Matt Villines, the comedy director best known for his work on Saturday Night Live as half of directing duo Matt & Oz, has died of cancer at the age of 39. Villines and his partner, Oz Rodriguez, are responsible for directing some of the best pre-taped sketches in the post–Lonely Island era.
Villines moved from Oklahoma to L.A., where he met Rodriguez at film school. The two shot videos for an early version of SuperDeluxe.com and posted videos on Funny Or Die, before they were offered jobs there. At Funny Or Die, the duo was responsible for such hits as “The Wire: The Musical,” “Charlie Sheen’s Winning Recipe,” and the site’s spot-on parody of David Bowie and Bing Crosby’s “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” duet.
Villines and Rodriguez joined SNL in 2012 and quickly worked on some of the show’s best sketches of the last four seasons. Matt & Oz had their hands in classics like “Darrell’s House” (in case you’ve never seen it, here’s part one and two), “Sad Mouse,” “Monster Pals,” “Back Home Ballers,” and “Jay Z Story.” Adept at the weird and melancholic, their sketches feel particularly grounded and humane, even when the premise is Mike O’Brien walking around New York in a monster mask or Bruno Mars in a mouse costume.
In 2014, the duo directed Taran Killam in the Lorne Michaels–produced feature Brothers in Law, which has yet to be released. Earlier that year, Villines was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, which had started in his kidney. O’Brien wrote in an Instagram post yesterday, after learning the news of Villines’s passing, “He taught me a ton about filmmaking and even more about being kind even when you’re stressed or frustrated or sick.”
Below you can watch some of the incredible sketches he directed: