Entertainment Weekly


Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


Thirty-Nine Years of Short-Term Memory Loss

Posted on

Thirty-Nine Years of Short-Term Memory Loss

Thirty-Nine Years of Short-Term Memory Loss

Current Status:
In Season
Tom Davis
Grove Press
Memoir, Nonfiction

We gave it a B+

Tom Davis made his name in the ’70s as one-half of the comedy duo (and Saturday Night Live writing team) Franken and Davis. ?His partner, Al Franken, became even more ?famous in the two decades after the pair split, first as a best-selling political humorist and now as a Minnesota politician. Davis fell back into ?obscurity. In his new memoir, he recalls watching Jeopardy! one night when the following mind-bender appeared on screen: ”He was the comedy partner of Al Franken.” ”Everyone was stumped,” Davis writes, ”including Ken Jennings, the greatest Jeopardy! champ ever.”

Thirty-Nine Years of Short-Term Memory Loss doesn’t pretend that the routinely drug-blasted Davis is an important cultural figure — but it abundantly demonstrates that he has been friends with a lot of them, including ?Dan Aykroyd, Timothy Leary, Grateful Dead honcho? Jerry Garcia, and Chris Farley, whose drug consumption alarmed Davis so much he attempted an intervention (”and,” he notes, ”you know you’re in trouble when I’m the one intervening”). There aren’t many people who can claim to have jammed in an impromptu band with John Belushi and Keith Richards, but the guitar-playing Davis is among them. It also reveals why this self-confessed ”hippie with attitude” is one of comedy’s forgotten men, beyond his narcotic intake. Yes, he co-created the ?Coneheads with Aykroyd and evocatively recalls the rush — in every sense — of working on the early SNL. But he ? also wrote a never-broadcast skit called ”Sexoffenderville” and teamed up with Garcia on a screenplay based on Kurt Vonnegut’s The Sirens of Titan at a time when Garcia was addicted to heroin. That script remains unfilmed and, one suspects, unfilmable. However, Davis’ tales, particularly those about hanging out with Garcia, are engrossing and darkly humorous. With this funny, spiky, and twistedly entertaining autobiography, he has transformed his failure of a career into a minor triumph. B+

See all current book reviews from EW