It’s a sad truth that whenever a former cast member returns to Saturday Night Live, they are almost always asked to revisit their most famous incarnations. This has been true of Will Ferrel and Kristen Wiig but this goes back to the salad days of the 1990s cast as well. So, it shouldn’t have come as too big a surprise last night when Weekend Update devoted six minutes to host Bill Hader‘s most popular character, Stefon, the New York correspondent who doles out uproarious recommendations for the hottest clubs, restaurants, and dives around Manhattan. Unlike many other revamped characters that former players have brought back for their hosting return, however, Stefon is still a hilarious creation that fits Hader’s unique comedic style.
Though the writing on the Stefon bits have always been giddily unpredictable and absurdist, what has always made the character magnetic is the way it reveals Hader’s weaknesses. Hader is notorious for laughing mid-sketch or going to great lengths to barely hide the fact that he’s about to go into a long fit of guffaws, and his trembling attempts to hold it together while reading the lines for Stefon has often been what drew audiences to the character and his appearances. In fact, there may be no funnier moment in Hader’s entire tenure on SNL than when he attempted to finish a line about Dan Cortese as Stefon.
His appearance last night was no less galvanic, as he went through the best places to spend your St. Patrick’s Day in New York City. You can and absolutely should watch the whole bit below, but special mention should be given to a quick cameo made by the great John Mulaney, he of Oh Hello! and the Independent Spirit Awards. Mulaney dashes in toward the end of the segment to play Stefon’s lawyer, Shy, who advises him on correct wording to describe a particularly ridiculous spot. Even a little whisper from Mulaney is enough to make Hader lose the thread momentarily before making a distinctly risky joke about Seth Meyers and his “A Closer Look” segments. I’m more impressed with SNL when they find new comedic talents in surprising places or highlight a brilliant performer like Tiffany Haddish but at this point, I hope Hader returns on an annual basis.
Here’s the clip from last night’s Weekend Update: