The Curse of the Fake News Anchor: Chevy, Craig, Norm and Me


Laugh while you can, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers: Being a fake news anchor is fun while it lasts. But as Dennis Miller might say, that fun evaporates faster than Rod Blagojevich's flop sweat at an outdoor Kant reading--once you get fired. Nothing ends a career and ruins a life faster than getting canceled as a fake anchorperson of fake news.

And I should know.

Fake news, hard facts.

See, I used to be a king around here at Hosted a fake news show five days a week. And then three days a week. And then one day a week. And then suddenly, no days a week. It was right around the time Cracked Editor-in-Chief Jack O'Brien texted "you're canceled" to me that I realized that maybe, just maybe, I wasn't really a king around here at all.

Though I never stopped wearing this to work.

And I'm not the first. See there have been a startling number of ACTUALLY FAMOUS purveyors of fake news who had their lives turn to shit.

Craig Kilborn

Remember Craig? He hosted The Daily Show, back before you watched it. For a while, Craig was riding high; his The Daily Show gig was just another notch on his TV hosting belt. Then, for some reason, he gave an interview to Esquire magazine where he called the women who worked for the show "emotional bitches," and suggested that series co-creator Lizz Winstead would blow him if he asked her to.

Not too surprisingly, both Craig and Lizz were gone within a year, presumably so that she could focus on blowing him full time. Kilborn moved on, though, and hosted The Late Show for six years.

And then the curse kicked in. He abruptly quit in 2006 so that he could pursue other television opportunities. Those opportunities included playing an asshole in Old School, and culminated with a bit part in the shitty remake The Benchwarmers. That was three years ago.

Oppurtunity ding-dong ditches Craig Kilborn.

Since then he has dropped off the grid. How does that happen? While he was by all accounts an unrepentant prick, Kilborn was a talented comedy writer, and the first host of the best comedy show on TV today. Did his infamous ego get the best of him? Or is there something darker at work here?

The Part Where I Bitterly Compare Our Stories

Kilborn's departure from The Late Show, and anything resembling a career, was strange in that the show was doing fine. He never gave a reason.

On the other hand, there were several problems with my fake news show, "The News on Cracked," which eventually morphed into "The Week In Douchebaggery." (My mom was so proud.) The most prominent problem with the show was, in a word, You. The vast majority of You didn't watch it.

I'm only laughing at how much I hate you.

So I can't say I was shocked when I got the axe. I mean, my weekly notes from Jack consisted of things like: "You don't work here anymore," "Please stop posting more episodes of The Week in Douchebaggery," and "As soon as we figure out the password you're using, we're going to change it." And after all, all good things must come to an end. (Unless they're good things that happen to Swaim or fucking Daniel O'Brien, who was still in college when MY SECOND DAUGHTER WAS BORN. For those two punks, good things just KEEP ON COMING.)

Dan and Swaim arrive at work the day WiD is canceled.

The Part Where I Seamlessly Transition To The Next Victim

But you know who probably WAS surprised to get the axe?

Norm McDonald

Chevy Chase once said that Norm McDonald was his first successor who really "got" Weekend Update. But after making one too many jokes about OJ Simpson that pissed off OJ's pal (and NBC executive) Don Ohlmeyer, Norm was yanked from the fake anchor chair. After leaving Saturday Night Live, Norm starred in a pair of unwatched sitcoms, played small parts in various mediocre movies, and notched a truly epic monologue when he was brought back to host SNL.

These days he's both Twittering and creating a reality show for FX about how down-on-his luck he is. If you see him on TV, he's usually playing poker while looking as though he's been floating face down in a swamp for the past few weeks.

Norm has gone pro in poker and getting his ass kicked by life.

The Part Where I Bitterly Compare Our Stories

Though I don't technically "work for Cracked" anymore, or even "have any friends left there" after my tear-drenched, urine-doused goodbye speech--I still love comedy. And so, like Norm McDonald, I have returned to deliver my epic monologue. I mean, yeah, Cracked pretty much told me that I suck at it, as did my (lack of) audience, but that didn't shake my love for my second mistress. (Which is comedy.) (My first mistress is a homeless woman on the Third Street Promenade.)

The Part Where I Seamlessly Transition To The Next Loser

Of course, being a Weekend Update anchor doesn't guarantee success. As Chevy noted, between him and Norm, there were plenty anchors who didn't "get it." Hey, speaking of Chevy ...

Chevy Chase

The breakout star of SNL's first season, he defined fake news for generations to come. He admits now that he regrets leaving the show after one year, but his bank account probably doesn't. For a while, Chevy was funny: Fletch, Vacation, European Vacation, Fletch Lives.

But then his comic talents mysteriously disappeared. One day he was Fletch, and the next he was hosting the most notoriously painful and unwatchable talk show ever created. Watch how uncomfortable he is even thinking about being funny on The Chevy Chase Show. Actually, that clip's almost 10 minutes, you'll never make it. See if you can last through all five minutes of this unbearable Goldie Hawn interview.

(Spoiler alert: you can't.)

Chevy's reportedly set to play a supporting role in an upcoming NBC sitcom starring Joel McHale--the dude who hosts Talk Soup on E! While McHale is actually funny, when you're playing second fiddle to a guy whose biggest gig is on a network with an exclamation point in its name, you are fully living the curse of the former fake news show host.

The Part Where I Bitterly Compare Our Stories

Actually, I don't think I have much in common with Chevy Chase. While I don't create fake news-based comedy for Cracked anymore, I still create comedy for myself. It's like drinking alone in your room, only somehow more depressing.

OK, so Chevy and I have something in common.

Honestly, I'd love to be funny for a living. If I could write jokes for, say, Jimmy Fallon's new version of Late Night as my job, I'd be pleased as Vicky (the aforementioned Santa Monica homeless woman). To that end, I've started a blog of my very own. It's called See, it's not too late for Fallon. He co-hosted Weekend Update with Tina Fey, and then quit to pursue a career in film. There are some Chevy similarities here: He made a couple movies that didn't do too well, but now he's scored the plum gig of late-night talk show host--and people actually watch his show. In his monologue each night, he gets to live the dream of former fake newscasters everywhere: He gets to make MORE jokes about the news, and receive a steady paycheck in exchange.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking: "Lex, you're just using your old friends at Cracked to promote your pathetic and unlikely attempt at scoring a job writing for The Late Show." And that's where you're wrong. As I already mentioned, I don't have any friends left at Cracked. I'm using my old password.

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