Conan O'Brien, writer, 1988-1991: I was getting lunch in Midtown with [fellow SNL writers] Robert Smigel and Bob Odenkirk and Greg Daniels one day. I would do this thing where an attractive woman was walking by and I would pretend I was flirting with them. I'd go, "Hellooo there." She would walk right by, and I'd say, "And goodbye." My attitude about being blown off was just as cheerful and smarmy as if I had scored. Then I started saying, "She thought my face was too wide and my jeans were too cheap."
That was one of the ways that I wrote. I would just do silly things, and every now and then people around me would say, "That's funny." I still do things like that; I could be at a restaurant and do a strange or comedic thing just for the sake of doing it.
Anyway, we went back to SNL and wrote it up. We called it "Girl Watchers." Tom Hanks was the host that week. And so Hanks and Jon Lovitz are on a street corner, and a woman would walk by and Hanks would be like, "Helloooo." And she would walk by and he'd be like, "And goodbye."
Then he would say, "She thought my eyes were too close together and my teeth were yellow." And then another girl would walk by and Lovitz would go, "Good evening." And then she would keep walking and he'd go, "And good night." And then he would say, "My hair is thinning and I'm heavy in the middle." And they both just acted like the happiest guys in the world. I remember Al Franken walking up to me afterward and saying, "How did you think of that?" He really liked it, but he was just kind of saying, "I don't see where that idea came from."
Writing a good sketch for Tom Hanks was like the ultimate ringing the bell at a carnival. I was always really proud of that one. There were sketches that I'd toiled over, but this had meaning to me because it didn't come from "Oh, it's three in the morning and I really need an idea." It came out of just being silly at lunch. It came from joy.