I just listened to this fascinating conversation Al Franken had on his podcast with Jim Downey, a writer for “Saturday Night Live” for several decades. They talk about sketches they worked on together, including a lot of cold opens satirizing big political stories and other then-current events.

Franken and Downey, who worked with several different generations of cast members, discuss how much easier it was to write for the first group (1975-80), which consisted of only seven cast members. They compare that to today’s SNL, where the list of names in the opening credits goes on almost as long as some of the comedy segments, and Monday night read-throughs in the offices can include over ninety people.

Downey shares a story about a skit he created for John Belushi, who decided he didn’t want to be in it — until Bill Murray agreed to take the role. Downey also goes into detail about being fired from the show by NBC executive Don Ohlmeyer, who didn’t like all the Weekend Update jokes he and Norm MacDonald were writing about a close friend of Ohlmeyer’s named OJ Simpson:

In a brilliant move during closing arguments, Simpson attorney Johnnie Cochran put on the knit cap prosecutors say OJ wore the night he committed the murders. Although OJ may have hurt his case when he suddenly blurted out, “Hey hey, easy with that. That’s my lucky stabbin’ hat!”

Like Franken, Downey occasionally appeared in sketches he wrote, including one of my all-time favorites, a commercial for First Citywide Change Bank, which aired October 8, 1988. That’s him playing Paul McElroy, Service Representative. It got such a positive reaction, SNL ran another one the following week. I’ve embedded both of them to play consecutively here…