Saturday Night Live - Al Brooks
If you’ve ever seen an early episode of Saturday Night Live, you’ll know the show was really experimental during its first years. Frank Zappa brought a whole cult of people onstage and for the first season, there were several really off-putting Jim Henson Muppet sketches. Albert Brooks was on board to do these funny—and short—experimental films that also flopped, namely because they were often ten minutes long and just didn’t fit in with the rest of the program’s sketches. Albert Brooks was a big name and attaching him to SNL really helped the fledgling program, but Brooks and showrunner Lorne Michaels could not get on the same page.

By the end of the season, all of the tension, all of the heatedback-and-forths between the two men actually started showing on air. Brooks submitted a video of himself, lying sick in bed, where he complained about being overworked. He even taped a doctor verifying his sickness and passed it along to Lorne. With only a few marginal jokes, it was one giant middle finger, and Michaels, also willing to take on his foes, decided to air it, possibly because he thought audiences would turn on Brooks. Whether they did or didn’t, the comedian was gone by the end of the first season, which would have seemed crazy prior to the start date, given he was extremely famous and the main players, Chevy Chase and John Belushi, weren’t. You can read more about the controversy in Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller’s epic book Live From New York, or just catch the first season of SNL to see the thinly disguised conflict appearing through Brooks' videos.

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