Seth Meyers Says Putting Lorne Michaels in an ‘SNL’ Sketch Was a ‘Devil’s Bargain’

Lorne could be good on camera — ‘depending on the day’
Seth Meyers Says Putting Lorne Michaels in an ‘SNL’ Sketch Was a ‘Devil’s Bargain’

Despite being featured in more Saturday Night Live digital shorts than Justin Timberlake, no one was quite sure those death-ray-spewing “Laser Cats!” sketches were going to work — least of all Andy Samberg and the guys in Lonely Island.

The original was pitched as a live-action bit with Natalie Portman in 2006. “The premise of the live sketch version was that in the future, a nuclear war has happened and cats can now shoot lasers out of their mouths,” explained Jorma Toccone on a recent episode of The Lonely Island and Seth Meyers Podcast. “And it was Andy and Natalie as a couple who have decided to start a business catching Laser Cats and repackaging them and selling them as cats that can shoot lasers out of their mouths and everyone can just grab one off the street. So there’s no point to the business at all. And then the business is failing.”  

There’s more but you get the idea — it was never going to work. 

But the Lonely Island guys couldn’t let go of one element — cats that can shoot lasers out of their mouths, a bit that Taccone originated by pointing his cat Willy at his wife, “cocking” the creature and pretending to zap her. Pew pew pew!

Meyers remained skeptical. “I am just going to be fully honest,” he told the guys. “I was not an instant convert to Laser Cats.” In some ways, no one believing in the bit became the premise of the digital short. “You need the audience to understand that you know that it sucks, and youre doing it on purpose,” explained Samberg. 

So rather than launching right into pew! pew! pew!, the pretaped sketch begins with Samberg and Bill Hader pitching the ridiculous idea to Lorne Michaels.

“Bill and I stayed up all night brainstorming,” Samberg tells Michaels in the sketch. “And what we discovered is that there are two things everyone loves!”

“Cats and lasers,” continues Hader, insisting it will be perfect for the show. 

“I don’t know,” replies Michaels. “It doesn’t sound good.”

While Michaels has appeared on SNL many times over the years, “putting Lorne in a sketch can sometimes be a bit of a devils bargain,” explained Meyers. While “you can get a really good Lorne take, which this one is full of, you might need multiple takes to get it. Depending on the day.”

Whoa! Michaels didn’t always deliver when he was in front of the camera? Maybe that’s why Lonely Island made it easy for him. “I will say, we put him in his comfort zone,” said Samberg. “Behind his desk, disliking our pitch.”

Still, it took some acting for Michaels to pull off the bit. “You actually wrote a far more straightforward Lorne than actually exists,” said Meyers. “Lorne would never say, ‘Well, it sounds bad.’ You know, it was aggressive as opposed to passive-aggressive. So it was like a real fictional multiverse Lorne that would tell you it sucked to your face.”

Meyers theorized that Michaels secretly loved being in the Laser Cats sketches, especially because he was in from the very first installment. “He probably was psyched to have been in on the ground floor,” said Meyers. “I dont think he wouldve wanted in the fourth season of the Lonely Island to get word to you guys that he wanted to be in a short. In a weird way, the fact that he said yes to Laser Cats in your first year paid off very kindly to him.”  


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