4/6/09 - al franken

In today's excerpt - Saturday Night Live alumnus and soon-to-be-United States Senator Al Franken, and related by his former comedy team partner Tom Davis:

"Al and I met in 1967. He was in the class above me at the exclusive, all-male, prep Blake School in a suburb of Minneapolis. He was one of those faces I passed in the hallways each day, but what a face—buckteeth, Coke-bottle glasses, and that mouth. On demand, he would demonstrate by slowly and dramatically opening his maw to its fullest extent, then inserting his pudgy fist completely inside. ...

"He was one of those Jewish guys who dominated scholastics—perfect SATs and such. They kept the grade point average up [Jews and Catholics were not admitted at Blake until after World War II]. ...

"When Al was a precocious four-year-old, there was a city worker digging a ditch in front of the house who became annoyed as young Franken counted aloud the successive number of each shovelful.

"[His mother] Phoebe was a real estate agent. As an eleven-year-old home alone, Al answered the telephone. Apparently she was selling a house to the actor Clayton Moore, who was famous in the midfifties for his leading role in the popular television show The Lone Ranger. Now he was retiring to Minneapolis:

Al: 'Hello?'

Mr. Moore: 'Hello ... is Mrs. Franken there?'

Al: 'No. Who is this?'

Mr. Moore: 'How old are you, young man?'

Al: 'Eleven.'

Mr. Moore: 'You know what? This is the Lone Ranger calling ...'

Al: 'Yeah. And I'm Tonto.'

"At thirteen, he earned money as a caddy at a country club golf course. One golfer was playing poorly and became cranky with his caddy.

Golfer: 'You must be the worst caddy in the world.'

Al: 'That would be too big a coincidence.'

"As a fourteen-year-old, he was going out on his first date and his father Joe realized he had never explained the birds and the bees to his son. Beginning with a gentle inquiry, Joe discovered that Al didn't appear to have a grasp of the facts. After carefully explaining the differences between the sexes, Al was confused and upset. 'You mean women don't have penises?' Joe tried a different approach, but his son became even more upset. Joe had to start all over again before Al finally told him he was joking. Poor Joe."


Tom Davis


39 Years of Short-Term Memory Loss: The Early Days of SNL from Someone Who Was There


Grove Press an imprint of Grove/Atlantic Inc


Copyright 2009 by Tom Davis


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