“I've always felt that if something is polarizing, that's usually the stuff I like the most. If something is taking a chance and is willing to be weird, that's my favorite thing. I know there's somebody out there who hates it".
Andy Samberg broke onto the entertainment scene when he was hired at Saturday Night Live. He was a cast member there for seven years before transitioning onto a more traditional sitcom in Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He is also part of the rap-comedy group known as The Lonely Island. A writer, rapper, performer and all around charming dude, Samberg is your typical Californian—warm, funny and laidback. Enjoy these 25 humorous facts about Mr. Andy Samberg.
1. Better Than "The Filthy Island," I Guess
Samberg is part of a comedy troupe named The Lonely Island. Along with his friends Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer they produce music, films and write jokes together. They’ve put out four rap comedy albums including their debut Incredibad. They also wrote together on SNL where they popularized Digital Shorts like "I’m on a Boat," "Like a Boss," and "Lazy Sunday".
For those curious about the name, the apartment they all lived in together after college was nicknamed “The Lonely Island".
2. Ghost Like Swayze
We’ve all had those days—you know, the ones where you wake up in the late afternoon and then call your friend just to see what they’re doing. And then you go see your favorite movie, The Chronicles of Narnia. Pretty typical day really. Though when most of us do it, it’s just another lazy Sunday, when Samberg does it, it’s an internet phenomenon.
Given that the song was downloaded over a million times the day after it aired on SNL, that’s exactly what it became: a phenomenon. "Lazy Sunday" was the first viral Digital Short (though it was technically the second overall—the first was Will Forte's sketch "Lettuce"), and with lines like: “Mr. Pibb + Red Vines = Crazy Delicious,” it’s easy to see why.
3. Award Tour
As surprising as it may sound, Samberg is a Grammy-nominated artist. He, along with his Lonely Island pals, was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for the song "I’m on a Boat" (feat. T-Pain) in 2010. Unfortunately, they would lose out to Jay-Z for "Run This Town". I was rooting for you boys.
4. Blink and You'll Miss Him
Though Samberg has appeared in a number of blockbuster successes, you may not always notice him, as many of his appearances have been "blink-and-you’ll-miss-it". In Grown Ups 2, he along with other SNL alums play male cheerleaders. In the film Neighbors, The Lonely Island play the inventors of the toga party.
In The Watch, The Lonely Island appear together in what can only really be described as a pleasure circle. You may infer from that what you’d like.
5. End of an Era
Samberg and his Lonely Island buddies, Schaffer and Taccone, managed to popularize a new segment at SNL—Digital Shorts. In the seven years that Samberg worked at SNL there were 110 Digital Shorts, the majority of which were written by at least one member of the trio. When Samberg left SNL in 2012 it signaled the end of the Digital Short era. I’ll never forget you, Laser Cats.
6. Staying on Brand
Samberg is among the lucky few who have had the honor of hosting a night dedicated to rewarding the finest in television entertainment. He hosted the Emmy Awards in 2015, and in typical Samberg fashion, he started with a prerecorded video that morphed into a song (he was a little pitchy though, he should really stick to raps).
7. Sometimes Meet Your Idols
Like so many of us, Samberg counts "Weird Al" Yankovic among his heroes, and it’s easy to see how Yankovic was able to inspire him: The Lonely Island’s specialty is funny songs, who better to learn from than the master himself? Though they say never meet your heroes, apparently Weird Al measured up, and Samberg has called him “one of the nicest people I’ve ever met". Just two awesome dudes forming a friendship.
8. Punch It Up
Hot Rod was Samberg’s first film, and he not only starred in it but also rewrote the original script with Taccone and Schaffer. The film was written by Pam Brady (who also wrote for South Park) and was intended for Will Ferrell to star in. The Lonely Island felt like they needed to rewrite the script as it was hard not to picture Ferrell in the lead role.
The end product veers more toward The Lonely Island’s comedic style with heavy improvisation, random songs and all-around ridiculousness. A brilliant choice, I could see no one else executing an ultimate punch quite as well as Samberg.
