Taran Killam From ‘SNL’ Says Jim Carrey Is His ‘Comedy Hero’

Comedian and Saturday Night Live alum Taran Killam shared that Jim Carrey is his “comedy hero,” marveling at Carrey’s masterful impressions.

Taran Killam as Jay Carrey and Jim Carrey during the "Carrey Family Reunion" skit
Taran Killam as Jay Carrey and Jim Carrey during the “Carrey Family Reunion” skit | Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Killam admits he struggled with impressions, which is one reason why he is such a Carrey stan.  I have always struggled with impressions, and really still do, if I’m being honest, in taking pride of them,” he said on the Life is Short with Justin Long podcast.

“Because to me, it’s a musical mimicry,” he continued. “And where I’ve been able to give myself more credit is the observational element to it, of noticing ticks and mannerisms and points of view. That is the role of an actor. That is what an actor actually does.”

Jim Carrey is the master of impressions

Killam then mused about how Carrey is the embodiment of comedy. “Jim Carrey has always been my comedy hero,” he stated. “I’ve had many, but he’s always been number one. Just where he came on the scene and where I was in my life at that time, just every Halloween was dressing up as whatever character he’d played recently. On the school ground, just reenacting Ace Ventura, The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, The Cable Guy …”

He recounted being in a sketch with Carrey on SNL as one of his favorite moments on the show.

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“I’ll always remember the first Merryville Brothers sketch we did, the animatronic ride from hell,” Killam told Thrillist. “Jim Carrey was a hero of mine growing up, and we got an applause break the first time we did it. I looked to my right and there was Bill Hader, whom I love and respect; and to my left there’s my hero, Jim Carrey, giving me a thumbs-up. It was a really special moment.

Taran Killam thinks Jim Carrey could have made millions in Vegas

Killam told host Justin Long that Carrey could have taken a different, easier path but instead chose to create original characters. “But a big part of him is that he started out as an impressionist and a mimic,” he said. “And then trashed his act. He literally could have been Danny Gans or whatever, and gone to Vegas and been making millions of dollars a year with his house act, doing impressions.”

“That was easy,” Killam said. “That was easy. He threw them away for all original stuff. And that’s what brought him In Living Color. And my struggle with, I’m just copying somebody else. I really would love to find those original characters.”

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Carrey is back on SNL taking on the role of Joe Biden. He ended up pitching SNL for the part. “There was some interest on his part,” SNL creator Lorne Michaels told Vulture. “And then we responded, obviously, positively. But it came down to discussions about what the take was. He and Colin Jost had a bunch of talks. He and I as well.” Michaels added, “He will give the part energy and strength, and … [Laughs.] Hopefully, it’s funny.”

“Obviously Woody [Harrelson] did Biden on the first show last season and did it brilliantly,” Michaels said. “Jason [Sudeikis] has done it in the past. Part of it also is whoever does it has to basically relocate to New York because of quarantine. So, there were a lot of factors involved in that. But I’m thrilled Jim’s doing it.”