Jason Sudeikis Shares The Story Of How His Hilarious Dancing Skills Led To Him Being Hired As An ‘SNL’ Cast Member

Whether you know Jason Sudeikis best from his days on Saturday Night Live or as the star and co-creator of the critically acclaimed Ted Lasso, you’re undoubtedly aware of his mad dancing skills. And it turns out that that fancy footwork is what got him hired as a performer on SNL in the first place.

In “SNL Stories From the Show,” Sudeikis shared that while he originally auditioned as a performer on the series—at the urging of Jeff Richmond, Tina Fey’s husband—he was offered a role as a writer, which led him to believe he had blown it. “I was confused, because I had just figured out how to write for myself,” Sudeikis recalled. “I had imposter syndrome.”

Sudeikis lucked out in his early days as a writer, getting two sketches on the air in his first two weeks as a writer—one of them being then first-time host Justin Timberlake’s Punk’d parody. In his third week, Sudeikis got to write a piece (with Robert Smigel) for his uncle, Cheers star George Wendt. “And then I went like 10 weeks with jacksh*t. But I loved the rewrite table.”

While Sudeikis felt honored to be a part of the SNL experience, it prevented him from performing and also forced him to live apart from his wife at the time, which he relayed to Lorne Michaels. The conversation took place on a Friday night in April 2005, just ahead of a season 30 episode that was hosted by Tom Brady with Beck as the musical guest.

Sudeikis recalled that Beck “for some reason had a hype man next to him, just dancing buck wild—going crazy,” which gave him an idea. Sudeikis and several of his fellow writers had written a Behind the Music parody of “The Super Bowl Shuffle” with Brady playing Jim McMahon. “The premise was that they did ‘The Super Bowl Shuffle,’ it was a huge success, and they tried to do another one, and then [McMahon] went solo. And when he went solo, I would just dance behind him.”

You can probably see where this is going.

Sudeikis decided that he would do his version of going buck wild behind Brady’s McMahon, “which was doing all these ‘90s hip-hop dances I knew how to do from being one of the few white kids on a predominantly Black basketball team in my high school basketball days.”

Because Brady’s hype man was such a prominent role, there was a discussion about having a cast member take it on. Smartly, everyone realized that no one else would get the laughs that Sudeikis did with his dancing. Which is what ultimately led Michaels to offer him a role as a performer, and became one of Sudeikis’ signature moves.

“So that’s how I ended up in the cast. That same frigging dancing that people love from ‘What Up With That’ is the same frigging dancing I did as a 16-year-old kid trying to make my teammates laugh.”

You can watch the full video above.