Bobby Moynihan was part of one of the most heartbreaking episodes of Saturday Night Live last week. Before Kate McKinnon took the piano as Hillary Clinton for an emotional rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” to start the show, the cast was working overtime to find the humor in America’s decision to elect the most inexperienced, openly racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic President in history. It wasn’t easy to be funny, but the show must go on. I talked with Bobby Moynihan about the election fallout, David Pumpkins, and the Secret Life of Pets.
What was it like putting together the show last week?
It was crazy. It was very chaotic. But as Lorne always says, we don’t go on because we’re ready, we go on because it’s eleven-thirty. So, we had a show to do and making people laugh is what we love to do, so it was time.
Did the show change significantly after the election results came in?
Tuesday night is our writing night into Wednesday, so there was definitely a stoppage of work for a couple of hours as the results were coming in, but just as normal, whatever happens at SNL, we’ve gotta get the show done at a certain time. I’m sure some stuff changed, but a lot of the stuff isn’t written yet at that point. Many people say the show gets done in a week, but they don’t realize it’s more like three days.
Wow, that’s crazy. I imagine it must have been pretty emotional.
Yeah, I think it was emotional everywhere, including here. Everyone just banded together and got the work done.
It was an amazing show, it was beautiful.
Thank you, it was fun to be a part of.
What do you think a Trump Presidency means for the future of Saturday Night Live?
Who knows. Everyone is in the ‘who knows’ phase right now. I mean we never know what we’re going to do next week, so to have this on top of it, is just another hurdle we have to get over.
Is Drunk Uncle coming back or do you think it’s too soon?
I don’t know, I never know. We’ll see, hopefully. It’s kind of a hard one to do right now, but we’ll see.
What’s it like to do comedy on this level when you’re feeling deeply sad?
It’s certainly harder, but that’s our job to make people laugh. I think a lot of comedians would agree that they make themselves laugh so that they don’t feel sad. We just try to focus on what we do best and get everyone to laugh again and laugh with us.
Speaking of getting people laughing, do you have any behind the scenes stories for David Pumpkins? I watched that sketch more times than I’d like to admit. Never stopped being funny.
Mikey Day, Streeter Siedell, and I sat down, because we write together a lot and we enjoy working together, and we kinda just came up with that silly idea at 5am and it morphed a couple of times into different things. We just liked the idea of someone showing up, and the reason they showed up, is because they did.
Did you have any idea that the sketch would be as well-received as it was?
No, I don’t think you ever do. I mean some of the best surprises at SNL are when you write something and people really enjoy it. It felt kind of similar to the “undercover boss” sketch that Mikey and I and Taran Killam wrote where we just wanted to write a sketch about Star Wars and people really enjoyed it. It was fun to have people dress up as Matt at ComicCon and stuff. I don’t think we ever write to have a reaction like that, we just kind of write what we think is funny. The beauty of SNL is that sometimes even something that weird can just be magical. I think it also had something to do with there being all this very heavy election stuff and then all of the sudden it’s just Tom Hanks in a dumb suit and skeletons. I think it’s what people needed at the time.
Absolutely. I think you hit the nail on the head. I actually used to intern at SNL and was the there the first year that you started. I remember your very funny first year in 2008 from my place on the couch. Has much changed since then? Do you feel like you have the hang of it?
I’ve been lucky enough to see – you know when I first started Amy and Darrell were here and it was a completely different place and even more so this season it feels very different and new. But yeah, you just kind of keep going with it. There are rules with SNL and they change every week. It’s not the same show ever. Depending on the host, depending on different things that could possibly happen. It never feels like you’re doing the same show.
The Secret Life of Pets is coming out on Blu-ray and DVD on December 6th. How did you prepare for the role of Mel the pug?
I spent six months in an animal shelter. No, I watched some pug videos and rethought the character a little. Originally he was written as more of a lady’s man, but the director and I worked together and decided he would have a lot of silly pug energy.
Do you have any pets?
If you did own a pet, which animal would you choose?
A manatee. I don’t know how I would keep it, but I would like one.
Any last words?
Be good, everybody be good. Watch the show Saturday, hopefully we can make you laugh.