“The Year was 2005,” said former Saturday Night Live (SNL) star and head writer (now host of Late Night) Seth Meyers, as he reflected on his friends – and former SNL co-writers and stars, Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer, aka The Lonely Island – arrival on the infamous show. At first, the rest was less history as it was just “OK”, he mused, with most of the sketches they wrote getting bounced, and their first “Digital Short”, “Lettuce” dropping with only a small ripple. “Not much changed in the world”, he half joked. But then, “Lazy Sundays” came on, and SNL was indeed changed forever. The Lonely Island were launched into the world.
Meyer’s introduction came at Pier 17, an outdoor venue in its second season in New York City that sits on top of a building on the pier, with the Brooklyn Bridge and the New York City skyline as its backdrop. The Lonely Island used the venue as one of their stops on their brief eight city North American tour (if you include Bonnaroo) – their first as a group since they formed. After all, their content to date has been meant for screens small and large, rather than the stage. In fact, it was the first time the group had ever performed a headline concert in New York City. So as many in the crowd were hoping – and as is tradition for the group in digital form – a few guests were brought along for the ride.
Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake weren’t present, but did appear in Muppet form, as Andy and “JT” went through the songs they’d performed together over the years, starting off, of course, with the iconic “Dick in a Box”. Michael Bolton appeared via “live” video link ahead of “Jack Sparrow”, and as for most other guest stars (other than Samberg alter ego’s Shy Ronnie, Conner4Real and The Bash Brother himself, Jose Canseco), they were just part of the video on screen. But two stars of SNL past and present did make appearance.
The first was Chris Parnell, who many may know also as Dr. Spaceman from 30 Rock, Cyril Figgis in Archer and Jerry Smith in Rick and Morty, who popped out to perform the song that started it all – “Lazy Sundays” – before the trio jumped into an impromptu rendition of a song from the musical Hamilton, and jumping into some hilarious on stage banter. Then Kenan Thompson – SNL’s longest serving cast member – came out to perform “Reba” with Andy.
The show was, at its heart, three beautiful idiots singing along to their music videos – with a few skits thrown in for good measure. In this respect, you could compare it to a Tenacious D concert… but with a greater emphasis on video. It was everything it was supposed to be, and more. With extra special guests thrown in for good measure, this debut show – some 15 years in the making – served to not only be a great night out in New York City, but an undeniable trip down memory lane from one of the best comedy trios of all time.
The group continue their brief tour tomorrow just down the road in Brooklyn. More details at their official website.
06/22 – Brooklyn, NY @ Kings Theater
06/24 – Boston, MA @ Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion
06/26 – Detroit, MI @ Fox Theatre
06/29 – Minneapolis, MN @ The Armory
Head HERE for more details about the Pier 17 Rooftop Summer concert series. While in New York City, we’re staying at the Hilton New York Midtown. For rates and more details, head to their website HERE.
Photo by Larry Heath.