9. Mmm Whatcha Say
The "Dear Sister" Digital Short, or as some may know it, “Mmm Whatcha Say,” was written by The Lonely Island and was inspired by an episode of The O.C. The video became iconic, mainly for its utter absurdity and the popularity of The O.C. at the time. On the video’s popularity, Samberg said, “What we learned was that the sort of cinema and TV trope of the gunshot off-camera and somebody, in slo-mo, seeing blood on their own hands and realizing it’s them was more popular than we realized".
10. Monster Mash
Samberg plays the part of Jonathan in the Hotel Transylvania movies, an affable dummy who stumbles upon Dracula’s castle and a horde of supernatural characters much to their dismay. About the character, Samberg says "Jonathan is pretty much based on who I was in high school. Super positive in the face of adversity, even maybe when he shouldn't be". Samberg also co-wrote and performed a song on the soundtrack, "Sweet 118".
It really consists of just four lines, but still impressive nonetheless.
11. Favorite Things
Samberg counts Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks as his favorite album of all time. He’s also a fan of the BBC series Sherlock. As for favorite SNL musical guests: “Arcade Fire kill it every time they’re there. Beyoncé was one of the craziest performers I’ve ever seen. Certainly Prince. I saw him play in LA last week—it was incredible. At the beginning of the show, he’s like, ‘Are you guys down to stay with me all night?’ and everyone cheers, and he goes, ‘We’ll see.’ And then he’s right, because half the audience bailed. He did, like, eight encores. That dude clearly bones for hours. He’s the Sting of being Prince".
Truer words have never been spoken, RIP Prince, you really were the Sting of being Prince.
12. Keep It in the Family
SNL is very much like a family in that the cast all like to support each other. You’ll find many former cast members in each other’s projects. Look no further than Samberg himself. He has appeared on Fred Armisen’s show Portlandia, Amy Poehler’s Parks and Recreation, Tina Fey’s 30 Rock and Sarah Silverman’s The Sarah Silverman Program (to be fair, Silverman had left the show more than a decade before Samberg showed up, but hey, SNLers gotta stick together).
Samberg’s talents are varied and in most cases exceptional, especially when it comes to comedic acting. It’s fitting then that his portrayal of lovable goof detective Jake Peralta from Brooklyn Nine-Nine earned him a Golden Globe in 2014; he won for Best Actor in a TV-Comedy or Musical. Keep slaying them awards, Samberg.
14. People Have the Power
Earlier this year, fans and cast of Brooklyn Nine-Nine got the news they feared most: their beloved TV show was being canceled. However, that sadness would be short-lived, as fans caused such an uproar and outrage that another network, NBC, picked the show up only 31 hours after Fox canceled it. It’s a true testament to the work the show’s cast and crew do and what the show represents to fans all over the world. Det. Jake Peralta lives to vanquish another bad guy. Noice! Toight!
15. From Crush to Wedded Bliss
Samberg is married to indie-psychedelic folk artist and harp virtuoso Joanna Newsom. The two met through mutual friends and hit it off right away. Samberg was a huge fan of Newsom’s delightfully endearing music and had a crush on her before they met. He used to attend her concerts with a smitten look upon his face (OK, I imagined that part, but it was probably true!). The two married in 2013 and by all accounts love their California lifestyle together.
Samberg really wants Bruce Willis to make a cameo on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. His character Jake is obsessed with Die Hard, and apparently, Willis has always been at the top of the list for the producers of the show. Samberg himself has made a plea for Willis to come by, even for just a line. The poetry of Samberg’s character running into Bruce Willis on the streets would be such a beautiful moment to witness, I for one hope it happens.
17. Breaking Records
Incredibad, the debut album for comedy-rap group The Lonely Island came out in 2009. It became the first comedy album to ever reach the No. 1 spot on iTunes. It would also be Billboard’s top-selling Comedy Album two years running. The album featured such well-loved songs as "I’m on a Boat", "Like a Boss," "Dick in a Box," and "Natalie’s Rap". That’s the one where Natalie Portman raps very aggressively about her day. “What you want Natalie? To drink and fight!”
