Bobby Moynihan on his new sitcom and favorite SNL characters
You’ve gotten used to seeing Bobby Moynihan on your TVs every Saturday. But are you ready for him on a weeknight?
This week finds the former Saturday Night Live star making his debut in CBS’s Me, Myself & I, a Monday-night family sitcom in which he, John Larroquette, and Jack Grazer (recently of It fame) all play the same character, Alex, at different stages in his life. We spoke to Moynihan about the new show as well his favorite memories from his old one — including the kind parting words he got from Lorne Michaels during his exit interview.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What drew you to this project?
BOBBY MOYNIHAN: I got the script from CBS, I sat down, I read it. And I thought it was really interesting. After coming off nine years of playing crazy characters, I loved the idea of playing a 40-year-old new dad. It was a much more grounded role for me. And it’s something that I’m actually going through right now, being a new father, so it felt right. I thought the script was the perfect balance between super funny and very heartwarming and sweet — and, at times, heartbreaking.
Tell me about working with John Larroquette and Jack Grazer to play the same character. Did you guys coordinate at all?
Yeah. We sat down together and went over a couple little mannerisms. I’ve watched John Larroquette my whole life, and there’s a couple little things he does that I tried to mimic. Jack is quite possibly a better actor than both of us already. He’s really good. We have a lot of scenes that mirror each other almost. I’m kind of in the middle, trying to follow Jack and trying to do stuff that John does. But we’ve set up a couple mannerisms that we do. And that’s in the pilot. Even though we’ll probably never get to work together on screen, we’ll sit down and have these little powwows where we go over some stuff and try and get stuff similar.
Alex, the character you guys all play, is an inventor. What’s the best invention idea you’ve ever had?
I’ve always wanted a belt that played theme music when you walked in a room.
Well, that’s great. So the show depicts your character’s exploits back in middle school. Do you have a favorite middle school memory?
I have a very distinct memory of sneaking into the art classroom and taking a bunch of paints and paintbrushes and going downstairs and painting The Simpsons on the wall in the hallway. That needed to be done. I remember I didn’t get in trouble. I kind of just got a “What the hell were you thinking?” And then they made me change the Duff beer to Duff soda. But they left it there for many years, and I was very happy.
The show takes place in 25-year increments. When you were in middle school, what did you think you’d be doing 25 years later?
Pretty naïvely, when I was in middle school, I think I hoped I’d be on Saturday Night Live. And I can’t believe that it came true.
The most advanced period of time the show depicts is the year 2042. What do you think the world will be like in 2042?
I hope better. I hope we learn from our mistakes of the past — the past couple years or the past year or so. Yeah, I hope better. I mean, technology is advancing so much right now. It’s funny, because there’s scenes in the show about self-driving cars in the future, and I’m like, we kind of already have that! So, I have no idea. But I hope we’re all much nicer to each other. And I hope we’ve figured out that people matter more than anything.
So you lived in New York for a long time before your recent move to L.A. Are you enjoying it?
I’ve been here a week. I’ve lived in an apartment building my entire life. And now I panic a lot about garbage day. Today, I was greeted by police officers because I screwed up the ADT and opened the door when I hadn’t disarmed the thing yet, so I was greeted by cops this morning. I’m an idiot. I’m learning a lot about living in a house! And I learned that if you live in L.A., everyone wants to tell you about what farmer’s market to go to.
Tell me more about your last year on SNL. Was it emotional?
Yes, it was emotional. It was my life’s dream. I wanted to be on that show for many years and I feel lucky that I got to do it. And I feel even luckier that I got to be there for that legendary year. When I first started, my first episode was the first time [Tina Fey] did Sarah Palin, so I came in at an amazing time and I left at an amazing time as far as fans go. I feel like I got lucky and got to go to space camp. I feel like SNL is like a roller coaster. It has its ups and it has its downs and to be there for both and to leave on what felt like a really big upswing was… I felt very, very, very lucky to be there that year.
Did Lorne give you any advice when you left the show?
Not really advice as much as just like… you know, you have your talk with Lorne when you’re leaving, and you think about it for years [beforehand]. Like, what am I going to do in that meeting where I have to tell him I’m going? Or, really, ask his permission to leave. [Laughs] It went a thousand times better than I thought it was going to go. I had built it up so much in my mind. He’s one of those people where you’re afraid to talk to him and then you do and you realize he’s just a really, really, funny, nice, brilliant man. He said the five things I’ve always wanted to hear him say and it was perfect. It was a perfect meeting.
Well, what are those five things?
Well, he very dryly said, “Well, of course, stay in touch. We’ll be friends. We have to see each other at reunions. Hopefully the show will do well and you can always come back if you need to.” And all of the fun personal things [he said], I want to keep that for myself. But there’s always that. I was involved with something amazing. Hopefully I’ll do it again, come back and host someday. But you don’t hold on to that ever. You hope for the best.
You’ve been making SNL for so many years now and I know it must be exhausting. How do you compare the process of making a sitcom to the process of making SNL?
Polar opposites. You do SNL because you love it and you want to be a good soldier for Lorne and you want the show to be amazing. So far on sitcoms, I’m realizing that as far as SNL goes, I feel like I’ve won some sort of weird lottery that I’m not supposed to tell anybody about because… well, I’m not saying sitcoms are easy. It’s still very hard work, but you’re treated very nicely. There’s no 39-hour days. You’re treated very nicely on SNL, but in a different way. You’re rewarded with being on the show and being able to perform and write and see it a week later. With a sitcom, the pacing alone is just… I got my schedule recently and they were like, “We’re so sorry the schedule is so hard.” I laughed out loud. I was like, this is shockingly easy.
Do you still get a lot of Drunk Uncle requests out and about in the world? Or people shouting SNL stuff at you?
I got shouted out as Ass Dan recently and that made me super happy. And somebody screamed, “Now that’s a Star Trek!” That was from a very obscure sketch that I did in my last season, so I was very happy. But it only happens every once in a while. I don’t leave the house much right now, so I haven’t been getting it as much.
Is there a character or impression that you miss the most?
It wasn’t necessarily the most remembered character, but I really, really loved doing the character Janet Peckinpaugh, which me and Brian Tucker used to write. It was kind of one of my favorites. We only got it on, I think, twice. We did it a couple times. It was weirdly one of my secret favorite characters.
It was just this weird, middle-aged woman that kept trying to sleep with celebrities. I just thought it was a funny character. It was real fun to do and I had fun writing it with Brian. I’ll always miss Anthony Crispino and Drunk Uncle and all those, but some of those little, minor, obscure ones that I only got on twice were just so weird. Like Kirby the Astronaut and his kitty cat. I can’t even believe Lorne let those get on the show. I can’t believe I got those on. Those are the ones that deep down I’ll miss the most.
Me, Myself & I premieres Monday at 9:30 p.m. ET on CBS.