During its 47th Season, Saturday Night Live saw an exciting rotation of celebrity hosts and musical guests and many memorably funny and poignant sketches. However, on a more serious note, it would also turn out to be the final season for four of the sketch comedy series’ most valuable talents - including Kyle Mooney, whose unique, irreverent, and sometimes very dark brand of humor will certainly be missed.
In honor of the Brigsby Bear writer and star’s eight seasons on SNL before saying goodbye, we look back on what we consider to be some of his greatest hits on the series. The following are our picks for the Top 10 best Kyle Mooney sketches, ranked in ascending order, starting with one of his first-ever appearances on the show.
10. New Cast Member Or Arcade Fire
Kyle Mooney’s first SNL episode - also the Season 39 premiere - featured a game show-style sketch challenging host Tina Fey to guess which of two people presented to her were a new cast member or a member of musical guest, Arcade Fire. After Fey correctly guesses Mooney as the new cast member and not Will Butler of the Canadian rock band, the comedian then tries to introduce himself to the SNL alum in a very obscure way that Kenan Thompson immediately shuts down. However, the brief appearance was a perfect introduction to his signature brand of humor.
9. Awkward Flirts
Kyle Mooney’s signature brand of humor quickly became a definitive SNL highlight later that season with pre-taped bits like “Awkward Flirts.” He and Vanessa Bayer play neighbors who clearly have the hots for each other, but not enough courage to make the first move. It is a hilarious (and, often, horrifyingly) relatable portrait of how truly awkward flirting can be - complete with bad puns, unnecessary confessions of gross information, and embarrassing misunderstandings. Yet, it takes a less realistic, but still very funny and oddly sweet, turn by the end.
8. Kyle Vs. Kanye
Many of Kyle Mooney’s best pre-taped SNL bits (which actually make up the majority of our list) are short mockumentaries about his life at Studio 8H, such as this Season 41 segment in which he challenges musical guest Kanye West to a rap battle. Real footage from Mooney’s youth plays as he reveals he once dreamed of leading a hip-hop career before getting hired at SNL and he believes this duel is his ticket back into the game. However, his feeble attempt is miserably upstaged when West retorts with a “freestyle” that actually served as the debut of his The Life of Pablo track, “I Love Kanye.”
7. Dating Show (Hook A Hunk)
In yet another game show-style SNL sketch, Kyle Mooney, Beck Bennett, and Mikey Day compete for the affections of Michelle (Cecily Strong) on “Hook a Hunk.” However, things do not go as planned when Michelle, instead, falls immediately for the host - played by that night’s host, John Cena - leaving the contestants feeling pretty desperate. What really sells this as a classic is the conclusion, in which everything does seem to work out for everyone in the end (except for Day’s character, that is) in very unexpected ways.
6. Kyle’s Transformation
In yet another mockumentary-style entry, Kyle Mooney is disappointed when host John Mulaney does not ask him to participate in a sketch set in a male strip club - inspiring him to hire The Leftovers’ Justin Theroux to help him acquire a more muscular body to earn respect, admiration, and (mostly) a part in the strip club sketch. The mere concept of Mooney turning into a swole, rugged hunk (courtesy of some impressive makeup effects) for such a trivial reason is funny enough, but this is not even our favorite example of the performer undergoing an extreme metamorphosis on SNL for laughs. We will get to that one soon.
5. Bank Robbers
In this pre-taped sketch, bank tellers and customers are frightened when three armed men (Kyle Mooney, Beck Bennett, and Bobby Moynihan) barge in, until realizing these are the most polite and considerate criminals you could ever meet. It’s a clever play on how, in heist movies, the bad guys tend to pose a threat by using words that would otherwise sound kind in a different context. This time, however, they are speaking literally, such as when they say Kenan Thompson’s elderly character needs “help” getting down on the floor before providing him with a chair, or saying they want to teach a little boy “a lesson” before re-enacting a Civil War scenario.
4. A New Kyle
In, arguably, the best (and most wonderfully meta) of Kyle Mooney’s fake behind-the-scenes bits, the performer dishes on how he still feels unnoticed at the start of his sixth season, especially following the recent news of co-star Pete Davidson’s engagement to pop star Ariana Grande at the time. His solution: make himself more like the King of Staten Island star in every possible way - bleaching his hair, changing his wardrobe, getting a “hot celebrity girlfriend” (Wendy Williams), etc. When Mooney and Davidson’s inevitable conflict hits its peak, Kenan Thompson suggests settling it “the Saturday Night Live way,” which is when it takes an especially dark and hilarious turn.
3. The House With Chris Hemsworth
Another recurring pre-taped bit featuring both Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett is a parody of reality shows like Big Brother called “The House” and my personal favorite edition stars the MCU’s Thor actor, Chris Hemsworth, as Mooney and Bennett’s roommate. The trio are constantly finding themselves at odds over the slightest situations - such as whether they should order takeout for dinner or stay and cook. As a sucker for poking fun at reality show tropes, this is truly one of best examples I have ever seen.
2. He-Man And Lion-O
Another MCU Chris (who typically goes by his last name) who appeared on SNL with Kyle Mooney is Guardians of the Galaxy’s Chris Pratt, who plays another iconic hero - He-Man - alongside Taran Killam as Lion-O from Thundercats. In actuality, they are action figures brought to life by a wish from lonely birthday boy Danny (Mooney), who is disappointed to learn his new friends are just as intelligent as when they were still plastic. Things quickly go from child fantasy to adult fantasy when He-Man and Lion-O begin to learn more about what their human bodies are capable of.
1. Inside SoCal
Easily my favorite of Kyle Mooney’s many recurring pre-taped sketches (and the one SNL bit I believe best defines his style) is “Inside SoCal” - a deeply amateurish news program hosted by Mooney and Beck Bennett as a couple of young “bros” from the West Coast. My pick for the best of bunch, from Season 42, sees field reporter Keith (host Jonah Hill) covering the tragic news of Jessica Cabara (Cecily Strong) and her breast “reducshren” and using an increasingly ridiculous variety of nicknames for said anatomy along the way. I don’t even think that is the funniest part of this slice of bizarre bliss, and I would watch a whole series or feature-length adaptation of it.
Kyle Mooney has, luckily, brought his refreshingly bizarre humor to projects outside of Saturday Night Live, such as the 2019 film, Brigsby Bear (starring Mark Hamill), and the Netflix original series Saturday Morning All Star Hits, in which he plays two twin bothers hosting a weekly showcase of ‘90s-style cartoons. I, for one, am very excited to see where his post-SNL career takes him, but it is also fun to sit back and enjoy the classics above.
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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