Bobby Moynihan of 'Saturday Night Live' answers 20 questions

Bobby Moynihan of Eastchester joined the "Saturday Night Bobby Moynihan of Eastchester joined the "Saturday Night Live" cast in 2008. His famous characters include celebrity impressions of spiky-haired Food Network chef Guy Fieri and Marlboro native Snooki (who told Newsday Westchester she thought his impression of her was fantastic), as well "Weekend Update" staple Drunk Uncle. Photo Credit: Getty Images

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If you ever wanted proof that Bobby Moynihan always wanted to be on "Saturday Night Live," go back to his roots in Eastchester.

As a teenager, he'd take the Eastchester High School stage to brush up on his acting chops as a member of the Players Club, for which he had star turns in "Godspell" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." And during those summers, when he wasn't making his fellow lifeguards laugh at Lake Isle Country Club, he was often a lead in the Eastchester Youth Council's summer theater productions, with lead roles in "The Wizard of Oz" and "Fiddler on the Roof."

Joining the "SNL" cast in 2008 proved to be a dream come true for Moynihan, 35. But a lot has happened since, and not always when the cameras are live from New York.

Newsday Westchester chatted with Moynihan this week for a 20-question Q&A. In the process, we learned about his favorite sketches, moments and behind-the-scenes insights.

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Newsday Westchester: What was your favorite "SNL" sketch before you were on the show?

Bobby Moynihan: Oof, before? Um, wow, there are so many. Just right off the bat, I'll go Maya Rudolph, singing the national anthem. It's just one that consistently, always makes me laugh.

Which Eastchester personality from your upbringing would make the best "SNL" character?

Ooh, boy. [Long pause] I don't want to say the name, but one of my bosses at Lake Isle was pretty Tom Selleck-y. He was pretty "Baywatch" before "Baywatch" existed, except he worked at a country club in Eastchester.

Before you snagged "SNL," you did a lot of character work on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien." What was your favorite character you played there?

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I did a bunch, but the first one I did, I was fat Darth Vader, and I was lying on Conan's desk, with [fellow comedian] Charlie Sanders dressed as Obi Wan Kenobi. It was one of those driving-desk bits [when O'Brien used a green screen to "drive" his desk out of the studio], and it was one of my favorite moments of my life.

What's the most memorable aspect of the phone call from Lorne Michaels that you'd made the "SNL" cast?

I was in bed when I got the call. He woke me up, because I thought I wasn't going to get the call for a long time, and then he woke me up and called me. And I just remember running [to the park] across the street from [Eastchester] Town Hall and sitting on a bench for a half an hour [to let it sink in].

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But do you remember what he said?

To be honest, I don't really remember anything, except I remember realizing what he was telling me, and the only thing I could say was, "You just made my day." And he paused for a minute and I'm pretty sure he said, "Well, let's hope it lasts longer than that. OK, I'm going to let you go. You seem tired." I remember that moment, because I was being like, "OK, I've screwed this up already."

What do you most remember about the moments leading up to your first line on "SNL"?

I remember sitting there, looking at Amy [Poehler] and [host] Michael Phelps and thinking, "I'm about to be on camera on 'Saturday Night Live' for the first time. I can't believe this." And then I looked up at the monitor. You know how they do those bumpers, in the middle of a commercial break, they'll show like five seconds of a sketch getting ready? Well, I looked up at the monitor in the studio, and as I was thinking, "This is about to happen; my life dream is about to come true," I see myself look up at the monitor and I see myself fixing my bow tie. And I'm on the monitor for that, and I instantly thought, "Oh! Oh no! The first thing I ever did on 'SNL' was look stupid, fixing my tie." ... But then, 10 minutes later, in the middle of [Will] Forte's dancing coach sketch, I was sitting on the ground while he was dancing, thinking, "I used to watch that sketch, and now I'm in it." And that's when it hit me.

What's the most nervous you've ever been to meet an "SNL" host or guest star?

Megan Fox and Katy Perry, I was just really nervous around. I think they're wonderful people, and I enjoy their work, but they're also very beautiful people in real life, and I acted like a 15-year-old boy in front of them. But I had wonderful experiences with both. Most excited? Seeing Jim Carrey for the first time was pretty nuts. I was like, "That's Jim Carrey!" ... It's more the experiences afterwards: You meet someone, and you're like, "Holy crap," and then you see them afterwards, and you're like, "Oh, I did something with this person." That's nuts.

What's the craziest or funniest "SNL" after-party story you're allowed to tell me?

My very first after-party was probably the most crazy out of all of them, because it was my first one after having been on the show. It was at Ruby Foo's, and I sat down at a table by myself and ordered food, because I was just starving. And I couldn't believe what was going on, and while I was eating Beef Udon, a parade of insane [people walked by]. It was like the best meal ever. It was like a celebrity cameo meal. I just sat there and ate dinner, and Chevy Chase came over and said, "Great job." And Jared from Subway came over. And then Guy Fieri came over and punched me in the chest and was like, "Be on my show!" And I was like, "What the hell is happening? I'm trying to eat my Beef Udon." That was just the most bizarre. ... And the most scandalous story is when Taran Killam burned down a strip club one night.

