As you may have heard by now, Taran Killam won’t be returning to SNL this coming season (you can read our interview with him about it here), and while he’s moving on to bigger and better things, including directing a movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger, his presence will be sorely missed during that Saturday night timeslot. Killam first joined the cast of SNL in 2010, and after six seasons, he proved to be a dynamic, reliable presence, managing everything from physical comedy, musical numbers, and playing the straight man when a sketch called for it. Here’s a look back at some of his more memorable sketches on SNL.
It starts out like a typical emotional goodbye as a father drops his daughter off for her first year of college, Killam even manages to tug on the viewers’ heartstrings when he tries to bargain for another year of high school from his daughter (host Dakota Johnson). He keeps that watery-eyed gaze going all the way through the moment when ISIS pulls around to pick her up. Sure, it’s a bit of a shocking twist that even Killam had to defend, but sometimes him playing it straight is what held a sketch like this together.
Undercover Boss At Starkiller Base
Adam Driver may have stolen the show as Kylo Ren going undercover as Matt the radar technician, but there’s some real, palpable joy when bonafide Star Wars nerds Bobby Moynihan and Taran Killam show up as a First Order Stormtrooper and Officer, respectively. Killam even gets to flex his dramatic skill a tiny bit when discussing the loss of his son to the Stormtrooper program. Sure, his character doesn’t make it out of the sketch alive, but getting to die in a sketch that may as well be considered Star Wars canon is something he gets to have on his resume for the rest of his life.
Bikini Beach Party
This sketch builds up to one expected (albeit hilarious) moment, but Killam is note-perfect as the ’60s beach movie leading man, the ideal combination of earnest and just the right amount of creepiness. Not to mention the simple fact that no one can deliver the line like “I’m blinded with whale guts” better than Killam.
Taking advantage of host Martin Freeman, SNL put together its second Office-inspired digital short, this time riffing off the original British series. Most of the cast plays it straight, awkwardly mumbling around their cubicles in Tolkien-esque costumes, but Killam skillfully uses his role as Gollum/Gareth, ramping up his shirtless, manic desk-jumping just often enough to prevent total overkill.
A cranky, foppish TV critic from the 1860s who showed up periodically on Weekend Update to give scathing reviews about whatever was going on that week. Killam’s delivery transforms a one-note desk character into one that people watch the show hoping to see, like Drunk Uncle and Stefon. Atkinson’s reviews were pretty spot on sometimes, too. Shame, it would have been amazing to hear his review of Suicide Squad or the election.