The first Digital Short, “Lettuce,” aired on “SNL” on December 3, 2005. It’s about Andy Samberg (one third of the Lonely Island, who wrote, directed, and starred in a majority of the Shorts) and Will Forte discussing the death of a buddy while chomping on, well, lettuce. It’s not very good; I remember watching that episode live and thinking to myself, “The hell is this?” Two weeks later, on December 17, Digital Shorts began to make sense. That’s when “Lazy Sunday” premiered and a sensation began.
But six-and-a-half years later, with 100 of them filmed and aired, it’s likely that the “SNL” Digital Short is no more. Rumor has it that Andy Samberg is leaving the show after this season, and one would assume that means the end of the idea that, honestly, rejuvenated the show (or at least made it relevant). The clips were intended to go viral; they often went viral, with “Lazy Sunday,” “Dick in a Box,” and “I’m on a Boat” being three of the Internet’s most popular and recognizable videos.
So, to honor Digital Shorts (which, sadly, haven’t been good this season), and “Lazy Sunday” in particular, here’s a list of the thing the Lonely Island has always done best: the 10 Greatest Digital Shorts’ Songs.
Digital Short: “Space Olympics” by Andy Samberg
Original Airdate: September 13, 2008
Reason: Adding “space” in front of a word = instant comedy. Space boobs? Classic. Space fart? Legendary. Space Olympics? Awesome.
Digital Short: “Jack Sparrow” by Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, and Michael Bolton
Original Airdate: May 7, 2011
Reason: Who knew Michael Bolton had such a sense of humor about himself? Plus, the song’s hook is legitimately great.
Digital Short: “Dick in a Box” by Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake
Original Airdate: December 16, 2006
Reason: The most popular Digital Short of all-time isn’t the best, but it’s still damn funny – and believable. Not so much the dick-sticking-in-box thing (although…), but replace “dick” with “ring,” and “Ring in a Box” would have been a smash hit for Color Me Badd in the early 1990s.
Digital Short: “Mother Lover” by Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake
Original Airdate: May 9, 2009
Reason: “While you’re in my mother, make me another brother/And while I’m in your mother, I’ll never use a rubber.”
Digital Short: “Lazy Sunday” by Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell
Original Airdate: December 17, 2005
Reason: Totally unexpected and has remained more relevant than the movie it namedrops, The Chronic-WHAT-les of Narnia. (It’s also impossible to say The Chronic-WHAT-les of Narnia without adding the WHAT.)
Digital Short: “I’m on a Boat” by Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and T-Pain
Original Airdate: February 14, 2009
Reason: White guys making fun of rap clichés shouldn’t be so funny. But “I’m on a Boat” works because rather than satirize easy targets like bling, the Lonely Island amped up every rap video stereotype. Instead of having sex with three beautiful ladies, T-Pain’s gonna f*ck a mermaid. It was nominated for a Grammy.
Digital Short: “I Just Had Sex” by Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, and Akon
Original Airdate: January 18, 2010
Reason: Because when you think about it, guys, isn’t it amazing any woman would want us on top of, let alone inside, her?
Digital Short: “Laser Cats: The Musical” by Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, Carmelo Anthony, and Elton John
Original Airdate: April 2, 2011
Reason: It’s cats! With lasers! And Elton John singing, “Pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy cats”! And Carmelo Anthony acting…like Carmelo Anthony. ‘Melo’s enthusiasm would be offended by an exclamation point. And yes, Laser Corgis would have been better.
Digital Short: “A Day in the Life of Natalie Portman”
Original Airdate: March 4, 2006
Reason: “I’m busting dude’s valves like Gushers, motherf*ckers/Pull up to NBC and smack the sh*t outta Jeff Zucker.” I love Natalie Portman so much.
Digital Short: Jon Hamm playing the saxophone shirtless, a la Greasy Sax Man from The Lost Boys
Original Airdate: January 30, 2010
Reason: Just read the Digital Short description again. Greasy, shirtless Jon Hamm parodying Greasy Sax Man from the legendary film The Lost Boys. What’s that smell? Comedy greatness, my friend(s). Comedy greatness.