by Julian Spivey
Saturday night’s (May 18) episode of “Saturday Night Live” is honestly going to be one of the most emotional episodes of the nearly 40-year late night sketch comedy show for me.
Because one of my all-time favorite ‘SNL’ cast members, Bill Hader, is saying farewell to Studio 8H. Remember how fans reacted and felt during the final episode of last season when Kristen Wiig made her ‘SNL’ farewell? Well, that’s going to be how I’m feeling tomorrow night at midnight when Hader takes the stage for his final goodnights. In fact, it’ll be even worse, because not only is Hader leaving, but so too are ‘SNL’ veterans (and two more of my favorites) Fred Armisen and Jason Sudeikis.
Sure, I’ve seen other favorite cast members leave the show – some with much fanfare and others with little to none – like Will Ferrell, Tracy Morgan, Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Darrell Hammond, Will Forte and others, but none of them hit me like I know the departure of Hader will.
Ferrell is my all-time favorite ‘SNL’ cast member – as he is to many others – but, I had just begun to watch live episodes of ‘SNL’ in his final season of 2001-2002, so his departure, while one of the greatest episodes I’ve seen to this day, was not as emotional to me as it would have been had I followed his career at ‘SNL’ from the beginning.
I’ve followed Hader’s career from the moment he joined the cast in the 2005-2006 season. Since then he’s gone from new guy on the block to the cast’s most valuable player and when he leaves that great stage for the final time Saturday night he will leave with a body of work on the show that I believe can truly rival all of the many legend’s who’ve also graced it.
The great thing about Hader is that like Ferrell, Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Hammond and Dan Aykroyd before him he was the everyman cast member. He could carry a sketch, steal a sketch or just plain play the supporting guy in a sketch. He could and seemingly would gratefully do it all. He’s been a true team player who turned himself into a star when he never seemed to really care to be one. He just let his completely original characters, spot-on impressions and sound effect like voices carry him through eight terrific seasons and the fans rewarded him for it with immense laughter and, as this piece is a testament to, much love and admiration.
Whether it was impersonating Al Pacino, James Carville, Julian Assange, Vincent Price, Clint Eastwood, Rick Perry, Keith Morrison or, my particular favorite, Alan Alda or performing the wacky intricacies of characters like Herb Welch, Vinny Vedecci and the bit he’ll forever most be known and loved for, Stefon, Bill Hader has left me in tears from laughter too numerous times to count. He may well have me shedding a tear or two one final time on Saturday night – almost certainly from laughter, but quite possibly also from the sheer thought of “Saturday Night Live” without Bill Hader.
Hader’s final “Saturday Night Live” episode can be seen Saturday night at 10:30 p.m. locally on KARK Conway Corp. Channel 4.