We don’t get it. We truly don’t understand why Lorne Michaels and Saturday Night Live have decided to not bring back Taran Killam for a seventh season. This feels like a sports franchise suddenly deciding, right before training camp, to waive one of its best, most important players, even though the team hopes to be competitive this season and the player was under a great contract. Especially when said player can fit anywhere in the lineup and do anything and everything you ask of him.
It’s hard sometimes to know exactly what kind of viewer SNL is targeting. The variety of sketches on the show range from the fairly safe, non-offensive cold opens, to the completely surreal and bizarre “12:55 sketches,” with every type of comedy in-between. Utter silliness, on-the-nose social commentary, pratfalls, impressions–being on SNL requires a performer to wear a lot of
wigs hats, and few have been able to wear all of them as well as Taran Killam.
He was a classic “Mr. Everything,” the type the show has always needed to get through 90 minutes of live television every week. He could be the straight man in a sketch or the weirdest character imaginable. He could play politicians like Donald Trump and Paul Ryan, celebrities like Ashton Kutcher and Eminem, or weirdos like Charles Manson. And yet, somehow he is not returning for his seventh season, even though he was still under contract for another year.
Like we said: we don’t get it.
So to say goodbye to one of the most versatile cast members the show has ever had, we’ve put together some of our favorite Taran Killam sketches from the show, an array of performances that exemplify just how many roles he filled for a show that needs them all.
We know this is far from complete, and we might have left out your favorite, but with so many great sketches to choose from it was always going to be impossible. (Oh, and sorry for the ads, but we don’t want to embed videos that will get taken down.)
The Merryville Brothers
Killam was always great at playing super weird characters that required unusual performances, including here where he had to be a murderous carnival ride robot come to life.
Sometimes a sketch is stupid, but stupid in the best way possible. This is one of the cases, and Killam is the heart of the stupidity here.
It seems like everyone has a McConaughey impression these days, but no one can match the complete absurdity of Killam’s. It’s not even that he sounds like him, it’s what he says and how he delivers it–a rambling stream of nonsense and noise from a madman who seems to be playing an imaginary instrument.
The Legend of Mokiki and the Sloppy Swish
Everything about this is bizarre. Just so very bizarre. I don’t even think there is an actual joke here, it’s just Killam being weird and funny.
Rudy Guiliani/Michael Keaton
This sketch is one of my all-time favorites. This is the rare cold open that actually has something to say. It’s a parody of Birdman starring Rudy Giuliani as a disgraced former American idol who has hit new lows. Killam does this as Giuliani half of the time, but really kills it when he slides into his Michael Keaton. Watch his facial expressions as he goes through the hall, seamlessly going between two different impressions within seconds of each other. Not a lot of people can do this, let alone live on SNL to open the show.
Oh, yeah, we’re kind of big Star Wars fans here at Nerdist, so we had to include this one. We want to feel bad about how much we laugh at this, but we can’t.
Eddie the Overprotective Brother
It can be hard to make such a detestable character enjoyable, but Eddie was always a good one. Killam could hold an entire sketch through sheer force of will.