Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Thirty-Nine Years of Short-Term Memory Loss

by Tom Davis

A memoir by Tom Davis, an original writer on Saturday Night Live and comedy partner with Al Franken, Thirty-nine Years of Short-Term Memory Loss is a hilarious book about the early days of SNL that chronicles Davis’s friendship with Jerry Garcia, Timothy Leary, and his friends at SNL.

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 320
  • Publication Date March 16, 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4456-0
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $17.00

About The Book

39 Years of Short-Term Memory Loss is a seriously funny and irreverent memoir that gives an insider’s view of the birth and rise of Saturday Night Live, and features laugh-out-loud stories about some of its greatest personalities—Al Franken, Lorne Michaels, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Bill Murray, Michael O’Donoghue, and Chris Farley. Davis’s memoir describes not only his experiences on the set of SNL but also his suburban childhood, high school in the ’60s, the discovery of sex, and reveling in the hippie culture—and psychoactive drugs—from San Francisco to Kathmandu to Burning Man over the last four decades. Lucky for us that he remembers so much of it.


“Finally a book by someone who actually worked at the original Saturday Night Live. Tom Davis writes in a heartfelt and hilarious style telling great stories from the world of show business and entertainment.” —Dan Aykroyd

“Frankly, I’m surprised Tom was able to remember this much of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. But I’m not surprised that my old partner was able to capture the times with such humor and such wisdom.” —Al Franken

“Writing for Saturday Night Live during the sketch show’s legendary early seasons may be Davis’s claim to fame, but this captivating memoir is about much more. . . [featuring] some lurid and hysterical SNL stories, Davis’s memoir is less a backstage expose than a winning coming-of-age story featuring a funny Midwestern kid following his unlikely dream to the top.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Davis’s tales . . . are engrossing and darkly humorous. With this funny, spiky, and twistedly entertaining autobiography, he has transformed his failure of a career into a minor triumph. (B+).” —Entertainment Weekly

“Tom Davis has written a book any fan of American comedy will enjoy. His mind remains keen, his comic insights penetrating, his natural humor and humane persona evident throughout.” —Dennis Perrin, author of Mr. Mike: The Life and Work of Michael O’Donoghue

“An entertaining, pointillist account of what it was like to help shape one of the greatest comedy shows in television’s history.” —Salon.com


Adrenaline pumping, I watch Johnny Carson ask, “Who wants to stump the band?” Al and I raise our hands. Johnny steps down and looks at us. We stand up.

Johnny: “So—have you guys got a song for us?”

Al: “Ah . . . yes we do.”

Johnny: “What’s your name?”

Al: “I’m Al Franken.”

I: “Tom Davis.”

Johnny: “Okay—so what’s the song?”

Al: “Richard Nixon’s campaign song from 1952.” The audience laughs, and so does Johnny.

Johnny: “Doc—you guys want to take a stab at that one?” Cut to: Doc and the band. They smile and shrug. They’re stumped.

Johnny: “Okay guys, let’s hear it.” We belt out the song we learned during research. Johnny cracks up and the crowd applauds.

Johnny: “Say you guys are terrific. What do you do?”

Al: “We’re a standup comedy team.”

Johnny: “Really. Maybe you guys should do the show sometime?”

Al: “We’d love to . . . (he points off camera) . . . but your talent coordinator said there’s no place for us here.” Johnny is as stunned as is everyone else. He turns to the camera, calling for a commercial. Johnny disappears; the lights come down, the audience buzzes softly, and our hopes to appear on The Tonight Show have vanished like a fart in a tornado.