A Special Treat

A Special Treat

Humorism readers, I have a special treat for you today: a rare artifact from comedy’s history and indeed American history, never before seen by the public eye. Fresh from the results of a FOIA request I sent to the William J. Clinton Presidential Library nine months ago, I present to you, drumroll please, Bill and Hillary Clinton’s invitation to the Saturday Night Live 25th anniversary special taping on September 26th, 1999:

Scanned image of an invitation card reading: "Mr. Lorne Michaels / and the National Broadcasting Company / request the honour of your presence / at the twenty-fifth anniversary of / Saturday Night Live / Sunday, the twenty-sixth of September / Nineteen Hundred and Ninety-Nine / at nine o'clock / Studio 8H / 30 Rockefeller Plaza / New York City / doors close at eight o'clock / black tie." Second, smaller card contains three responses: "Will attend," "Unable to attend," and "No longer interested in seeing those people," with a line below reading: "The favour of a reply is requested before the first of August." Third card reads "Party immediately following."
Nice… two normal options and then a joke.

What a beauty. I’m particularly fond of the British spellings—or Canadian, I suppose—of “honor” and “favor,” as though the event were some sort of royal affair. That’s always been the most interesting thing about SNL, to me: the tension between its ostensibly anti-establishment ethos and the immense, king-making power it's built in Hollywood, vested primarily in one guy with a lifetime appointment who loves to hang out with celebrities and politicians. See, relatedly, the annual holiday card Clinton sent Michaels starting in 1996 (it's unclear when the photo was taken):

A holiday card, signed by Bill Clinton with message "To Lorne Michaels / Best wishes," featuring a picture of Clinton and Michaels holding hands in front of an American flag.
Two buds.

Unfortunately the former President and First Lady couldn’t make the special, a star-studded affair featuring Al Green, the Beastie Boys, and a sketch where Mike Myers assures Michaels he's not the inspiration for Dr. Evil. Here’s the form rejection Clinton’s scheduling office sent on August 5, 1999:

Letter from the White House scheduling office reading: "Dear Mr. Michaels: Thank you for inviting President and Mrs. Clinton to attend the 25th Anniversary of Saturday Night Live on September 26, 1999. The President and First Lady appreciate your thoughtful request. We regret, however, that because of the demands of their official schedule they will be unable to accept your invitation. Please do not hesitate to contact the Scheduling Office of either the President or First Lady if we can be of any assistance to you in the future." Signed by Stephanie S. Streett, Director of Scheduling for the President, and Patti Solis Doyle, Director of Scheduling for the First Lady.

And just to round things out, here’s Clinton’s official schedule for the day of the celebration:

Both the President and the First Lady took the day and evening off.
Ouch!! That's gotta sting.

Will Bill and Hillary make the 50th anniversary special in two years or thereabouts, pending the AMPTP’s willingness to come to the table with the WGA and SAG-AFTRA? Stay tuned to the Humorism newsletter for future developments.

Until next time,


PS: thank you to everyone who replied to yesterday’s email. I’m making my way through the responses and will be in touch shortly.

Keep it going for your host!

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