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  • Jake Corbin

And Now, Deep Thoughts

Art by Paul Rios


Shannon and I were in second grade when she asked me the question. We were having a conversation for once instead of my usual M.O.—me teasing her relentlessly. She was leaning against the sliding glass door in her parent’s Rosemont home, full of curiosity like most children. The only thing standing between us was the bright light filtering in from the kitchen window, shooting a laser beam of concentrated sun across the carpet and towards the couch.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

This wasn’t the first time someone had asked about my plans for the future.  I was 7-years-old.  It’s safe to say I had taken part in at least a few school projects dedicated to answering that very question.

This time was different, though.

“I want to write for ‘Saturday Night Live’ and live in New York City.”

It was the first time I had answered the question with sincere honesty.  I usually said “professional baseball player” or some other generic kid answer.  That’s not to say playing baseball for a living wouldn’t be amazing, but this time I put actual thought into what I was saying.  I took the question to heart.  I wanted to write and create.  I wanted to make people laugh.  I wanted to live in a studio apartment (like the artists I saw on TV), ride the subway and join a breakdancing crew (I was really into Beat Street at the time).

It was a significant moment.  Not because it proved I was capable of thinking before speaking, but because it was the first time I publically announced how much comedy meant to me.  If I had my way, I would make a career out of it.

“Oh, yeah?  I could see you doing that.”

Shannon seemed a bit thrown by my response, but who could blame her.  At that point in our lives, most of our friends had a deeper understanding of the “Snorks” than “Saturday Night Live.”

I wasn’t an expert on late-night sketch shows, either, but I am confident I had more insight than the average elementary school kid.  That same year, my dad, who’s been working at a TV station my entire life, decided to edit together his favorite “SNL” skits onto a single VHS tape.  His meticulous patch-working of the show’s early seasons was done for his amusement, but it blew my mind in the process.  When he popped in that plastic tape and introduced me to the Not Ready for Primetime Players, my view of comedy—and my definition of what funny was—literally transformed overnight.  I gleefully cringed at the Bass-O-Matic’s “terrific” product.  I laughed at the sword-happy Samurai Delicatessen.  I suddenly wanted to be a wild and crazy guy.

To put things lightly, my entire worldview expanded in the span of a couple of hours.

Some 25 years later, I still love “Saturday Night Live.”  I’ve read books about the show and watched documentaries.  I don’t always catch the new episodes, but my DVR always does.  I’m not a fan of every band they put on nowadays, but looking back maybe I never was.  The show is still funny, and I still get a rush every time I hear “live from New York…” at the end of the cold open.

The only real difference from that inquisitive day with my childhood friend is that I officially have a negative percent chance of, say, discussing the wording of a joke with Lorne Michaels—never working in comedy will do that.  I guess I’m the only one to blame for that one, though.

Still, some dreams die hard.  I haven’t stopped wanting to write and create.  I can’t stop trying to make people laugh.  I could probably get by in a studio apartment (although, I wouldn’t mind something bigger).  I like the idea of taking the subway, and I still enjoy the art of b-boying (just watched Beat Street again, too).

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“I want to write for ‘Saturday Night Live’ and live in New York City.”

Hopefully I still have room to grow.

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