One of the simultaneous blessings and curses of “Saturday Night Live” is the fact that the cast is constantly being turned over. Some performers leave because they become big movie stars, and some just walk away because eight years is enough. Will Forte’s case is the latter, as he announced today that he is tapping out of “SNL.”
His career began rather thanklessly (if you recall, he was drafted to play George W. Bush after Will Ferrell left and people tended to unfairly compare the two), but he grew as a performer and has left behind a pretty excellent catalog of memorable characters and funny moments. (And it helped him expand, too: His appearances on “30 Rock” have been gutbusters, and he was the voice of Abe Lincoln on the short-lived but totally awesome “Clone High.”) Here are the five things we’ll best remember Forte for when the new season of “SNL” starts without him this fall.
Certainly Forte’s most notable creation (no other character got the feature film treatment), the “MacGruber” character really shouldn’t have worked. After all, it spoofed “MacGuyver,” which is not exactly a show that warmly lives on in the cultural memory. But the fact that it was only ever a minute long helped out the fact that it was only ever one joke, and the escalation involved is pretty magical. And hey: The “MacGruber” movie was actually a pretty excellent action-comedy.
A more recent creation, Forte took on the Greg Stink role opposite Jason Sudeikis (as Pete Twinkle) as wildly off-base ESPN analysts. They were always covering absurd sporting events (like ladies’ bowling and darts) and they were always sponsored by feminine products (“Vagisil!”). Like all great Forte bits, it’s short, sweet, weird and fantastically funny.
Andy the “Oh no!” Guy
Forte has excelled at playing characters who are just slightly off but approach the world with a sort of surreal innocence. Such is the case of Andy, a guy who is warmly appalled at just about everything he hears. In its most notorious incarnation, Andy worked at a telethon hosted by Johnny Knoxville and drove the “Jackass” star up a wall with his constant exclamations of “Oh no!”
Whenever Forte showed up on “Weekend Update,” you knew you would get gold. Much like Andy, Tim Calhoun means well but just can’t seem to get himself together. His creepy voice is equal parts crippling shyness and unnerving calm, which makes him ideal for all brands of surreal editorials (including a great bit back in 2008 when he made his case for his candidacy for President of the United States).
Jon Bovi might be the best example of Forte’s genius (it helps that it’s not only a tag-team with Sudeikis but it’s also a “Weekend Update” bit). The bit began as a reverse Bon Jovi cover band (which saw them mucking up the words to famous Bon Jovi songs) but eventually expanded into messing up other people’s songs (like their take on Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It),” which became “All the Married Dudes (Pin a Brooch On It)”).
Who is your favorite Will Forte character? Let us know in the comments!