Few figures in comedy are as shrouded in well-maintained mystery as Lorne Michaels, a fact exhaustively documented by virtually everyone with a Saturday Night Live connection. In his new book entitled Sick in the Head, Judd Apatow compiles three decades worth of interviews with a variety of comedians including Gary Shandling, Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, and recent SNL controversy stirrer Louis C.K.
Speaking on his controversial SNL monologue (no; not that one), C.K. details the short but revelatory story of how he confidently delivered a 12-minute opus during rehearsals before being crushed to hear that Michaels felt that almost half of it was weak enough to cut. According to Salon, C.K. didn't realize he "needed to go in scared" until after their brief disagreement:
"[Lorne Michaels] says ‘So, you did twelve minutes in the monologue. How much do you want to do on-air?’ I said ‘I want to do all twelve,’ and he goes, ‘You’re not doing twelve.’ He goes, ‘It was good but there was a lot of air in it, a lot of stopping and starting. I know there are cuts in there.’ My face turned red. I was angry. I was like, ‘Well, I don’t know. I thought it was pretty good. And fuck you.’ I was really mad. Later, this woman comes in and says, ‘Uh, we’re one minute under.’ And so I go, ‘Then I’m doing twelve.’ And Lorne turns to me and goes ‘Calm down.’ I was really insulted. He said ‘I’ll give you seven and nobody’s ever done seven.’ And I said, ‘What if it goes long? What if I go over and end up doing ten or more?’ And he goes, ‘Then we’ll know that you’re very undisciplined and unprofessional.’ And everybody laughed."
After the subdued exchange of heated words, Louis C.K. watched a tape of the dress rehearsal — surprised to find that he actually agreed with Michaels. "He knows exactly what he's doing," says Louis. Revisit the storied monologue below.