Writer and occasional performer Michael O’Donoghue was a dominant figure in the early years of “Saturday Night Live.” Before that, he’d been a contributor to National Lampoon, earning a reputation as a bent genius.
Consider this, from O’Donoghue’s hilarious prose piece titled “The Churchill Wit”:
“Shortly after Churchill had grown a moustache, he was accosted by a certain young lady whose political views were in direct opposition to his own. Fancying herself something of a wag, she exclaimed, ‘Mr. Churchill, I care for neither your politics nor your moustache.’
“Unabashed, the young statesman regarded her quietly for a moment, then wryly commented, ‘Suck my dick.’ ”
As a teenage fan of “SNL,” I was put off by the sadistic humor of O’Donoghue’s “Mr. Mike” character. (I know it was supposed to be off-putting, but still.)
As a grown man, I got to know Darius James, a fierce satirist in his own right (and one of America’s coolest Negroes). Darius was a friend of O’Donoghue’s, and respected him greatly. Check what Darius wrote about him in his book “That’s Blaxploitation!”
If you’ve read about the backstage history of “SNL,” then you have marveled at some of Michael O’Donoghue’s workplace shenanigans... like spray-painting the word “DANGER” on the wall in 1980.
God had the last laugh, though, striking O’Donoghue dead with a brain hemorrhage in 1994.
In honor of the man and his spirit, I’m streaming audio of a sketch that aired in April of 1977. It’s called “Mr. Mike Meets Uncle Remus.” (Garrett Morris played Uncle Remus, of course.) Click here to hear it.
This scene can be seen on the DVD set “Saturday Night Live: The Complete Second Season.”