Bobby Moynihan is everything you’d expect and more—jolly, humble and classically funny, devoid of any unnecessary comical bells and whistles.
We had a chance to speak with the Saturday Night Live cast member about his upcoming Just for Laughs show, #TalkOfTheFest, which he’s co-hosting with fellow SNL funnyman Taran Killam July 25th at Club Soda.
This isn’t your first time performing at Just for Laughs. You were here in 2007 with sketch comedy trio, “The Buffoons”. What was that experience like?
It was amazing! At that time, we were still fresh to the comedy game and very eager, so to be involved was pretty amazing. To come out to Canada to hang out with some of the best comedians in the world was an incredible time, definitely the thing that started it all for me, at least.
What are you most looking forward to doing when you arrive in Montreal?
Well, the show itself. I’m really excited. Taran and I get along really well in that atmosphere. The crowds in Montreal are always so awesome, so I’m looking forward to doing that.
Tell us about #TalkOfTheFest. What can audiences expect?
I’m super excited! Taran and I are going to come down and host two shows. We’re introducing some other acts as well, which will be fun. I like interacting—I remember when we [The Buffoons] did our show at Just For Laughs and David Cross and Bob Odenkirk hosted and did bits with us. That was just the best, so I’m willing to do stuff with the other people in the show. I think a couple SNL characters that Taran and I do might show up…
How would you describe the dynamic between you and your co-host, Taran Killam?
The second he got hired for Saturday Night Live, we became pretty fast friends. We got along extremely well and I think we have similar sensibilities in comedy, so we just hit it off immediately. Some of my favourite sketches I’ve done on the show were with Taran.
Let’s go back to the beginning—how did you get your start in comedy?
I was an acting major at the University of Connecticut and then I moved back to New York and started doing Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City, which was Amy Poehler’s improv school. So I started that in 2000, and just started doing improv and sketch every night of the week for ten years and then met a bunch of people that were like-minded and it just went that route.
How has your extensive experience in improv shaped your style of comedy?
Well, I think it helps in everything—auditioning has gotten a lot easier because you don’t have that fear once you’ve been up on stage and have made up an entire show for an hour. It also helps with the writing process too, just sitting around and improvising, and then getting up on stage and improvising, then going to write it down and see where you go from there. I wouldn’t be on SNL if it wasn’t for Upright Citizens Brigade.
Who are some of your comedic influences?
Probably Bill Murray, Chris Farley, I really like Phil Hartman. I was very big into Jim Carey—I know Taran is too. I remember when he met Jim Carrey, he went nuts! It was his be-all end-all. I also really liked Jonathan Winters when I was younger. Mr. Show was very big for me too.
Were you one of those kids who stayed up late watching SNL, thinking, “I want to be on that show someday”?
Ya, I definitely was [laughs].
So how did you react when you were asked to join the cast?
It still hasn’t really sunk in yet! This past year, it became fun and easy—well, not easy… it became fun. The first couple years, I was terrified of losing my job because you get there and you can’t believe it and you’re so excited and you just don’t want it to go away. Now, I’m having a good time, and I’m relaxed.
At SNL, you work alongside legendary celebrity guests. Have you ever been so starstruck to the point where you were almost too nervous to perform?
Ya! It’s weird. It’s not to the point where I’m not able to perform, but it’s one of the best parts of SNL—every week, they bring in somebody that you’ve admired for years and get to play with them and ask them to do dumb things for you in your sketch. I remember being blown away when Jim Carrey showed up. I don’t think I really realized I watched his entire his career my whole life. I remember being very nervous for Katy Perry for some reason. She was actually very very nice and wonderful. I wrote a sketch for her and I, which she worked on and really liked. Jude Law was really amazing too. It changes every week. When you’re walking down the hallway and Paul McCartney walks by—that’s the thing that blows your mind. Not only did I just see him, but he knew who I was and said hello.
You’ve concocted many characters like Drunk Uncle and Janet, and you’ve also done killer impersonations of Snooki and Guy Fieri, among others. Who do you like playing most and why?
Guy Fieri’s a lot of fun just because it’s high energy and you can go crazy and do anything. I’ve spoken to him a couple times and he seems to love it. Hopefully, one day we’ll be able to do something with him on the show. I get weirded out by political impressions. I don’t like those because I don’t know much about politics. I played Honey Boo Boo’s mom, which was also really fun. I’d like to do that again someday!
There are quite a few members of the SNL family performing at this year’s Just for Laughs festival. Any chance there might be a collaboration of some sort?
If we’re all in town at the same time, I hope so! I mean, we’ll see if we can get that to happen. I don’t know if we’re all in town the same night, but if that’s the case, Seth [Meyers] can’t stop us from running and jumping onstage, so we’ll probably do it!
Do you have any projects in the works?
I’m in Grown Ups 2! I’m also in this movie called Delivery Man with Vince Vaughn, which comes out in October. And I’m working on part two of the series Chosen, that’s going to be on the new FX channel. A couple other things—I’m in Seth’s [Meyers] new cartoon called The Awesomes for Hulu. A bunch of SNL people are in it too. It’s going to be like an SNL cartoon.
What’s it like to make the transition from theatre, to SNL, to series and films?
Improv and SNL aren’t that different, because they’re both improv, except one is televised. But going into movies and stuff also isn’t that different. I think I’m acclimating well! I find them both very rewarding and fun, so I’m in no rush to leave SNL, but doing movies is an added benefit. Anything after SNL, I’m pretty happy with. I could get hit by a bus tomorrow and be very happy with how everything went!
What makes you so humble?
Well, it’s very hard to get there.
Now that you’ve gained so much recognition, where do you think you’ll be in say, ten years time?
Wow, who knows! Honestly, I’d be fine if I was still on SNL. I’m going to try to beat Darrell’s [Hammond] record.
Bobby Moynihan and Taran Killam are hosting two #TalkOfTheFest shows July 25th at Club Soda– one at 7pm and 10pm.
The first show will feature Todd Barry, Josh Rabinowitz, Brent Morin, Ryan Belleville, Jon Reep and Darrin Rose. The second will feature Chris Ramsey, Rich Hall, Perry Perlmutar, Erica Sigurdsen, Joe Lycett, Cristela Alonzo and Andrew Lawrence.
Click here for tickets.