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Al Franken: Stump the Career

Al Franken: "I get to L.A. with [writing partner] Tom Davis. We've been in show business for ten minutes. We were at the Comedy Store. We were performing there. And 'The Tonight Show' was there, and they pick eight or ten of us to go and audition at 'The Tonight Show'... Oh man!

"They pick us up in a bus. We go out to Burbank. We're all nervous. We all do a hunk [routine]. Craig Tennis [the booker] announces who got picked -- a guy named Steve Simon -- and the rest of us didn't. So we're taking the bus back and we're all really bummed out... I'm kind of upset and mad -- at Craig Tennis...

"A couple weeks later, [fellow comedian] Gabe Kaplan [of 'Welcome Back, Kotter' fame] is going to be on the show and he was at the Comedy Store and he said, 'Will you guys come and be in the audience so I feel like I have some friends there who are rooting for me?' So I said, 'Sure.'

"So we're waiting outside at the Carson show and they're going to do 'Stump the Band.' So someone comes out and says, 'Does anyone have a Stump the Band thing?' So I raised my hand and said, 'Yeah, we've got one.' 'What is it?' 'Nixon's 1948 campaign song, when he ran for the Senate.' I sang for her and she loved it. 'Okay, you're going to be on.' This is really exciting.

"So we're on the aisle. I can tell we're going to be on. 'Stump the Band' comes and Johnny Carson -- Carson! Johnny Carson! -- comes up and he picks us! 'What's your song?' 'It's Nixon's 1948 campaign song.' 'Okay sing it.' And it was: 'Vote for Nixon on election day. Vote for Nixon and you'll keep your take-home pay. He's got the heart and the strength and youth. He's never been beat 'cuz he tells the truth! Vote for Nixon! Vote for Nixon! Vote for Nixon on election day. Dick! Dick! We want Dick! Vote for Nixon on election day!'

"Huge reaction, because this is at the height of Watergate. The crowd erupts. 'Dick! Dick! We want Dick!' -- they loved that. The crowd is going nuts. Johnny loves us. He says, 'Well what do you guys do?' And I said, 'We're a comedy team.' And he said, 'Well, you know what, maybe you guys should come on and do our show.' And I said, 'Well we would, but

that

guy [pointing at Craig Tennis] says we can't!'

"And Tom looks at me like, 'You have just ruined our entire show business career!' And I'm thinking the same thing. And Johnny was sort of chuckling to himself like, 'I've never seen two kids shoot themselves in the foot.' And we never got on!"

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