100 Best Things in Pop Culture: #29 Bill Hader, New King of SNL
By James Diers
By the time the tears had dried on the SNL stage following Kristin Wiig’s momentous musical farewell back in May, most critics and fans had worked out a formula for which cast members would be picking up the slack. Then Andy Samberg jacked up the math with his own goodbye bomb in the post-season break, followed closely by simmering rumors of a Jason Sudeikis departure in the near future. But we’re not worried. As long as Bill Hader’s manic mug remains a fixture in the show’s opening credits, we know we can count on at least a handful of legitimate LOLs in every episode. A native of that not-so-hotbed of hilarity Tulsa, Oklahoma, Hader continues to follow in the footsteps of fellow Second City alums like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. He was an immediate standout when he first appeared on SNL in 2005, both for his disarming surfer-boy-gone-silly good looks and for his wonderfully wild facial contortions. A few solid celebrity impressions never hurt, and Hader’s are golden, from Vincent Price and Al Pacino to CNN headline-makers including Eliot Spitzer and Julian Assange. And of course, there’s Stefon, the beloved recurring character responsible for introducing America to New York’s hottest fake nightclubs–and its most horrifying tattooed T-shirts. Whereas SNL used to be considered a “training ground” for future movie stars, Hader has already blessed Hollywood with a number of funny roles that bode well for his long-term future. From his bit part in Knocked Up to the amazing rule-breaking cop in Superbad to Andy Warhol in this year’s Men in Black 3, he’s proven himself just as comically committed and fearless as Wiig. On the upcoming season of SNL–it’ll be his eighth–we geared up to see fresh helpings of chain-smoking Vinny Vedecci, spot-on James Carville-isms and something at least as disturbing as “draggers” (spotted by Stefon, it’s that thing where dogs have short legs and long you-know-whats). What lies beyond? Whatever it is, we’re looking forward to that, too. Saturday nights are safe, at least as long as Bill Hader’s still live from New York.