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Darrell Hammond visits The Drive

Comedian Darrell Hammond, impersonator extraordinaire and veteran of SNL, joined Steve Jaxon on The Drive this afternoon, in anticipation of his two-night stand at Cobb's Comedy Club in San Francisco, tomorrow and Saturday.


Steve Jaxon:
I’m really excited about our next guest. I’ve been a huge fan since he began a long time ago on SNL, actor, comedian and master impressionist – in fact, to this day, nobody, nobody on the planet does a better Bill Clinton or Al Gore, both he did on SNL. He is the great Darrell Hammond! Darrell, it’s a pleasure to talk to you, man!

darrell hammond

Darrell Hammond

Darrell Hammond:
Hey man, how’s it going?

SJ:
It’s cool! You’re going to be at Cobb’s, fabulous Cobb’s, tomorrow and Saturday night,

DH:
That’s right, fabulous Cobb’s, Friday and Saturday, two shows each night.

SJ:
Yeah, I gotta get over there. Have you been doing standup regularly, or did you take a break, or what?

DH:
I’ve always done, you know, at least four or five clubs a year at minimum, and you know, I’ve been fortunate enough to do the best clubs in the country, and Cobb’s certainly qualifies as a big-league club and a great experience.

SJ:
It really is a great venue. It’s been around forever. So how did you wind up on SNL and what were you doing before that? How did you get on that program? ‘Cuz you really made your mark, you were on for many years.

DH:
I was living in Hell’s Kitchen, trying to get good as a stand-up, trying to get good as someone who did voices and talked like other people and I actually auditioned twice for SNL and was turned down, and this was the third time, I was actually performing at Caroline’s when a producer from the show saw me. And the timing was really right. I mean, before, I could never really get on SNL because Phil Hartmann was sort of having his... it was the Phil Hartmann era. So when he retired and went on to do news radio, I believe, that slot was open, of the guy who did lots of people, lots and lots of people, that slot opened up, and they hired me, finally.

SJ:
Well, you really are a master impressionist, I mean, Frank Caliendo, you’re even better, to me, than he is, and that Bill Clinton and Al Gore were just brilliant, man. And I will never forget Al Gore and the lock box.

DH:
Yeah, it’s funny, you know, I had been living in LA for a while and a friend of mine ended up doing some work for Al Gore last week, and Gore said to him, told him to tell me hello, and I was very flattered by that and really kind of touched. It’s been a little while, but that was back in an era when the New York Times was saying that Al Gore was doing me, doing him. I don’t know how personal, you know, these guys take it, but it was really nice to hear from him last week.

SJ:
That is cool. And it really was, at some point, it was like, when you would see Al Gore after watching your impression it was like, yeah, Al’s doing Darrell Hammond doing him. It’s amazing.

DH:
Yeah, I mean, they’ve said that about Clinton, they’ve said that about, you know, when I was playing Trump, they said that about Trump, Clinton and Gore. And it’s really flattering to hear. I mean, if you really feel like, Hey, I want to be good at something, and I worked really hard to get good at something and now, I must be pretty good at something because people are telling me that world leaders are doing me, you know?

SJ:
Yeah. And the Trump thing, of course, that was way before he became President, but when he was just a New York a-hole, but you did to a great Trump.

We are talking with the great Darrell Hammond who will be performing at Cobb’s tomorrow and Saturday night, I can’t wait to see that. As far as SNL today, what are your thoughts on it? Obviously, everyone, you gotta love Alec Baldwin as Trump.

DH:
Yeah, they’re always doing something right, or something new or something interesting, and that’s always the case right now. I haven’t watched it as much, I haven’t ever been there, you know because I became an announcer, staff announcer over there, so I record all the work I do for them, I record. But all the work I’ve seen over there has been innovative and really good.

SJ:
And of course, as you just referred to, you replaced the great Don Pardo a few years back.

DH:
Right, right.

SJ:
So, you knew this guy, I mean, was he actually in the studio? Or did he...

DH:
Yeah. He was there ever week for decades, it seems like. He got, his health was in question probably the last five years or so that he did it, and he was living in Arizona. So he was recording from Arizona. So my deal with them is sometimes I record from New Orleans, sometimes I record from Los Angeles, so it’s wherever I happen to be, I’m usually in one of those two towns. And, you know, the idea was for us to never be able to replace him, like, we’re not even going to try to replace him, we’re going to put a non-announcer on here and he’s going to invent a voice, you know. And it’s sort of to be an homage to Don Pardo.

SJ:
Yes, hard to replace, but it works.

DH:
Not replaceable at all. I just kind of when on there and, I’m not an announcer, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, you know, I’m going to make something up and that’s how we’re going to replace Don Pardo. So by saying that he’s not replaceable, so we’re going to do our best.

SJ:
I just, my producer Mike just stepped out of the studio for a moment and I had to call him back in ‘cause I want him to hear this, I don’t know if he knows this, but you went to high school and played on the baseball team, and one of your teammates was Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

DH:
Absolutely.

SJ:
Unbelievable!

DH:
Not only in high school but in Babe Ruth league, and American Legion ball as well, and also junior college, yeah. I think that every, you know, I played Little League, but once I got out of Little League, from the age of 13 until I stopped playing baseball, every game I played, I played with Bruce Bochy.

SJ:
Wow. Are you still in touch with him?

DH:
You know what, occasionally, and it’s a good-feeling thing. But when you’re not in each others’ lives anymore, you don’t talk as much anymore. It’s been a couple years since we’ve actually connected with each other or communicated with each other. I did an interview with Bob Costas about something called “The Boche” which was just a dance that Bruce would do. The thing you don’t know about Bruce Bochy is, he’s a really funny guy.

SJ:
Yeah, I’ve heard that.

DH:
Yeah, and somebody who rare... didn’t speak a lot, but when he spoke, he was listened to because he would say these profound things about what was going on in the game and we’d be on the bench, going, now how the hell does a 13-year-old understand the dynamics...at 13 years old?

SJ:
Well, obviously he was fated to be a big league manager and do well and he certainly has.

DH:
Yeah, Hall of Fame and still going.

SJ:
Yeah, he’s loved around here, obviously, as you can imagine.

DH:
Yeah.

SJ:
So, your stand-up at Cobb’s, tomorrow night and Saturday night, two shows each night, uh, I’m assuming, I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that you do a lot of impersonations, ‘cause you’re so great at it.

DH:
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I’ve met all these people. So it’s easy just to tell stories about meeting them and it’s easy to work the SNL impressions into a stand-up because I have stories about meeting them.

SJ:
Exactly, which makes sense. Well, I can’t wait to check it out, it’s Cobb’s tomorrow night and Saturday night, two shows each night. The great Darrell Hammond. It’s a pleasure, dude. I’m a huge fan, hopefully, we can talk again.

DH:
I hope so.

SJ:
All right, Darrell, take care, man.

DH:
Thanks so much.

SJ:
Again, that’s tomorrow night, and Saturday night, two shows each night, at Cobb’s. I love Darrell Hammond. That was great. We talked about him doing Al Gore, and the infamous “Lock Box” scene, with Will Ferrell as George W. Bush. It was an SNL total classic. Mike’s got a clip (from SNL in 2000):

(The scene is a parody of a presidential campaign debate between Al Gore and G.W. Bush.)

Moderator:
With that out of the way, let’s begin the debate.

Mr. Vice President, during this campaign, you have frequently called the Bush tax plan a risky scheme. Why?

Darrell Hammond, impersonating Al Gore:
Well Jim, governor Bush and I have two very different plans to offer tax relief to American families. In his plan, the wealthiest 1% of Americans would receive nearly 50% of the benefits. My plan, Jim, is different. Rather than squander the surplus on a risky tax cut for the wealthy, I would put it in what I call a lock box.

Moderator:
Governor Bush, your response.

Will Ferrell, impersonating GW Bush:
I don’t know what that was all about but I will tell you this. Don’t mess with Texas.

Darrell Hammond, impersonating Al Gore:
I didn’t mess with Texas.

Moderator:
Governor Bush, I listened very carefully to the Vice President’s remarks and I honestly do not believe he messed with Texas. Now, Governor Bush.

Darrell Hammond, impersonating Al Gore:
Jim, could I just say that in my plan, the lock box would be used only for Social Security and Medicare. It would have two different locks.

Moderator:
Governor Bush.

Darrell Hammond, impersonating Al Gore:
Now, one of the keys to the lock box would be kept by the President. The other key would be sealed in a small magnetic container and placed under the bumper of the Senate majority leader’s car.

Moderator:

Governor Bush, the next question is for you.

(end of excerpt)

SJ:
Yeah! The amazing Darrell Hammond as Al Gore and the equally amazing Will Ferrell was George W. Bush.

[end]

(The photo of Darrell Hammond is from Wikipedia and licensed under Creative Commons. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darrell_Hammond#/media/File:Darrell_Hammond_by_Gage_Skidmore.jpg.)

 

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