10 of the Best Times SNL Found Their Inner Theatre Kid
Written by Alex Cumming
February 20, 2020
SNL is no stranger to the way of theatre kids, a lot of their cast and writers come from strong theatre backgrounds. Developing your sense of humor in these environments promotes both an appreciation and an ability to mock theatre kids, here are ten of the best times SNL cast members tapped into their truly theatrical side to unleash some of the show’s greatest moments.
10. Jack Sparrow:
In the digital short with Michael Bolton constantly interrupting the Lonely Island’s song with his adoration of Jack Sparrow is a perfect representation of when a theatre kid becomes obsessed with a new show and let it consume them. Continually bringing it up in conversation and not allowing those around them, forget just how intense their new fandom is.
9. David S. Pumpkins:
David S. Pumpkins has all the qualities of an actor who whips out all the surprises in a run-through. When others onstage are on edge unaware of what new trick the David S Pumpkins of the cast will pull out, they become the walking embodiment of ‘Strong Choice, Wrong Choice.’ Tom Hanks has all the frantic quirks and surprises of the most fun theatre kids in this sketch.
Often as hard as we try in theatre, there always seems to be those days where we can’t seem to get it right. In the MacGruber sketches, Will Forte tries his darndest to keep everything under control as a bomb ticks away. When MacGruber is questioned under pressure, he can get snappy and what theatre student hasn’t been in a crunch time situation where it seems everything they do worsens the situation.
7. Chris Farley Coffee freakout:
In the sketch where Chris Farley has been informed that his favorite coffee has been replaced with a decaffeinated version, he loses his mind. Theatre kids all have their rituals, and when someone comes in and messes with their routine, they can genuinely go ballistic. Farley being larger than life character himself lets go and reveals the anger theatre kids repress.
Who hasn’t been here? Placed next to the best dancer in the final round of callbacks knowing that with the person next to you dancing their heart out, your chances go out the window. Farley opposite Patrick Swayze pours his heart into his dance as we all have at some point or another. Backstage the two finalists complement one another insisting the other is the superior dancer when it’s been abundantly evident Swayze ruled the final dance. Farley is placed in a moment that is all too familiar to the wannabe dancers of the theatre world trying their hardest.
5. Debbie Downer:
The theatre strives to be a place of joy and positivity. However, ever so often, Someone comes around, and their presence draws all the energy out of the room. When the casting doesn’t go our way, or we didn’t nail rehearsal, it can be easy to fall into the trap of becoming a Debbie Downer.
4. Diner Lobster:
The writer of this sketch, John Mulaney, is well documented having a theatre kid upbringing, and this sketch is a theatre kid fever dream. With Kenan Thompson going full out as a lobster, Valjean condemned to boil alive, and the diner patrons in shock as the musical unfolds is the balance of an audience unprepared for the sheer ride of a musical and a seasoned actor giving it their all. Theatre kid energy pours from this sketch.
3. High School Theatre Show:
Of course, the SNL sketch that is directly calling out the antics of high school theatre would be on this list. All the cast members are in fantastic form as an ensemble of students taking their wildly unsubtle show about topics ranging from their basic improv skills to the climate of celebrity culture complete with techno transition music and black boxes. Every theatre kid has been through this, and it’s a right of passage.
2. More Cowbell:
Tell me if this sounds familiar, you’re in the midst of an important scene, acting your heart out and in the background is just one person who cannot seem to keep it serious for more than 15 seconds. The pure frustration that can come is perfectly shown through Will Ferrel’s bandmates, as Ferrell insists on banging his cowbell to an absurd degree. The rest of the band is not having it only for Will to be provoked further by the band’s producer. Perfectly representing when the onstage goofball is egged on by those not on stage and the director.
Stefon is the ultimate representation of how a theatre kid seems to the uninitiated. His calm yet manic energy, along with his knowledge and love of all the oddities of the world. He truly exudes theatre kid vibes. Stefon is based on Bill Hader’s experience with people he’d met like Stefon, and he took all the quirkiest qualities of theatrical people and brought it to the SNL stage.
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Alex Cumming is an actor and improviser based out of Orlando.