News broke on Monday that Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah would not be returning to Saturday Night Live for this upcoming season. Killam’s departure deprives the show not only of a skilled impressionist, but also of a performer equally capable of carrying a sketch with his charm or standing in the background dancing weirdly.
“A big thank you for all the Love from my fans,” Killam wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning. “Loren [Michaels] was kind enough to understand I needed more time to dedicate to my undefeated @RamsNFL.”
In honor of his six seasons on the sketch show, take a look back at some of his best and most emblematic clips from Killam’s run.
1. Mokiki does the swish
By the time of his departure, Killam had become one of the most recognizable faces on SNL. His charming personality helped carry many a sketch over the years, but this insane bit from 2012 proved he could be captivating even when he’s just slobbering and doing a weird dance.
2. Jebidiah Atkinson has bones to pick
Modern media can certainly be scathing, but it’s nothing in the way of the newspapers of yore, which were often chock full of vitriolic rhetoric. Such is the basis for one of Killam’s most famous SNL characters, the aggrieved 1860s newspaper critic Jebidiah Atkinson. Nothing is immune from Atkinson’s fiery denunciations, not even A Charlie Brown Christmas: “No one wants to watch neurotic children trudging in the snow to smooth jazz.”
3. Detective Blazer gets caught
The growth of the Black Lives Matter movement and protests against police shootings over the past few years have motivated Americans to reexamine their relationship with the police. Killam hilariously parodies that here by playing a stereotypical “bad boy” detective… who only arrests black people. Eventually, though, the body cameras catch up with Detective Blazer.
4. Always Be Thumpin’
Dwayne Johnson is obviously the star of this double parody (live-action Disney adaptations by way of Furious 7), but Killam’s impression of Vin Diesel as Thumper steals the show. Like Pharoah, Killam’s impressions often clicked right from the start. ‘Cause I’m always thumpin’.
5. Alright, alright, alright
Matthew McConaughey’s Oscar acceptance speech already drew close to self-parody (“alright, alright, alright”), but that didn’t stop Killam from improving on it with his sharpened impression of the actor. Killam parodied the McConaissance by deploying philosophical-sounding nothings so smoothly they sounded like they could very well be lost True Detective dialogue.