Speaking of Guy Fieri, what's been the best reaction from someone you've impersonated on "SNL"?

Just recently, meeting [New Jersey Governor] Chris Christie was one of the coolest things in the world. He was the most generous and wonderful guy in the world, and then three days after the show, my mom called me up saying, "I just got a letter from Chris Christie, addressed to me and your father, saying what a wonderful son you have." And I was like, wow. Chris Christie is a class act, man.

Of your own "SNL" characters, which is your favorite?

Right now? Oh, God. [Laughs] Drunk Uncle is probably the funnest to do right now, by far, just because the process of writing it is the funnest part in the world. But I have a secret place in my heart for -- I really want to try and bring back either Janet Peckinpah, this weird character I did with Channing Tatum or this weird guy Kirby, who loves his kitty cat. Those are sticking in my head. But anything I do in the show, I want to do a million times.

What's the hardest time you've had not breaking into laughter during a live broadcast?

Jason [Sudeikis] jumping on the desk at the end of one of the Scared Straight sketches. At the beginning of the week, we know he's going to do something crazy, but the one when he jumped way too hard and high, and sent the pencil holder flying, and the look on his face when he turned back [at it]. It wasn't even like "I'm gonna break," it was more like I was proud of Jason because he looked so happy.

Which three "SNL" hosts would make the best regular cast members?

There's always the favorites like Jon Hamm and Justin Timberlake, and all those guys, but I mean, I'm going to say a different one. Bruno Mars was pretty tight. Anne Hathaway is always great. Jude Law was really good, and could easily take on a Jason [Sudeikis] role. He was one of the people that I remember just being like, everything we threw at him, he was like, "Yup, got it." He was pretty great.

Who are your most frequent writing partners at "SNL"?

Colin Jost and I write a lot; we write the Drunk Uncle [bits] together and the Anthony Crispino [bits], and we've written a bunch of stuff together. Most of my Top 10 ["SNL" moments] were written by Brian Tucker. That guy is the best. I wrote a lot with Christine Nangle, and now I'm writing a lot with Neil Casey a great deal. I wrote the Kirby sketches with John Solomon.

What is your favorite drag character you've played on "SNL"?

I've played a lot of them [including Snooki, Rosie O'Donnell and Mindy Cohn], but I'm going to go with Janet Peckinpah.

You were a massive Pearl Jam fan in high school. What was the coolest thing about appearing with them in a sketch inspired by a famous "Twilight Zone" episode?

Just standing on the wing of the plane in that [monster] outfit at dress rehearsal and just seeing Pearl Jam walk towards me, and just knowing that in a couple of seconds I was going to be like, "So, yeah, what you guys are going to do is jump on the wing of the plane and we're going to make this crazy face. Thanks, guys!" And just remembering Eddie Vedder walking toward me and thinking, "What am I gonna say?" and him being like, "Bobby! Hey!" And I'm being like, "What the hell just happened?" That's my favorite picture in the world.

What's the best celebrity impersonation by an "SNL" host?

Wow. Oh, boy. Justin Timberlake does a hilarious Michael McDonald. He did these Michael McDonald McDonald's commercials [that never aired]. They were hilarious. It was Michael McDonald singing about his new restaurant called McDonald's, and how he was sorry that the prices were so high, but he has a lot of legal bills from being sued by the real McDonald's. My favorite line? At one point he sings, "We also have Chicken McNuggets / I think they're $49.99."

What was the best reaction you received from appearing opposite Allison Williams' character on HBO's "Girls"? Bonus points if it's from her father, former "SNL" host Brian Williams.

He was very complimentary about it, but the best thing that anybody ever said to me [about it]? I was coming out of a deli, and some woman saw me, and kind of loudly went, "Hey, is you the priest from 'Girls'?" And I was like, "Yeah." And she went, "You're stupid!" And she just walked away. It was amazing.

You've been appearing with fellow comedians Chris Gethard and Neil Casey in "Sidecar," a Web series about underwhelming superheroes who hang out at a bar. What's been the best part of that experience?

Tricking Neil Casey and Chris Gethard to spend three days in a dark bar with me, hang out.

What's the emotional ride been like since you joined the "SNL" cast in 2008?

Going through the motions of your life dream coming true and it being so magical, and then realizing that it's a job -- and then realizing that it's a hard job. And then realizing that you might be going crazy, and then you're realizing that you're not. And then realizing that if you just have a good time and relax that it's fun. And then realizing that you can actually do it and have a blast. And then watching all these people that you know you're going to know for the rest of your life [who can] justify that you're not going crazy.

If you had to pick one person to host "SNL" -- someone who hasn't hosted since you joined the cast -- who would it be?

Probably Bill Murray. One of those moments I'll never forget was [when he made a cameo], and right when [Chris] Parnell said, "Live from New York" ... everyone started piling out and at the exact same time, me, Jason, Kristen [Wiig] and Bill Murray just jumped down into the middle of the set to run and get changed, and he just stopped for a second and looked at all of us, and he just started busted out dancing to the music. And, instantly, so did Jason, Kristen and I. We just danced for like 20 seconds. And then Bill Murray just looked at us and went, "Oh, God, I miss this." And he just ran away. And I was like, "Holy crap. That was amazing."

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