Adam McKay, writer, 1995-2001: My favorite writer of all time is Jack Handey, and "Deep Thoughts" might be my all-time favorite thing I've ever seen on SNL. It was a type of humor I'd never been exposed to. Sort of a brilliant, poetic, absurd humor that still makes you laugh out loud, with a disturbing center to it.
Obviously, there is a history to that type of humor – you could go back to National Lampoon, or Army Man, the comedy magazine that Handey used to write for. It's using style parody, or using the familiar to take an audience into strange comedic waters. Certainly, The Simpsons had some great moments, and Letterman too; early on, Steve Martin and Monty Python.
But I've never seen such a sharp point to it like "Deep Thoughts." Every time one would come on, I would get excited. I bought all the Deep Thoughts books, and I've shared them with my daughters, who've laughed at them. The fact that someone wrote this and a show as esteemed as Saturday Night Live actually produced it and put it on television – network television – gave me the sense as a teenager that anything could happen.
The definitive one is "Consider the daffodil. And while you're doing that, I'll be over here, going through your stuff." That's a pretty famous one, but I don't know if that's my favorite. There's one about a solid-gold baby: "What is it that makes a complete stranger dive into an icy river to save a solid-gold baby? Maybe we'll never know." Seeing that one was like the first time I heard Run-DMC or the B-52's or Fugazi. It's that feeling of "Oh, this is something new."
And it's his real voice – that's actually Jack Handey reading the deep thoughts. He wrote sketches, too, that have that same feeling of anything could happen, like "Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer." I would always tell Lorne that you can create fans – deep, passionate fans – when you create those new kinds of sounds and new types of takes and humor. And Lorne knows that.
I feel like Hartman was Tom Handey, or Jack Handey's muse, in a way, because he had that perfect deadpan, solid, square-jawed American presentation. Will Ferrell had a bit of that too. And Ferrell also loved that kind of comedy. I think of some of the best sketches we got to do, like "Shirtless Bible Salesman," which was written by Matt Piedmont; "Old Glory Insurance," which I wrote; "The Census Taker," with Chris Walken, which Tina Fey wrote, or another sketch about a morning show with David Alan Grier, where the prompter breaks down and they end up in a state of anarchy – that one's probably my favorite sketch I got to do on SNL. Those sketches all are cousins of Jack Handey. Maybe more than cousins – grandchildren of Jack Handey.