As his third season on “Saturday Night Live” nears its end, Taran Killam has a lot of highlights to reflect on. For instance, there was the “Avengers” parody he co-wrote and appeared in with Jeremy Renner or the hypnotist sketch with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. But who knew that his year may be most remembered for starting a new dance craze?
It happened last fall, when “SNL” aired a video in which he played a pale, creepy homeless guy who hopped around New York City doing a shuffle called “The Sloppy Swish.” “I guess that’s the most beneficial thing about Twitter,” says Killam, laughing. “The dance went everywhere. You know something’s happened in your life when you even see school kids on vacation scooting around doing the Sloppy Swish.”
And he has a chance to trend again, since there are two more “SNL” episodes left for the season. That includes this Saturday’s return of ex-cast member Kristen Wiig. The comedienne who left the series after last season is hosting for the first time, and that’s made for an unusual but entertaining week for all those who knew her during her seven seasons on the show.
“Normally at the beginning of the week, we ask, ‘What’s this week’s host going to do?.’” Killam explains. “This week, it’s more like, ‘What’s the host not going to do?’ I saw her on Monday, which is the day we file into the office to pitch ideas, and it was odd because less than 20 episodes ago, she was on the floor with us. I’m sure it’s strange for her too. Somebody else is in her office now. Some people have new haircuts. It’s all so different…..”
He readily admits that Wiig is one of his all-time favorite “SNL” performers, but for XfinityTV.com, Killam also picked out five other former and current cast members who are guaranteed to make him laugh.
She really stood out for me in the early days of the show. She did “Weekend Update,” but she also did a lot of wonderful characters. The Coneheads stuff was a big favorite of mine. The banter with her and Dan Aykroyd at the “Update” desk was always great too. She could play it straight but then suddenly break out into a crazy character. I love performers who don’t do just one thing.
I used to have the “Best Of Eddie Murphy” VHS tape that I wore out completely, watching it over and over again. His “Buckwheat Sings” is, to this day, one of my all-time favorite sketches on the show. I also loved the one where he plays the Tooth Fairy. Like Jane Curtin he could do the straight character and then turn right around and play the crazy character. He was also a master of impressions. His Stevie Wonder is still one that just amazes me.
He had a reputation for being the utility guy, who could do pretty much anything. His Bill Clinton was a part of some of the best political sketches the show ever did. He’d do that, but then he’d do something odd like Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer too. No matter what he did, though, he always kept it together. I realize it’s fun to watch people on the show break but our job is to make others laugh, not ourselves. He knew that. Although one of my other favorite moments was seeing him playing Frankenstein with Tonto and Tarzan. You could just see that moment when he realized how stupid the bit was.
He created some of my favorite sketches of all time. He’d do anything crazy and weird. There was a video he did with Megan Fox, where he was a SWAT captain with this high-pitched voice! Then there was his awkward former valedictorian, Lyle Kane, who hosted a show on BET. The man is just a master! I remember years ago being at home, watching a sketch where he and Kristen played country singers who only sang about toddlers, spaceships, Model T cars and jars of beer. I laughed so loudly, I woke up my girlfriend.
The man is just a genius. I still feel that even with “Portlandia,” everyone is catching his wave but still hasn’t seen half of what he’s capable of. I have the good fortune to sit across from him at table reads of our scripts every week. He’s got this unique ability to identify a personality quirk in a character and expose it to the fullest. I stare in awe when he does his Nicholas Fein character on “Weekend Update.” He completely improvises those runs on the newspaper, yet it’s so specific and precise every time.