Nearly a decade after launching the revolution, Andy Samberg returns to reign over the world he created.
Let’s back up. Samberg joined the cast of SNL in September 2005, just a month after his 27th birthday. Nobody really knew who he was, though, until December 17 of that year, when The Lonely Island’s second-ever Digital Short, “Lazy Sunday,” premiered – and almost immediately became an Internet sensation. Sure, it helped that the short’s debut coincided with the rise of YouTube, which had launched in February of 2005, and its “white guys rapping about mundane stuff” premise gave plenty of fodder for homages and parodies – but really, “Lazy Sunday“ ‘s popularity doesn’t need to be explained. It became a sensation for one simple reason: Even nine years later, it’s still really, really funny.
Post-“Sunday,” Samberg became one of SNL’s most valuable resources. Natalie Portman’s rap, “Laser Cats,” “Dick in a Box,” “Jizz in My Pants” (sensing a pattern…), “Sergio,” “Shy Ronnie,” “Threw It on the Ground,” “Jack Sparrow” – they’re all the work of Samberg and his collaborators, and all rank among the best things the show’s done in the past decade. What’s more, with their catchy tunes, casual profanity, and absurd sensibility, they’re all tailor-made for the Internet generation. One could argue that Samberg and the other men of The Lonely Island are responsible for keeping SNL relevant as it stumbled into the 21st century. I’m not sure if I buy into that line of thought, but it’s clear that their viral aptitude had an enormous impact on the show, one that’s lived on even after Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone left SNL behind.
Saturday Night Live has never been entirely live; pretaped commercial parodies have been a part of the show’s DNA from the very beginning, and one of season 1’s recurring features was a series of short films by Albert Brooks. Yet since Samberg and friends hit pay dirt with “Lazy Sunday,” it seems that more and more of SNL’s big moments come in pretaped material rather than live sketches. “The Beygency,” “Dongs All Over the World,” “28 Reasons,” “Do It in My Twin Bed” – they’re all clear descendants of Samberg’s work, as well as some of season 39’s most successful sketches.
So it’ll be interesting a) to see what Samberg has planned for tonight’s inevitable Digital Short, as well as b) how he performs in the live sketches that were never his bread and butter. (Besides his regular Weekend Update appearances as Nicolas Cage, which were always incredible.) Cameos, too, will definitely be a major factor tonight; we know that Seth Meyers plans to stop by the taping, even if he never appears onscreen, and since Samberg’s last uncredited SNL appearance came when Justin Timberlake hosted last March, it’d only make sense for JT to return the favor by breaking out his Color Me Badd suit once more.
What (and who) are you hoping to see as SNL wraps up its 39th season tonight? Are you excited about the musical stylings of St. Vincent, or are you not actually sure who St. Vincent is? (Short answer: She’s an indie rock chanteuse with some seriously awesome hair.) How do you think the show will handle this week’s most important news story – by which I mean Solange/Jay-Z/Beyoncé’s elevator incident? And finally, how would you grade season 39 as a whole? We’ll be discussing that in more detail after the episode airs, of course, but you may as well begin the conversation now.
Talk it all out below, and check in the morning for my full recap.