A profile of one of the greats, Jack Handey.
The archetypal Jack Handey sketch is about Frankenstein, or flying saucers, or a cat who, for some reason, can drive a car. “Little-boy stuff,” Handey explained. He often worked alone on his sketches rather than team up with other writers, and he liked to work from his and Marta’s Chelsea apartment, so he would show up each week to Wednesday read-throughs with these fully formed, immaculate sketches that would freak everyone out. Franken recalled a sketch called “Giant Businessman,” about an actual giant (played by Phil Hartman) who calls the cops on the loud party next door, then is terrified when the neighbor threatens him. At the read-through, Franken laughed so long and hard at the sketch’s final beat — in which the giant asked the F.B.I., sincerely, if he might join the witness protection program — that he had to excuse himself from the crowded room because his laughter was interrupting the next sketch.
“Jack Handey Is the Envy of Every Comedy Writer in America” by Dan Kois