For some, television’s Saturday Night Live (SNL) has built stars in the film and television world. However, for every Bill Murray, there are 10 Darrell Hammonds— in other words, former cast members that are unable to capture success after being on the sketch comedy show. Unlike many, Andy Samberg who returns to SNL as host of the season finale, could very well be the next success of a former cast member, for he has the creativity and determination.
Unlike most who essentially made it to the legendary variety show through Second City and other sketch comedy programs, Andy Samberg made it to SNL due to his own creative genius. Immediately after graduating from New York University, he created a comedy troupe entitled The Lonely Island with his roommates Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer. As such, they began producing digital sketch comedy that instantly went viral.
Due to the continued popularity of the shorts, Samberg and company were commissioned to write for the 2005 edition of the MTV Movie Awards, which happened to be hosted by SNL favorite and current Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon. As a result, Fallon introduced the three to head honcho Lorne Michaels who gave all three a tryout. From the audition, Michaels brought Samberg on as a cast member, while he hired the other two as writers for the show.
During the 2007 season of the show is when Samberg shot to fame in a format he was quite familiar with — the digital short. Starting with the Emmy Award-winning “D*** in a Box” with Justin Timberlake, Samberg would create weekly digital shorts for the show that were not only popular but would immediately go viral following each episode.
Not surprisingly, Samberg would translate his comedic talents on the big screen while still on SNL by acting in Hot Rod and the popular I Love You, Man. In the summer of 2012, Samberg proved the rumors correct when he left the variety show to pursue other ventures, the first of which he stretched as an actor in the dramedy Celeste & Jesse Forever with Rashida Jones.
In the following year, Samberg took advantage of his freedom by taking guest star spots on several TV shows such as 30 Rock, while taking on bit parts in movies. However, it is this past year that saw the funnyman have his largest success as he joined the cast of the quirky Fox cop comedy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Shockingly, in its first season, Samberg and the show were not only nominated for Golden Globes, but they won the prestigious awards.
It makes one wonder–where will the success of Andy Samberg end? In only two years since his exit from SNL, he has created a successful career run between movies and his return to television. As such, it appears that the alumni may be following in the steps of former collaborators Tina Fey, Will Ferrell, and Amy Poehler.
If one looks at the successes, not only of the cast members he’s worked with but of almost all successful post-SNL talents, one thing is common and that is they were not just on-air talents but writers as well.
Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray, and Mike Myers all were made popular through segments of their own creation. Samberg is another that fits into this category as he is not content just as a hired gun. In fact, while he is not a writer for his current show, he is one of the producers.
Additionally, while he is more successful than his former roommates, he has not abandoned them. In 2009, 2011, and 2013, the three created various comedy albums under their original moniker The lonely Island. In fact, they have appeared live in front of audiences at various comedy festivals including the Wild West Comedy Festival in Nashville.
Despite everything going on in his life and career, Samberg does not appear to be slowing down. The assertiveness that led his creativity and humor to be discovered has not let him down. He is not taking anything for granted as he continues his comedy troupe, while producing his popular Brooklyn Nine-Nine, as well as increasing his clout through a myriad of film roles–whether small or large.
The former viral video creator has gone a long way in 13 years in the entertainment industry. As such, Andy Samberg refuses to be a bust, and he could not only be one of the few post-SNL success stories but possibly the most lucrative. For now though, his return to the show that made him famous should be one of the most successful episodes of the season.
Opinion by Simon Mounsey