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Kids Today! ‘SNL’ Star Bobby Moynihan on Drunk Uncle’s Origin

The funnyman also sheds light on the creation of Anthony Crispino, plus his Chris Christie and Guy Fieri impressions

bobby moynihan saturday night live

Dana Edelson/NBC

The December 17, 2005, broadcast of Saturday Night Live changed the sketch comedy world forever. On that evening, The Lonely Island (Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone) debuted their second digital short – the first to become a near-instant viral YouTube sensation – "Lazy Sunday." Eight years later, as cast member Bobby Moynihan explains it, Lorne Michaels' landmark late-night series is still dealing with the consequences. "These days with the web, you can burn out a character really quick," says Moynihan, a six-year veteran of the show. "So my biggest problem is being really protective of these characters, especially over Drunk Uncle, because I love them." Here, he offers a glimpse behind his most cherished characters, narrating their origin stories in his own words. Blaine McEvoy

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Drunk Uncle

"When I was at Upright Citizens Brigade, I would pretend to be a sad, drunk rapper," says Moynihan, who moved from the renowned sketch comedy troupe to SNL's Studio 8H in 2008. "I'd do this drunk voice just to make my buddy [the comedian] Chris Getherd laugh. Then one day at SNL – this is many years later – I said that I had the best character in SNL history and wrote a sketch for 17 straight hours. I was a suit salesman. When I finally finished at seven or eight in the morning, Colin Jost – one of the head writers  now – said, 'I need to write a Weekend Update thing. You got anything?' So I said, 'I don't know, man, maybe a Drunk Uncle-type thing? I can do this drunk voice. . .' And we wrote it in 15 minutes. Still, I thought, 'That will never get in. I'm going to work on this suit salesman thing.' Well, suit salesman bombed, Drunk Uncle got on the show and I've done it 10 times now. But he's changed. At first Drunk Uncle was very calm and quiet – very sedate. Now its about trying to go as crazy as possible."

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Anthony Crispino

"Just like Drunk Uncle, Colin Jost came to me one night saying, 'I need to write an Update sketch. What about a second-hand news guy? Someone who gets his news from terrible sources?' I said, 'That's brilliant' and immediately went into Anthony's voice. The only thing I added was the looking around, because I think it's funny when you're saying nothing that's a secret to look around as if you shouldn't be saying it. We called him Angelo Scaggs at a dress rehearsal but changed it when Colin said, 'I have a buddy I went to high school with named Anthony Crispino.' I actually met the real Anthony Crispino last summer and I was pretty happy about it. I said, 'Do you mind if I get a picture with you?' He looked around just like Anthony Crispino and said, 'Shouldn't I be asking you that?' I still don't know if he was doing a bit or not."

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Guy Fieri

"This is a crazy story. My first SNL episode was with Michael Phelps and Lil Wayne. And if you go back and watch the monologue – it was supposed to feature Barack Obama, but we couldn't get him – it was with William Shatner. But if you watch it, Guy Fieri is sitting in the front row. He just got tickets and he came to see the show. At the after party, he ran over to me, punched me really hard in the chest and screamed, 'Yo! You gotta do my show!' One of the writers, John Solomon, came up to me afterwards and said, 'You have to play that guy at some point.' And we tried for a long time to get it on. I don't think he was big at that time, but then he started doing those T.G.I. Friday's commercials. Once people started noticing him, Lorne [Michaels] said, 'Okay. I've seen him on TV so I know who he is.' When it finally aired I made a 20 layer bean dip inside of a toilet bowl. There were nickels, cigarette butts and a lot of weird things in there."

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Chris Christie

"In the first episode of my third season, Amy Poehler hosted and Katy Perry was the musical guest – sorry, I'm a big nerd about the show – and we did a sketch about The Expendables. At that point, somebody said, 'You're going to play Governor Chris Christie.' And I said, 'I have no idea who that is!' I'm very bad with politics. Somehow that went away and I ended up playing Hurley from Lost. Then once Christie started getting more notoriety, everyone said, 'We should have you play him.' I've played him a couple times now and he's really nice. He actually sent my mom and dad a letter – that was a class act. But playing a President is currency at SNL, so I hope he runs for President and wins for my job security. My contract runs out next year, so if he announces his run that'd be wonderful."

In This Article: Saturday Night Live, SNL

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