18. Going Viral
Samberg and the rest of his Lonely Island crew have YouTube to thank for their success. It was through videos they posted on their YouTube channel which got them a writing job for the MTV Movie Awards. After Jimmy Fallon, who was the host that year, recognized how funny and hardworking they were, he introduced them to Lorne Michaels.
From there they got an audition and Samberg was booked as a cast member and Schaffer and Taccone were offered jobs as writers. They were one of the earliest YouTube success stories. Trailblazers, those brave men are!
19. From Comedy Legend to Comedy Legend
Samberg, Newsom, and their daughter are currently living in a home previously rented by the one and only Charlie Chaplin. It's so fancy, it has a name: Moorcrest. The home itself boasts a cacophony of different architectural styles, including Gothic, Art Nouveau and Andalusian. It was designed by one of the few female architects from the 1920s.
After seeing pictures of the property, it would be hard to find such a gorgeous environment not creatively inspiring. We were already jealous of your awesome life Andy, you don't need to rub it in!
20. Everything is Awesome
Samberg and his Lonely Island pals collaborated with a pair of Canadian icons for one of the best films of 2014. Tegan and Sara performed the theme song "Everything is Awesome" for The Lego Movie along with Samberg, Taccone, and Schaffer. They also got to perform the song live at the Oscars where the ditty got a nomination for Best Original Song. Though it would lose to "Glory" from Selma, it doesn’t make this collaboration any less... well, awesome.
Samberg, unlike his SNL counterpart Bill Hader, is not known for his incredible celebrity impressions, though there is one he’s particularly gifted at, whether that’s because of the ridiculousness of it or the uncanny resemblance, that’s for you to decide. Samberg does a winning impression of Nicolas Cage, so winning in fact that he was the voice of Cage in Aziz Ansari's show Master of None.
In an episode of season two entitled “New York, I Love You,” Samberg voices Cage in a movie that plays during the final scene. This wasn't the only time Samberg impersonated Cage, though—he also appeared alongside Cage while in character for Weekend Update. As Samberg put it: “It was not even remotely like Nic Cage. It was just a lunatic person that we called Nic Cage. To his enormous credit, he recognized that and thought that was funny and came on SNL and we did it as twin Nic Cages…”
Unsurprisingly, Nic Cage is a super cool dude and found Samberg’s ludicrous impression of him funny.
22. Seems Like More of a Bachelor Party Thing
When Samberg and Newsom tied the knot, Samberg invited a very special guest to his wedding: one of his comedic inspirations and semi-frequent collaborators, Adam Sandler. Unfortunately for Samberg, Sandler came in costume. He chose to attend the wedding as his That’s My Boy character, a film where Sandler plays Samberg's deadbeat, washed-up father. I can just imagine how thrilled Newsom must have been for that experience.
23. Thick as Thieves
Samberg and his costar Chelsea Peretti go back further than the pilot of Brooklyn-Nine Nine—the pair actually grew up together in Berkeley, California. Adorably, Peretti even had a crush on Samberg when they were in elementary school. So how did she try to get the young man's attention? She would call his house and hang-up on him. Classic move, Peretti.
24. Want Some Company in There?
As a writer at SNL, a great many ideas for sketches were birthed inside Samberg’s brain. Some of those would get approval to run at dress rehearsal, followed by a live performance if they were successful. The ones that didn’t go so well would be scrapped and maybe revisited at a later date. Samberg’s white whale was a sketch borne out of an office bit he used to do, which really just involved him asking if anyone wanted to go to the bathroom with him.
Yes, you can see why it didn’t play so well with the audience.
25. New York's Hottest Club Is...
Though an iconic Bill Hader character, Stefon from Weekend Update has a Samberg connection. SNL writer (and current stand-up icon) John Mulaney would attempt to make Hader break by rewriting some of the jokes at the last minute, while Samberg took to standing directly next to the camera with his arms crossed, frowning and shaking his head at Hader's attempts to hold in his laughter. It all just adds to the mythology and brilliance of Stefon. Where’s the party at Stefon?