It’s hard to imagine what SNL will even look like next season, for a whole host of reasons. First of all, it’s a little depressing that we’re going to have to live through the next four months (basically the length of the Trump presidency to this point, which has felt like two years) without one of the biggest comedic weapons and the one that seems to irk Trump the most. (Though, Weekend Update is returning in August.) Also, who knows what the world itself will even look like by that point? If the last two weeks are any indication, probably nothing like right now.
And then there’s the fact that Vanessa Bayer and Bobby Moynihan have now left the show – two cast members who are already greatly appreciated, but the true depth of their contributions probably won’t completely be felt until the show comes back and they aren’t there anymore. It wasn’t just their known characters: both could also play supporting characters that maybe you don’t quite even notice is keeping the whole sketch together. (For an extreme example of this, rewatch the “Mafia Meeting” – aka “Space Pants” – sketch, Moynihan basically has to ad-lib his way through the opening moments when Jon Rudnitsky showed up late to the sketch. And then this went on to be a classic.)
Bayer brought an innocent quirkiness to her characters that always felt unique. Whether it was Jacob the Bar Mitzvah boy, or Laura Parsons, to even Dawn Lazarus, Bayer’s characters were always trying to please, no matter how absurd the situation. (And she was insanely great at keeping a straight face, which is why it was shocking to see her loose it a bit in last night’s episode during the “RKO Movie Set” sketch.) Her comedy was rarely broad and she wasn’t a boisterous performer. Her characters had a tendency to live in their own little world. And, my gosh, we are going to miss that world.
Back in 2009, I hadn’t been doing this job very long and Bobby Moynihan, in his first season, was the first SNL cast member I ever interviewed. After the interview, he threw it out there if I ever wanted to come to a show (which, at the time, I had never been) to just let him know. Looking back, I was a bit too naïve to realize that these kind of offers gets thrown around a lot in interviews. Things like, “Hey, if you’re ever in Los Angeles, hit me up.” Okay, sure, that will never happen. But Moynihan was serious, and a couple of weeks later, I got an email from NBC asking if I’d like to hang out in the writer’s room (which has a window that overlooks the stage and you can kind of, sort of see what’s going on) during the show.
Moynihan was still struggling to get on the air at this point (that didn’t last long) and he had a big sketch of his cut at the last minute for time, with his parents in the audience. It was a disappointing night for him, but he still took the time to come get me after the show and give me a tour of the set, which he certainly didn’t have to do, but did it anyway. Like a real tour, pointing out things like a beam where Chris Farley used to his head, prompting Farely to write himself a warning onto that beam, which is still there.
While giving the tour, I honestly think Moynihan was giddier showing me around than I was even being there. Anyway, I always thought that was very kind of him and I’ve never forgotten it. Bobby Moynihan is the ultimate fan of Saturday Night Live and he got to live out his dream for nine seasons.