Live from New York - it’s Bobby Moynihan!
Whatever you do, don’t call Bobby Moynihan’s gig as [a] “Saturday Night Live” cast member an overnight success story.
It’s been a long journey for the 31-year-old Eastchester native, one that began on the Eastchester High School stage, continued at the University of Connecticut and gained momentum through Manhattan’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.
“It’s so funny, people are like, ‘You got this big break out of nowhere,’”Moynihan said in his office, sandwiched between the 30 Rockefeller Plaza rooms belonging to veteran player Darrell Hammond and “SNL” head writer Seth Meyers.
“I’ve been doing comedy for eight years. I’ve been trying really, really hard to get here.”Moynihan’s mother, Julie, said her son had played Santa Claus in a class show when he was in third grade but didn’t consider acting as a potential career path until he was older.
“In the beginning, it was just to have fun and be with his friends,” she said.
In 1990, Moynihan auditioned for the first time to be in an Eastchester Youth Council summer theater production. He was cast as the Scarecrow in “The Wizard of Oz,” the first of many shows he’d do with EYC.
Bunny Rappaport and her daughter, Susan, have served as producer and director, respectively, for all 25 EYC shows. They saw the funny faces he makes in Studio 8H years earlier, when he played Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof,” Alfred Doolittle in “My Fair Lady” and a cross-dressing gangster in “Kiss Me, Kate.”
“I can’t think of anything more gratifying to watch a young boy who started (acting regularly) in seventh grade mature into what we knew he had in him,” Bunny Rappaport said. “I always felt that he had that comic background.”
During the school year, Moynihan performed with the Eastchester Players’ Club. His two favorite EHS roles were dramatic ones: Randle P. McMurphy, the lead in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” and Judas in “Godspell,” which required him to whirl around the stage in rollerblades.
Moynihan worked most of his teenage years as a lifeguard at Eastchester’s Lake Isle Park.
“Every time it rained, we would just grab garbage bags, poke two armholes and a head hole, and go out to the golf course and slide down the golf course in the pouring rain,” he said.
After studying acting at the University of Connecticut, Bobby trained, toured and taught with the UCB Theatre - cofounded by “SNL’s” Amy Poehler - and became a standout performer with several house teams, most recently with The Stepfathers.
“I started UCB a couple months before Amy got ‘SNL,’ and I started ‘SNL’ six episodes before she finished,” he said. “She created the theater that I started at, and you just look at her and you’re just like, ‘This is amazing.’ I owe a lot to her.”
After graduating from UConn, TV beckoned- slowly. His shoulder appeared on the short-lived Alan Arkin vehicle “100 Centre Street,” then Moynihan got some face time (but no lines) on an episode of “Law & Order.” His resume reel picked up when he voiced the character of Rabbit on the Fuse animated comedy “Empire Square,” showed up repeatedly for bits on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and hammed it up in ESPN commercials.
The Internet helped as well. He made a cameo in a comedy viral video, “Bro Rape,” which has more than 5.5 million views on YouTube. And [summer 2008] he appeared in the Seth Meyers-directed comedy Web-series “The Line,” featuring “SNL” cast members Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis.
Moynihan spent two years prepping for his first - unsuccessful - “SNL” audition last year in front of series creator Lorne Michaels, Meyers and casting agents. Those results left Moynihan “devastated,” he said, but the free time allowed him to act in two movies due next year.
Soon after wrapping production on “When in Rome” - he plays the best friend of Josh Duhamel’s character - Moynihan got another shot at “SNL.” He had only four days to write all new material for “the most important six minutes of your life.”
“I freaked out,” he says. “I didn’t sleep for three days.”He developed bits for his impressions of Nathan Lane, Jack Black and “Snagglepuss at a swingers’ bar.”
With an Aug. 13 phone call, Michaels told Moynihan he had made the cut. He said he spent much of the afternoon in disbelief sitting on a park bench near Eastchester Town Hall.
What was his mother’s reaction? “Just shock, disbelief, happiness,” Julie Moynihan said. “All the emotions you would feel when you want your child to have their dream.”
In his “SNL” debut, Moynihan was grateful to lead a full-length sketch that featured Poehler and centered on the flamboyant Mark Payne, a pepper-obsessed character inspired by his bartending work at Pizzeria Uno in Yonkers.
“I honestly think the only reason it got on was because Michael Phelps was hosting,” he said, adding that athletes are not expected to carry sketches the way trained actors do.Moynihan’s mother, who still lives and works in Eastchester, watched the debut with close friends and family.
“We just realized the dream when we heard his name announced,” she said. “I think everybody in the area of Huntley must have heard us.”
As the credits rolled for that episode, a jumping Tina Fey - whose Sarah Palin impersonation returned a bright spotlight to “SNL” - pointed at Moynihan with both hands. Since then, Moynihan has done sketches with Anne Hathaway, Anna Faris, James Franco, Josh Brolin, Jon Hamm, Bill Murray, Maya Rudolph, and Palin herself.
“‘I don’t want it to end.’ I already am like, ‘I wish we had 50 episodes,’” he said. “It’s the greatest. I could not be happier.”From: