Sometimes the memorable moments on “Saturday Night Live’ aren’t live. From Mr. Bill to “Lazy Sunday,” the late-night show has occasionally presented short films, and is collecting many of the best for a two-hour prime-time special airing May 17 at 9 p.m. EDT. Andy Samberg is the host.
For a program that has sliced and diced material for all manner of prime-time compilations, it’s the first time one is being devoted specifically to the short films.
“It’s great to be able to show all these great ones from the past to a generation that is not familiar with them,” Samberg said. “For me to do hosting segments and be able to (introduce) ‘Synchronized Swimmers,’ this is not just something that influenced me heavily but influenced everybody in comedy.”
That film featuring Martin Short’s water acrobatics was directed by Christopher Guest.
Samberg also remembers Eddie Murphy’s short film, “White Like Me,” where the actor impersonated a white man.
“When I was a kid and saw that, my brain exploded,” Samberg said. “It was like the greatest thing I’d ever seen in my life.”
Robert Smigel’s “TV Funhouse” was a frequent “SNL” feature, and the 2007 film featuring Justin Timberlake and a gift box won an Emmy Award.
But the granddaddy of “SNL” films featured Mr. Bill, a clay figure given a high-pitched voice and a tendency to meet untimely ends. Samberg, in his fourth season at “SNL,” may be better known for his work on short films than live skits. “Lazy Sunday,” a rap video about cupcakes and movies on an otherwise boring afternoon, became a sensation on the Internet and was key to the early success of YouTube.
Samberg has created several other films with partners Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer, including a rap song with Natalie Portman and “Iran So Far Away,” a tribute to Iranian President Mahmoud Amadinejad.
Samberg, Taccone and Schaffer were active posting comic videos on the Internet before joining “Saturday Night Live.” That wasn’t the work that got them a job on “SNL,” however. Samberg said the show’s staff noticed him when he wrote for an MTV awards show that was hosted by Jimmy Fallon.
Now Samberg is hosting MTV’s Movie Awards after the “Saturday Night Live” season ends.
Live or taped? Samberg said he doesn’t have a personal preference when he’s working on the show.
“It depends on the material,” he said. “I’ve had some of the most fun of my time here live in the studio. When something is really working in there and you’re feeling the audience’s energy and playing off each other, that can be kind of electric.”