JUNE 10, 1998 -- BY JOE EHRBAR
Until recently, Macdonald was best known for his dry, acerbic wit as
"Saturday Night Live"'s news anchor, as well as for his cutting
impersonations of former presidential candidate Bob Dole. Though he
was one of the few writer/actors keeping the creatively sinking ship
of "Saturday Night Live" afloat, he was canned earlier this year after
several seasons. Now, Macdonald's writing and acting on the big
screen. In 1996, he appeared in The People vs. Larry Flint. This
summer, he'll do the voice of a dog in Dr. Doolittle (starring Eddie
Murphy) and will start working on Pittsburg, by the writers of Ed
Wood and The People vs. Larry Flint. He presently stars in the
big-screen comedy Dirty Work (also starring Chevy Chase and the
late Chris Farley, directed by Bob Saget).
Bob Saget, what are you nuts!?
[Laughs nervously.] Yeah. No, the reason I got Saget was
because when I was young, I went to a comedy club and saw him, before he was on
TV. He was really funny--sort of had a dark comic sense to him. Then he did all that
bad TV. Then, when we were looking for directors, we were talking and he turned
out to be this real cool, funny guy. He's humiliated by his body of work. He did it
for money, you know. Then also, when I was acting, it was great because if he ever
gave me notes, I'd go, "What are you talking about? You were on that show. It
wasn't like Felini or anything."
So big-nose Bob was easy to work with?
Yeah, it was easy; he's really easygoing. He won an academy award
when he was a kid. He did a college film when he was a kid. He really knows
filmmaking well. It's funny, on the street he's very recognizable. He's like
Well, who could miss that schnoz?
Yeah. But everyone just recognizes him, they can never compliment
him. They just say his name, "You're Bob Saget. You're Bob." But they never say
Is it true that Chevy Chase offered his services for free?
Yeah. Chevy was a good guy. He liked the script, because it reminded
him of Animal House. He liked the politically incorrect part of it. He liked also that
he could just be a breakout guy and he didn't have to be the lead. It's hard for a
comic where you have to have a romantic interest and all that shit. He plays a doctor
who's a compulsive gambler, so he got to do all his jokes and he liked that. We
wrote it specifically for him. When I was a kid, he was my favorite guy on "SNL."
What about your character? Did you have to suffer through all
that "romantic" stuff?
As little as possible. We didn't have any in the script and the studio
made us put it in. So it's there for a tiny bit.
Tell us about your character.
He's just this dude who gets fired from all his jobs, and he's no good at
anything. Which is what I was like before I got into show business. The only thing
he's good at is getting back at the guys who fire him. So then he opens a revenge
business and he gets revenge for people. And he just fucks over people.
Sounds like fun.
Yeah, it was fun. Actually it was hard, because a lot of the [revenge
tactics] we thought of, we couldn't do, because the studio was afraid people might
actually do them.... Farley's in the movie; that's the coolest.
I didn't know that.
He just did it for nothing. We kind of wrote [the part] with him as we
went. Farley was a really great writer, you know. He plays a guy who got his nose
bit off by a whore. So he has no nose. It's his actual last movie.
How did you get into show business?
I started out as a writer on the "Roseanne" show. Then I went to
"Saturday Night Live" and wrote. I [started acting] on "Saturday Night Live" from
writing. And then when I was on "Saturday Night Live," I always wrote all my own
Which leads to my next question: Why did NBC fire you--the
talent with the only talent on the show?
I don't know, they never told me. The president guy, Don Omeyer, said
I wasn't funny. But that seemed kind of odd. The president of the network doesn't
usually get involved, especially in a late-night show. So it was really odd. His best
friend is O.J. Simpson, so a lot of people thought it was that--you know, because
we made fun of O.J. all the time. I did a couple of O.J. jokes every single week
[laughs]. We were relentless. We never stopped, even after it was over. Isn't that
weird, that your best friend's O.J.?
Have you had to do any Bob Dole impersonations today?
So since this is a music magazine, what are your listening to
I listen to country music. George Jones. Do you know him?
He's fuckin' great. I like Bob Dylan's new album. And then I love that
goddamn Pearl Jam. Ever see them?
Actually, are they from Seattle?
Goddamn, those guys are amazing. Ever see them live?
That's an intense dude, that Eddie Vedder.
Where have you seen them?
On "Saturday Night Live." It was really funny, because everybody was
trying to get near Eddie Vedder, because he's like this super-cool guy. And Eddie
Vedder was running around trying to find Sandler, because he wanted to do "Opera
Man." Eddie Vedder loves doing Sandler characters; it's hilarious.
© 1998 The Rocket, Joe Ehrbar