Through a nine-year run on SNL, getting married, having a kid, and navigating life as an actor, Bobby Moynihan kept his little weed dealing manatee dream alive. And now, Loafy has been realized, first as a series of digital shorts for Comedy Central (with new eps dropping Saturdays at noon), but maybe someday something more. Plush ganja slinging sea cows? A Funko Pop? Anything is possible. But it all started with an idea.
We spoke with Moynihan about the origins of this story, how he’s lost touch with his sea mammal muse, used Comedy Central’s money to set up improv play dates that drive the bonkers comedy at the heart of Loafy, paying a right and full tribute to Mindy Cohn, and getting past the angst of leaving SNL to find peace during a pandemic.
How far back does this idea go?
I don’t know, a bunch of years. I’ve always loved manatees because my wife adopted a manatee for me for Christmas. And it’s been an ongoing joke since then. And I did UnMade for IMDB, I think. And they asked if we had any projects that we had been thinking about. And I pitched them that idea and made a video and then people found it there and here we are.
Are you still doing the manatee adoption thing?
Unfortunately, I don’t know if we resubscribed. My manatee’s name was Chessie. He was named Chessie because he was the first manatee found in the Chesapeake Bay. And you could go online and follow his whereabouts. He didn’t move a lot. But yeah, I think I have lost touch with my son Chessie.
That’s terrible. It’s sad… which is why we brought him out here today to talk to you! A nice Maury moment. [Ed. note: Chessie lived a hell of a life.]
[Laughs] Yeah, right.
I did one of those for my wife for Christmas a couple of years ago. The initial thing is like, “Oh, cool.” But they never call, they never write.
You could never tell if it was the same manatee in any of them. They all look different. But I will protect all the manatees.
I appreciate your heart.
So, the idea of putting him in a zoo, where does that come from?
I just thought it would be funny if he was a weed dealer and then it just started making me laugh. That he couldn’t leave his tank — he would be a terrible weed dealer. But then it was just like, his weed was so good and weed is still illegal in New York, so he can still work in New York. And I just love the idea of people breaking into a really shitty zoo that’s next to the Central Park Zoo that no one knows about. And they go there to get their weed from this manatee. And it’s funny and I was definitely stoned when I thought of it.
How do you sell the show to non-stoners?
In reality, the true reason why I did this show was because I missed improvising with my friends and I love animation, and I wanted to mix the two. So I thought it would be a fun idea because it’s very hard to do improv in animation. It costs so much. But going in from the start, we knew that we were like, “This episode is about Loafy trying to get a musical instrument for his son.” You don’t know what it will be. We just knew that going in and started improvising and kind of made the episodes from there.
So for someone who doesn’t smoke weed, if you just like comedy and improv and lots of fun comedians and amazingly talented people, that’s one reason to get into it. The animation style alone, I really enjoy. It’s a little offbeat and silly and weird on purpose. If you don’t smoke weed, it’ll be fine. And if you do, I think it’ll help tremendously.
So do you think it would be a gateway drug? Will Loafy turn me to the dark side of drugs and alcohol and womanizing and manatees?
I certainly hope not. And if it does, I’m going to go ahead and say that’s not true. Loafy shouldn’t be taken that seriously [Laughs].
You don’t want the controversy? You don’t want to see Ted Cruz tweeting about Loafy?
I don’t want Ted Cruz anywhere near Loafy.
Good answer. So this cast: how do you get Tom Green involved?
A lot of these guys are very, very close friends of mine that I just wanted to improvise with and wanted to play with. And then Gina Gershon and Tom Green are just people I kind of have met along the way. And went, “You know what?” Why don’t I call them? That would be interesting. I met Tom Green at a party and we just started talking and I remember thinking I want to see him do funny stuff again and thought, “Why don’t I give him a call and ask him if he’ll do this”? And he said, “Yes”. It was random. He was absolutely hilarious. One of the things he improvised, it ended up becoming like the end of the episode. It’s the Dungeons and Dragons episode coming out. And he’s the end of that. He was just fantastic. He knocked it out of the park.
I was thinking about one of the weed strain names. Mindy Cohn’s attorney. I’m curious what it takes to kind of find the exact right strain name because that’s so perfect.
I’ve always found it extremely fun just to make up dumb weed names. It’s just fun. And it’s especially fun to do on the spot. And I love a Mindy Cohn reference and she’s absolutely wonderful.
How many episodes do you guys have in the can? What are the plans for the future?
We’re writing a pilot for Comedy Central and we have eight episodes for Comedy Central Digital. With Loafy, it was something that I got to create and direct them and have my friends come do. On that level, I was looking to learn. I wanted to learn. So to get to do it on any level, I was almost happy to do it on a smaller level and only have shorts to worry about. And now we’ve kind of figured it out, figured out the world and what we wanted to do with it. And it definitely gets weirder as the eight go along and it evolves into something that I’m really happy with.
How is your relationship to expectations… from when you first left SNL to where you are right now and what you think you should be doing. How much is that a part of your thought process when you’re looking for your next project?
I mean, I think it’s different for everyone at SNL. I think SNL is a very specific journey for each person who goes through that place and comes out on the other end. I got married, had a baby. I had a lot of stuff in my life happen right afterward and was lucky enough to get work. And then the pandemic happened and now we’re waiting. So everything’s cool. [Laughs] I think I was a lot more nervous when SNL was ending. I was like, “Oh my God, Oh my God. SNL‘s ending. What’s going to happen? What’s going to happen?” And now I’m like, “Well, I’ve got a three year old. SNL was fun. I’m glad I’m alive and healthy. And I’m going to use this time to spend with my family because I’m not up until seven in the morning writing skits.
I can’t even imagine how one would be able to do that with a kid and a relationship. From everything I’ve ever read and anyone I’ve ever talked to, it is your kid. It is your relationship.
Yeah. I met my wife a week before I got SNL.
And we got married right as I was finishing because we couldn’t. It was like, I was married to SNL. And then she was on Broadway. It was like, my day off was Sunday. Hers was Monday for nine years. Then the second we were done, we were like, “Let’s get married.”
Pre-SNL, were you involved in the whole Human Giant MTV 24-hour takeover thing that they did back in 2007?
I was not. I just watched it all unfold. I knew those guys from UCB and from the UCB touring company. Me and my friend/writing partner at the time, Charlie Sanders, we tried to write some sketches with them for one episode or something. We just went in for punch ups. It wasn’t like a thing or anything. I knew them very little.
What was the feeling at the early point in your career… You did some of the Late Night with Conan stuff, which I imagine is more like a day player kind of gig. It’s not like you’re in the writer’s room with those, right? It’s just like an acting assignment.
Yes. It was very much like, “You’ll take a hundred bucks to dance around in your underwear?” Please. It was very much of that. [Laughs]
So there are no deeply rewarding mentor relationships that are being formed with that, it’s just, “Here’s a job. Go get it.”
Yeah. I would’ve paid them to do it.
Can you talk a little bit about the community in that era? Pre-SNL in terms of just support and leaning on people.
It was beautiful! I mean it was the place where I met my wife and all my friends and we stayed there every night till the morning because we loved it and because we loved comedy and we all met people that we liked. And that was when it was wonderful.
Do you have hope that it’s still going to be able to be that for people going forward post-COVID?
Yeah. I mean, I think comedy communities will always pop up. There’s always going to be comedy nerds. They’re always going to find each other.
‘Loafy’ is streaming on Comedy Central’s YouTube channel with new episodes dropping Saturdays at noon ET.