Don’t know if you’ve been following Darrell Hammond as he tours to promote his new book God, If You’re Not Up There, I’m F—ed, but he’s been giving some eye- and ear-opening interviews. The former Saturday Night Live cast member was interviewed yesterday by Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air, and had to stop at various moments to collect himself, brought to tears at recounting the abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother, his compulsive cutting, and the humane treatment he received from Lorne Michaels and SNL.
Now HLN has released this clip of Hammond being interviewed on The Joy Behar Show, airing Thursday night, in which he describes the feeling of doing crack as “take the best orgasm you ever had, multiply it by five, and then prolong it for eight hours.”
It’s a rather strange TV moment, since his description is met with guffaws from people off-camera, and a smiling Behar saying, “So what’s the down-side?” to which Hammond replies with a genial air, “Death and destruction, but it’s well worth it.”
What’s disturbing is Hammond’s blank affect — he deadpanned his way through similar stories this morning on The View — which may leave some people thinking he’s being cavalier. But what came across in Terry Gross’ remarkable, long interview is that Hammond became a man almost numb to normal human reactions. He says in his book, and in interviews, that when he was a young boy, his mother stuck his fingers in electrical sockets and hit him in the stomach with a hammer. He became a cutter who even slit himself moments before going onstage on SNL. He spent years in therapy and self-medicating with alcohol and drugs.
Hammond gives Michaels and SNL a lot of credit for keeping him employed while he was going through some of his roughest patches, and for helping him get treatment. There’s an eerie calmness and a gallow’s humor to Hammond these days — for him, the clown’s cliche, “I laugh so that I do not cry,” seems particularly apt.
Now in recovery, Hammond seems healthy yet detached, which I think is probably one way to deal with the life he’s had. Still, it’s made for one harrowing book tour, at least for those witnessing it.