‘Saturday Night Live’: Robin Williams Wanted to Do a Prank for Bobby Moynihan’s First Night That Terrified Him

Saturday Night Live is the golden ticket for many comedic actors and writers around the world. For Bobby Moynihan, the unbelievable series of events were only just beginning within quick succession. He recalled meeting the legendary Robin Williams for the first time when he was due for his first Saturday Night Live appearance. However, the comedy icon had a prank that he wanted Moynihan to follow along with that terrified him.

Robin Williams hosted ‘Saturday Night Live’ 3 times

'Saturday Night Live' host Robin Williams. He's wearing a purple velvet suit jacket and a purple tie. He's holding his hands up with a look of surprise on his face.
Robin Williams | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for PCA

Williams had an opportunity to enjoy Saturday Night Live as both a host and an actor via cameos. He first hosted the show in 1984 at the age of 33, but he would return another two times in 1986 and 1988. Additionally, Williams starred in three cameo roles on the sketch show from 1981 to 2010. The cast also impersonated him four times over the course of its run.

The actor had a phenomenal career before his tragic death in 2014. He touched lives with his stand-up comedy, which also allowed him to further blossom on television and on the silver screen. He rose to fame thanks to the ABC sitcom Mork & Mindy and found tremendous feature film success with Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting.

Robin Williams wanted to go to ‘Saturday Night Live’ as Bobby Moynihan as a prank

In an interview on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Moynihan talked about when he got his start on Saturday Night Live and how he met Williams. It’s a memorable night that he still remembers, even though it initially caused him a lot of stress at the time.

“The Sunday night before I’m supposed to go in, my life’s dream has now come true,” Moynihan said. “I couldn’t believe it. I went to Upright Citizens Brigade, which they had a show there called Asssscat and we would perform there.”

Moynihan was surging with excitement to officially start working on Saturday Night Live, but he was shocked to discover that Williams was there that night and wanted to perform with him. He described it as “the second-best thing in the world that could have happened,” only after earning his spot on the late-night sketch show.

“And then, after the show, Robin grabbed me by the shoulders and was like, ‘I have an idea. Give me your clothes. I’m gonna go into work for you tomorrow. You just got Saturday Night Live. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if I went into work for you?,” Moynihan recalled. “I remember instantly thinking, ‘Oh, no. This is a terrible idea.’ I do not want my first day at SNL to have Lorne Michaels see Robin Williams walk in in a Bart Simpson T-shirt.”

He found it nearly impossible to tell Williams “no,” especially since he was “100%” serious about his Saturday Night Live prank.

Moynihan concluded: “I was terrified, he gave me his number, and I was like, ‘Oh, no. This is going to happen.’ He never called, and I was really happy.”

Bobby Moynihan was on the show for 9 years

Moynihan’s moment with Williams was ultimately a precursor of a healthy Saturday Night Live run. He worked on the show for a total of nine years from 2008 until 2017. Moynihan had several recurring characters, such as Mark Payne and Anthony Crispino. However, he was also known for his celebrity impressions, such as Guy Fieri, Danny DeVito, and Jonah Hill.

Similar to many other Saturday Night Live cast members, Moynihan went on to work in the feature film business. He did a combination of live-action roles and voice-acting for animated films. He starred in 2010’s When in Rome and 2015’s Ted 2. On the animated front, Moynihan’s voice made its way into Pixar’s Monsters University and Inside Out.

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