL, it is what it is. There's only so many slots for sketches and there are only so many people writing. The best is when people try to tank them in the read through. You read all of them on Wednesday, a big huge stack of them and people will laugh really, really hard at their own stuff or roll their eyes. It's fun to watch. Yeah, that's basically what he's talking about. That always made me really uncomfortable, the fake producer laugh. Like when you'd be doing like the third run through and they're like, hahaha. You're dead. But people don't even know what we're talking about. So when you do a table read or you do a run through. We've done the most unrelatable podcast ever just now. It's been great. Famous and young and good looking. Oh, everybody knows. And doomsday prepping and Earth Roamers across the million books. Yes, this is great. You know, there's nobody quite like a man of the people, Joe Rogan and Rocklowe podcast. Let's face it.