×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Kyle Mooney's Most Memorable SNL Moments Ranked

Performing on a show that has existed since 1975 and nurtured talent on the level of Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Chris Farley, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, and so many others can make it difficult for any cast member to stand out. Kyle Mooney managed that seemingly insurmountable task with original, offbeat characters, perfect pop culture parodies, and a unique style all his own.

During his nine years on the show, Mooney gave us excellent pre-recorded segments that took us deep into his own psychology, often highlighting the personal struggle that comes with finding your identity on an ensemble comedy show. At the same time, he popped up in live sketches that often left the audience and the cast reeling with laughter thanks to his intense commitment to the silliest of roles. While "Saturday Night Live" has had a hand in producing several icons, none of them were ever exactly as unique and surprising as Kyle Mooney. Adam Sandler, Kate McKinnon, and Chris Rock all probably have more money than he does, but none of them can do Kyle Mooney's exact style of humor. 

To honor his incredible run on "SNL," we're taking a look back and ranking a handful of his most memorable moments.

12. A fateful bike ride home from the video game store

To celebrate the 35th anniversary of "Super Mario Bros.," fans and employees of Nintendo come together to discuss their nostalgia for the character of Mario. Things start off perfectly fine with pro gamer Mike "Mr. Boomz" Tran (Bowen Yang) explaining that the game inspired his lifelong love of video games, and Nintendo USA V.P. of Sales Danica Mann (Ego Nwodim) detailing her reaction to the astronomical sales figures of the original game. When Josh (Mikey Day) and Jake (Kyle Mooney) appear onscreen, you think two old friends are about to share fond memories of playing games together as kids ... until things take a dark turn.

According to their recollections, the pair were so excited to play "Super Mario Bros." as kids that they rode their bikes a little too fast on their way home from the store. After hitting a jump, Jake had a horrific accident that he's not ready to talk about. Josh, on the other hand, is more than willing to describe every painful detail. The other interviewees are left aghast by what happened to Jake, which basically ruins the mood and kills their enthusiasm for discussing an old video game. The conversation turns to "Super Mario Bros. 3" and the overall situation does not improve.

What makes the sketch work so well is Mooney's strategic use of restraint. Jake is clearly uncomfortable and wants to tell Josh to shut up, but he's too polite to do so. Instead, he resorts to underselling what happened, which Josh just uses as an opportunity to emphasize just how terrible the accident was.

11. The struggle of doomed new cast member Adam Zekeman

Even Kyle Mooney's sketches that were cut to save time can be rewatchable and great. One thing he has mastered is playing characters who are oblivious to the ways they're viewed by others, and simultaneously cripplingly self-conscious. Perhaps the best example of this is in his cut-for-time sketch "New Cast Member."

Mooney does double duty in this one, playing himself and new cast member Adam Zekeman. Although the only physical differences between them are their noses and hair, they really do feel like two completely different characters. The sketch sees Zekeman struggling to find his place among the cast while trying and failing to mask his overwhelming inadequacy complex. Each cast member he approaches finds some way of blowing him off and he performatively takes it in stride.

It's great to see the little nervous tics Mooney imbues in Adam — hand gestures, facial expressions, and corny jokes all meant to disguise his panic. It comes off as very believable and deeply pathetic. When Adam finally gets his chance to play an original character on "Weekend Update," it's a triumph ... until the truth is revealed, and Adam pays the ultimate price for his crimes.

10. Getting stabbed by Larry David

When parodying '80s and '90s sitcoms, the most obvious route is making fun of a specific show. You could also create a ridiculous premise that would never have worked as a series. However, the sketch "Beers" focuses on the stiff, emotionless acting and poor production quality of some bottom-of-the-barrel sitcoms.

The premise of this show is unclear, but it appears to be about two friends, Mario and Josh (Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett), living together. In this very special episode, cousin CJ (Larry David) stays with them for the weekend. Mario hopes CJ will be willing to look after their pet fish during their bike ride. When CJ arrives, he seems like a fun guy who likes to drink. However, CJ's drinking quickly becomes a problem; he trashes furniture, forgets to feed the fish, and even stabs Mario in the gut after being confronted about his addiction.

Again, Mooney knows every awkward beat to hit as Mario. His performance comes off as just barely over the top without losing a sense of realism, which is one heck of a tightrope to walk. Sometimes you might find yourself thinking, "No way could the acting in a show be this bad." Then he moves his head and swings his arms in a way that convinces you, and makes you think, "Yeah, I can totally see someone failing like this."

9. Life in the House

Reality television is perfect fodder for satire. The genre's staples include strangers with little to no personality forced to share spaces together, manufactured plotlines that inevitably go nowhere, and the maximum degree of conflict squeezed out of every possible moment. There's no shortage of material for comedy writers and performers to latch onto. Such is the case with a series of reality show parodies called "The House."

