The Many Faces of Bill Hader

Mar 19
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Bill Hader

Saviour of comedy

Bill Hader is the saviour of recent seasons of Saturday Night Live. He is as funny as Kristen Wiig is unfunny. And he sure looks great with a moustache.

OK, so it’s no secret that my fanatic fangirling of Hader is a little bit creepy and very childish. But excessive declarations of devotion aside, few people who have seen him perform on Saturday Night Live or act in movies like Superbad and Adventureland can deny his uncanny ability to impersonate all sorts of characters, making us laugh like crazy in the process.

Exhibit A: Hader impersonates Al Pacino and Alan Alda in this short. Click image for video.

Now I’m by no means an expert on SNL. In fact, the only periods of the show that I would actually consider myself a fan of would be the Phil Hartman years, the Bill Murray years, and the current period, which is far from perfect. The writing is spotty, which wastes perfectly good talent. Kristen Wiig, for example, is frequently in skits with cheesy jokes, or with gags that go for way too long, eventually falling flat (*ahem* vacation giveaway skit?). But she’s a perfectly capable comedian and impersonator as she always commits 110% to her roles on the show. But I digress. Bad writing aside, Hader is one of the few cast members who can still triumph in the face of lifeless jokes and set-ups that are unimaginative and done-to-death. For example, Greg the Alien, a co-host on a sports show who is definitely not an alien; Dwayne Vogelcheck, a member of the Kissing family along with Kristen Wiig and Fred Armisen; and one of the “scared straight” kids lectured by convicts played by Kenan Thompson and the host of the week. As Greg the Alien, Hader himself is very funny despite the concept of the skit being very boring after the first viewing. And as a member of the Kissing family, Hader usually manages to incite a few chuckles even though the idea for the skit is nothing new and frankly, it feels like the writers think the viewers would just laugh at anything. Why else would they continue to do this skit?

Of course, I’m not alone in my thoughts. The A.V. Club reviews all current episodes of the show and most recent episodes have hovered around the C mark. Reading the comments section of the website brings me to a similar, albeit harsher, conclusion: SNL is inconsistent in its quality and jokes frequently fall flat. Many of the comments were left by ex-fans of the show. But one thing fans, ex-fans, occasional SNL lovers can all agree on is how they feel about this:

If you’ve never encountered the genius of Bill Hader’s “Stefon”, prepare to guffaw like you’ve never guffawed before. Also, don’t be surprised if you obsessively scour Youtube for every watchable Stefon video you can find. Created by writer John Mulaney and Bill Hader, Stefon is a party kid who appears on “Weekend Update” to suggest places of interest for tourists but always end up suggesting bizarre nightclubs with nightmarish characters. He is arguably one of the best characters on SNL at the moment and without a doubt the most popular. Hader frequently recounts being recognized in New York and asked about New York’s hottest night clubs by fans. And on Google Trends, searches for Bill Hader surge in popularity every time Stefon appears on Weekend Update.

Sadly there is no new SNL this weekend. But if you’re a fan like me and love ridiculous stupid stoner comedies, check out Paul, the new comedy with Hader, as well as Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Seth Rogen. This alien comedy has a decent rating of 68% on Rottentomatoes but I’m still not sure if I want to watch Seth Rogen as an alien doing “crazy” and “zany” things like eat birds and smoke doobies. I guess there’s always reruns….

In the meantime, I leave you with one last goodie:

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