One Man, One Night Only: Darrell Hammond Bares All In New Stand-Up Show - 27 East

Arts & Living

Arts & Living / 1344832

One Man, One Night Only: Darrell Hammond Bares All In New Stand-Up Show

icon 3 Photos

SNL 40TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL -- Season 24, Episode 2 -- Pictured: Darrell Hammond as President Bill Clinton during the 'Bedtime at the White House' skit on October 3, 1998 -- (Photo by: Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC)

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE 40TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL -- Pictured: (l-r) Will Ferrell as Alex Trebek, Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery, Kate McCinnon as Justin Beiber, Alec Baldwin as Tony Bennett during the Celebrity Jeopardy on February 15, 2015 -- (Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBC)

author on Jul 21, 2015

Before Darrell Hammond took to the famous Studio 8H stage at 30 Rockefeller Plaza for his first time in 1995, he was struck with pangs of nervousness. He was 39 years old and, against all ageist odds, he was about to star on “Saturday Night Live.”

Mr. Hammond gave himself a pep talk to quell his butterflies.

Apparently, that pep talk tided him over for two decades, because he rarely gets pre-show jitters now, 20 years into his career as a comedian, in an ever-brighter spotlight.

“I had a psychic change, I call it,” recalled Mr. Hammond, who will return to Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor on Saturday for the fourth time. “It was my first experience on ‘SNL,’ and I was so scared. I had this whole realization that I simply cannot allow that, because it would just be a disaster. Whether it’s at the White House or on ‘SNL,’ it’s a disaster to be afraid. The audience will know you’re afraid, and you won’t be funny.”

His newest one-man endeavor, “The Darrell Hammond Project,” will include his claim to fame—a whopping 107 on-air impressions, from politicians to media figures to celebrities—but it delves below the surface. Audiences will get a sense of who he is and the troubles he’s endured, according to Bay Street Theater Artistic Director Scott Schwartz.

“This play is an incredibly personal human story as much as a comedy show,” Mr. Schwartz explained earlier this year. “It’s about his life, it’s about all the struggles he went through from when he was a kid. He had a very challenging family life and a very challenging personal life throughout his career, and it explores how he found his voice and how he found his comedy.

“It’s also quite a dark and quite a harrowing journey that he takes us on. It deals with some tough issues and tough subject matter, and it’s incredibly revealing and open about this amazing celebrity.”

Mr. Hammond grew up in Melbourne, Florida, where he said he was surrounded by true jokesters, including his baseball buddies and his parents, Max and Margaret. But his childhood was far from fun and games. In October 2011, Mr. Hammond told CNN that he was routinely beaten, stabbed and electrocuted by his mother.

And despite permanent behavioral and emotional damage—for which Mr. Hammond has been prescribed medication for the majority of his adult life—he still considers his parents to be more talented than he is. “My father was funnier than I am, and my mother was a better impressionist,” he said. “But neither of them did anything with it, and I did.”

At age 21, Mr. Hammond moved to Manhattan, where he was cast in seven plays in five years, waiting tables to be in shows. Six years later, he returned to Florida to live at home. “I decided that what I really wanted to get paid for was to talk like other people, and that’s when I decided to give it all up,” he said. “I may be poor, but I’ll be doing what I want.”

In his early 30s, Mr. Hammond confirmed that being on stage and making people laugh was the right path for him. “I did an open mic night, and that laughter and applause was so addictive,” he said. “When I was a ballplayer, I got used to being in front of a crowd, but hearing the sound of laughter for something that you wrote was pretty addictive.”

So when a 39-year-old Mr. Hammond landed a coveted “SNL” audition, he was prepared.

“I had spent, from the age of 27, every day of my life for 12 years trying to get good enough, in case I could ever get an ‘SNL’ audition,” he recalled. “They told me, ‘Let’s see how many people you can do in 10 minutes.’ And they did two auditions like that, and then they came to see me in a club to see what I was like in front of an audience. They considered me as kind of a replacement for Phil Hartman.”

That mentality morphed into a 14-year gig, setting the record for the longest tenure in “SNL” history. He said farewell in 2009, leaving with 347 sketches and a whole cast of characters, among them his favorite, Al Sharpton, plus Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, both of whom will make a triumphant return when he performs at Bay Street.

“Doing comedy is a bit like being in a good band,” Mr. Hammond said. “When you tell audiences that you’re gonna do some new material, they just say they want to see what you’re known for. I always wind up doing Clinton and Trump, but I don’t mind.

“My personality is bland,” he added, with a laugh. “People meet me and are disappointed, and I always say that it’s an act for that medium—on stage, in front of people you’ve never met before. It’s an act up there, and it’s all by design.”

Darrell Hammond will perform his one-man show, “The Darrell Hammond Project,” on Saturday, July 25, at 8 p.m. at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor. Suitable for mature audiences. Tickets start at $69. For more information, call (631)-725-9500, or visit

You May Also Like:

Let’s Talk Art: Abstract Artist Nanette Carter

Nanette Carter is one of the artists whose work is on view in the Parrish ... 5 May 2021 by Annette Hinkle

The Mothers Of Invention: Women Trailblazers In Abstraction

This past week brought a first to American politics. On April 28, during a speech ... by Annette Hinkle

This Week At The Movies

This week the Sag Harbor Cinema opens two brand new documentaries, “Street Gang” and “Sisters with Transistors.” Inspired by Michael Davis’s hit book, “Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street” follows the crew during the making of the renowned PBS children’s television program. Go inside the hearts and minds of the show’s creators — artists and educators who established one of the most influential and enduring children’s series in television history. With exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and over 20 original interviews, “Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street” introduces audiences to a gang of visionaries who set out to ... 3 May 2021 by Staff Writer

Let’s Talk Art: Virva Hinnemo

Virva Hinnemo is one of the artists whose work is on view in the Parrish ... by Annette Hinkle

Sag Harbor Through The Lens Of William Wallace Tooker

Among the appealing aspects of a photograph is what it can tell us about ourselves. ... by Bryan Boyhan

Story Time At Bay Street With Scott Rothman

The seventh offering in Bay Street Theater’s “Story Time,” a series of eight children’s books ... by Staff Writer

A Teen’s-Eye View Of Sag Harbor

“Sag Harbor in Focus,” an exhibition of photography created by students from Pierson High School, ... by Staff Writer

‘Voices of Youth’ Speaks Truth

OLA (OrganizaciónLatino-Americana) of Eastern Long Island recently commissioned a short film from Sag Harbor resident and college student Allura Leggard on the topic of mental health access for adolescents. “All quotes are directly from the recent survey we created for 12- to 29-year-olds asking about their middle and high school mental health challenges,” explained OLA Executive Director Minerva Perez. “We were so moved by the honestly and urgency, we wanted to share this in the most compelling way possible.” Local actors dramatized the anonymous comments and filmed each segment from their own homes while Leggard directed and edited them together. ... by Staff Writer

Artistic ‘Mysteries’ At Keyes Gallery

On Saturday, May 8, Keyes Art Gallery in Sag Harbor opens “Mysteries,” an exhibition featuring ... by Staff Writer

One Year Later, ‘Sylvia’ Returns to HTC

More than a year after it was first scheduled to open, “Sylvia,” by A.R. Gurney, ... by Staff Writer

Welcome to our new website!

To see what’s new, click “Start the Tour” to take a tour.

We welcome your feedback. Please click the
“contact/advertise” link in the menu bar to email us.

Start the Tour
Landscape view not supported
Send this to a friend