Kyle Mooney isn’t try­ing to be him­self

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - LORI MCCUE

“Satur­day Night Live” cast mem­ber Kyle Mooney admits that the idea of stand­ing at a mike and telling jokes about him­self makes him un­com­fort­able.

“I def­i­nitely am more ob­ser­va­tional of the peo­ple around me and how they in­ter­act and less in­tro­spec­tive about my­self,” says Mooney, 32. “I just don’t know what I’d say as my­self.”

Thank good­ness Mooney, who cowrote and stars in the up­com­ing film “Brigsby Bear,” has a hand­ful of other peo­ple he can pre­tend to be when he takes the stage. Since join­ing “SNL” four years ago — and even be­fore that, along­side cast­mate Beck Ben­nett as part of the YouTube com­edy group Good Neigh­bor — Mooney has been build­ing an arse­nal of re­cur­ring char­ac­ters based on his love of pop cul­ture and the reg­u­lar folks he comes across.

Q: What can peo­ple ex­pect from your live show?

A: We want to keep it a bit of a sur­prise, but ba­si­cally peo­ple will be see­ing me do­ing a va­ri­ety of char­ac­ters and we’ll show some videos. Dave McCary, who I’ve worked with on all my videos and at “SNL” and who di­rected “Brigsby Bear” — we’ll be shar­ing the stage at parts. It’s char­ac­ters that fans of my stuff would rec­og­nize, ei­ther from “SNL” or videos.

Q: What do you see as the through-line to all these char­ac­ters?

A: A lot of the char­ac­ters I play seem to be ly­ing to them­selves in some way. They maybe present them­selves as con­fi­dent or good at some­thing, but in re­al­ity it’s clear that they don’t know what they’re talk­ing about.

Q: It’s also clear you love TV — you’ve writ­ten dig­i­tal shorts about things like those VH1 “I Love the 90s” spe­cials, re­al­ity shows and sit­coms like “Fam­ily Mat­ters.”

A: I love (ABC’s 1990s pro­gram­ming block) “TGIF” and that stuff. But if you watch it from an­other per­spec­tive that’s not just lis­ten­ing for laugh lines, it be­comes a very ab­stract, al­most psy­che­delic thing. You can get an­other layer and re­al­ize, “This is ac­tu­ally re­ally weird.” Q: Do you still watch a lot of TV? A: I think my first sea­son on “SNL” I watched ev­ery sin­gle episode of “Step by Step,” and a few years prior to that I watched ev­ery sin­gle episode of “Fam­ily Mat­ters.” Now it’s just get­ting to a point where I’m find­ing more ob­scure shows from that same era. One that I was get­ting into this year is this Dis­ney Chan­nel show from the late ‘90s to early 2000s called “Bug Juice,” which was all about mid­dle school-aged kids go­ing to sum­mer camp. I’m fas­ci­nated by ado­les­cence and that time in which kids are flirt­ing with each other and you’re awk­ward and you don’t re­ally know what you are.

Q: I’ve seen spoil­ers, but I think “Brigsby Bear” (open­ing in limited re­lease July 28) is best seen when you know as few de­tails as pos­si­ble. So is it giv­ing away too much to say that you star as a man who de­cides to re-cre­ate a chil­dren’s TV se­ries that was im­por­tant to him grow­ing up?

A: That works. Ide­ally, that’s the way ev­ery­body sees the movie, but un­for­tu­nately just with how pro­mo­tion works and trail­ers and re­views, not ev­ery­body will get to have that ex­pe­ri­ence. We’ve fought cre­atively from the be­gin­ning to main­tain as much mys­tery as pos­si­ble. At the core I think it’s a sweet movie, and there’s a strong theme of friend­ship and mak­ing friends.

Q: Did mak­ing a sweet movie feel like a tran­si­tion from the writ­ing you do for sketches or videos?

A: I en­vi­sioned the movie in my head as darker and weirder, but then in the process of writ­ing it, the movie that it be­came was re­ally nat­u­ral. I got to kind of em­body the char­ac­ter as we were writ­ing, so maybe I en­joyed be­ing in that sweet­ness. When we first started show­ing the script to peo­ple, they were sur­prised, as well, that that el­e­ment is there.

Q: What was show­ing it at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val like?

A: Sur­real. The big­gest ques­tion I had (go­ing in) was, “How will this trans­late?” But it was re­ally pos­i­tive. I’ve made a ca­reer out of stuff that I fig­ured my friends would like, you know? So to play the movie in front of not just in­ter­na­tional au­di­ences, but also a room full of — in my eyes — gen­uine grown-ups was in­trigu­ing. See­ing peo­ple I wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily have thought of when we con­cep­tu­al­ized it en­joy it, that was re­ally spe­cial.

THIBAULT CA­MUS, SONY PIC­TURES CLASS

Kyle Mooney cowrote and stars in the up­com­ing film "Brigsby Bear."

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