Although the first iteration is technically titled "So You Think You Can Live with Brian?" each installment is essentially the same — Brian (Kyle Mooney) and Chase (Beck Bennett) live in a house with a third roommate played by the host of that week's "Saturday Night Live." The drama comes from simple misunderstandings that could be cleared up in literally no time at all. But since this is a reality show, the scenes are drawn out and interspersed with confessional moments where each cast member shares insights into their inconsequential decision process.

To give you an idea of what kind of upheaval regularly goes down at "The House," one installment features Eric (Chris Hemsworth) planning to order food, not knowing that Brian is thinking about cooking dinner. In another, Brad (Will Ferrell) says he'll go to the movies even though he already told Chase he'd stay in. In another "House" fiasco, Chase makes piña coladas for himself and Adam (Chris Pine) when Brian wants to make margaritas. Each disagreement leads to the guys having to hash out their differences in pitch-perfect exaggerations of what typically happens on reality series.

8. Not becoming friends with Justin Bieber

Prior to joining the cast of "Saturday Night Live," Kyle Mooney had his own YouTube channel simply titled "Kyle." Of the many hilarious videos he uploaded, the ones featuring a character conveniently named Kyle really stand out. Despite sharing the same name, there's a big difference between Mooney and this self-titled character. The character Kyle is awkward, he mumbles, and often pretends he knows more than he's letting on while interviewing people in a barely audible voice.

He brought the character over to "SNL" in a sketch that was cut for time but still works. Kyle stands outside of "The Today Show" in the rain to interview dedicated Justin Bieber fans who eagerly await his scheduled performance. Everyone Kyle talks to is a real trooper, never giving him a hard time for his incompetence, which gives the sketch a unique tone that's as sweet as it is uncomfortable.

The major highlight occurs when Kyle finds a random person who somewhat resembles Justin Bieber and talks to them as if they really are the pop star at the center of the morning's frenzy. This stranger plays along as if he's the real deal, thrilling Kyle, who later claims that he now chats with the Biebs on a routine basis.

7. The rap battle against Kanye West

Another pre-recorded sketch exploring Kyle Mooney's attempts to define himself as a performer, "Kyle vs. Kanye" details the actor's longtime dream of becoming a world-class rapper. We see footage of a teenage Mooney rapping and dancing in his own music videos, and witness as he tries his rhymes out on various people behind the scenes of the show. It's all leading up to the fateful moment where he challenges professional rapper Kanye West to a freestyle battle.

Mooney announces his plan on "The Today Show." Beck Bennett tells him it isn't a good idea, but Mooney disregards that advice completely. Mind made up, he approaches West, informs him of his intentions, and instantly fails to adequately insult him in any way. West then lays into Mooney with a pointed but polite rendition of "I Love Kanye" before walking away. Mooney immediately regrets his decision, but not for the reasons you probably think. It's Mooney's sincerity and the look back at his early days that make this sketch so compelling. Until we actually hear his rhymes, it's easy to believe he really is driven to become the greatest rapper of all time.

6. An intense and ultimately doomed marriage to Leslie Jones

It can be hard to remember that the cast of "Saturday Night Live" have personal lives. Having to juggle demanding work responsibilities and private struggles with love and family has to be very difficult. For Leslie Jones, there's a silver lining. In "Love and Leslie," she tells us about her struggles to find love, but thanks to working on the show, she thinks she's finally met someone who is perfect for her — Kyle Mooney.

The pair couldn't be more different. Jones admits she is a big personality and it's difficult for some men to handle that. Mooney is lanky and shy. He loves Jones but doesn't like living in the public eye. Still, they're both committed to making their relationship work. Mooney even loses his virginity to Jones in the "SNL" offices. The one snag in their romance takes the form of "Weekend Update" co-host Colin Jost.

Jones had a recurring bit on "Update" where she loudly proclaims her desire to sleep with Jost. Even though she assures Mooney that it's just a bit, he can't let it go. In a follow-up sketch titled "Kyle and Leslie," the situation hits the fan. Their marriage is hanging by a thread thanks to Jones' busy schedule, preventing her from spending time with her husband and their baby. When she stays late at the "SNL" offices to work on a sketch with Jost, Mooney gets seriously concerned that something is amiss in his relationship. 

5. Making peace with Andy Rydell

Chris Fitzpatrick is another character Kyle Mooney brought over to "Saturday Night Live" from his YouTube channel. Chris is a corny guy who desperately wishes to be perceived as edgy and angsty. In the sketch titled "The Fight," Chris records himself talking to an unseen cameraman about a kid at school named Andy Rydell (Bennett) who has been bullying him for some time. The whole piece feels like a metalhead high school kid's video project from 2002 with outdated editing and hysterical music cues.

Bennett plays Andy perfectly. He comes off as a stuck-up, snobby kid, but as is also the case with Chris, it's all an act. When the two finally decide to throw down in the hallway, both kids are terrified of actually hitting each other. Instead, they resort to throwing their arms out while backing away and talking as much smack as possible.

Chris controls the edit, so he cuts in commentary claiming we can't hear Andy whispering to him, "Please don't embarrass me in front of the entire school ... I am just a pawn of conformity, and you listen to the best music." Luckily, Mrs. Freeman (Cameron Diaz) breaks up the silly fight and the two enemies find common ground.

4. Stealing Pete Davidson's life

Still working on finding where he belongs at the onset of his sixth season, Kyle Mooney confesses that for a brief moment that previous year, he finally felt like his star was on the rise. Then, that summer, fellow cast member Pete Davidson proposed to his famous girlfriend Ariana Grande. The news was everywhere, and it threatened to overshadow Mooney's presence on "Saturday Night Live" completely. Faced with this crisis, Mooney does the only rational thing a person in his situation can do — he essentially steals Davidson's life and identity, becoming "A New Kyle."

Mooney dyes his hair, wears Davison-style baggy clothes, gets some tattoos, and even acquires his own celebrity girlfriend in the form of talk show host Wendy Williams. Not appreciating any of this one bit, Davidson confronts his usurper, citing his mental health. Mooney informs Davidson that he now has mental health concerns as well.

The competition is too much for the two men to handle, and Kenan Thomson suggests they handle things the "SNL" way. This is where the sketch takes a surreal turn. Some viewers might find the ending confusing, but we'd argue that it feels totally fitting for a sketch about a comedian pulling a "Talented Mr. Ripley" on one of his co-workers.

3. Getting buff as heck in a frighteningly short period of time

Like basically anybody who spends much time in the public eye, your average "Saturday Night Live" cast member might encounter varying degrees of body image issues. While they get paid handsomely to dress up in elaborate costumes and play other people, every now and again, the actors on the show still probably grapple with how they see themselves. Kyle Mooney addressed this serious topic in an appropriately unserious way with a mockumentary about overachieving just to get a role called "Kyle's Transformation."

When John Mulaney tells Beck Bennett he would like to use him in a sketch as a male stripper, Mooney asks if there's a part for him as well. Mulaney and Bennett's reaction inspires Mooney to get into the best shape of his life. With NBC fitting the bill and actor Justin Theroux helping with the training process, Mooney builds an enormous amount of muscle mass in a shockingly short time. While the newfound girth makes Mooney feel more confident, he's mostly just excited about his increased chances of getting in that stripper sketch.

When the big day arrives, Mulaney informs Mooney that the sketch has completely changed and there's no longer any need for ripped physiques. If there's one thing Mooney should have learned by then, it's that he should always just be himself. And that's good advice for anyone, not just "SNL" cast members. 

2. He showed us the real Baby Yoda

The breakout star of the Disney+ series "The Mandalorian" is absolutely Grogu, aka Baby Yoda. Revealed at the end of the show's premiere episode, this little green child has warmed the hearts of millions without uttering a single word. While arch of Din Djarin — aka the title Mandalorian — is the driving force of the show, it is his relationship with this adorable space elf that gives the series its heart.

Not one to miss a golden opportunity, Kyle Mooney was put into some spectacular prosthetics to play the character on "Weekend Update." At first, Grogu makes all his signature cute baby noises. Then he drops the act and gets real. Talking in a manner frighteningly similar to an overconfident online influencer, Mooney's Baby Yoda is all about that celebrity life. He loves his newfound fame and is living it up to the fullest.

However, it isn't all golden for Baby Yoda. He does have his haters. From his introduction to his subsequent appearances, Grogu calls out his archnemesis — Baby Groot from "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2." He makes it very clear that he does not and will not ever like the anthropomorphized plant and describes the violent methods with which he intends to squash their beef.

1. He and Beck Bennett cracked everyone up

As has clearly been demonstrated by several of the entries on this list, Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney work exceedingly well together. We see this in full force during the sketch "Brothers" where they play a pair of rowdy brothers constantly fighting with each other. The performers are totally committed to their portrayal of middle school kids who can't stand living together.

From their oversized '90s-style "Looney Tunes" bedtime shirts and tighty-whities to their eagerness to impress the friends of their parents, they come across as authentic brothers. Helping to keep the already hilarious sketch funny is Cecily Strong visibly struggling to contain her laughter each time to boys get hosed down. Between the new hole in the living room wall, the revelation that one of the brothers was an accident, and the perfectly uncomfortable moment that caps the whole thing off by showing how the brothers make up after such bickering, it's a genius sketch.