Jason Sudeikis hasn’t forgotten his Saturday Night Live days. In fact, sketch comedy is the reason Ted Lasso exists. The lovable American football turned European football coach was created for NBC Sports’ coverage of the Premier League in 2013. And when the sketch was turned into a series for Apple TV+, Sudeikis incorporated his favorite SNL character into the pilot. And the character’s signature move is something Sudeikis has been doing since he was a teenager. Talk about full circle.
Jason Sudeikis’ ‘SNL’ dance made it into ‘Ted Lasso’
Of the many Sudeikis SNL sketches, the “What Up With That?” sketch with Kenan Thompson is one of his most memorable. Thompson played a talkshow host who didn’t give his guests much time to talk between his many musical numbers. Whenever Thompson would start singing, Sudeikis would appear in a red tracksuit and curly wig and provide backup dancing. Fred Armisen would also appear in a long curly wig to play the saxophone. And other SNL cast members would have musical bits in the sketch as well. It was one of those SNL scenes where everyone gets to shine for a bit.
Sudeikis always did the same dance move, with some alterations. The dancing became instantly recognizable for SNL fans. And it’s the dance Ted Lasso does in the show’s pilot that makes him go viral. In the clip from the first episode, Ted is doing the shuffling move in a locker room with his cheering football players. The video was played on Sports Center when Ted was announced as the new manager of AFC Richmond.
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‘SNL’ ‘What Up With That?’ sketch was Jason Sudeikis’ favorite
Sudeikis told Entertainment Weekly the dance move was something he’s done his entire life to entertain people.
“It’s the same dance I did when I was 15 years old and one of the few white kids on a basketball team in Kansas City to make my teammates laugh,” he said, adding, “The irony and the beauty is that I went through all this [comedy] training, did all this stuff, and the same thing that I did at 15 is the same thing I did at the beginning of [Ted Lasso].”
“What Up With That?” is the sketch people talk to Sudeikis about the most since leaving SNL. He said the scene has a magical quality about it where everyone in the cast got to be their funniest. Sudeikis said:
“Trust me, man, there’s nothing I’ve done on SNL that people have enjoyed more, spoken to me more about, than that dancing on ‘What Up With That?’ When people ask me [about] a favorite sketch, in those final three seasons or so I think it was doing ‘What Up With That?’ It became one of those sketches that, when the set would start to be built on stage during a commercial break, you’d hear the energy in the f—ing room change. Everybody had a role, everybody had a function, everybody would make each other laugh. It’s the best. It is literally the basketball of winning by f—ing 50 points and everybody scores 20. You look at the score sheet afterward and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, everybody scored 20 points!’ Who’s player of the game? The show is.”
Jason Sudeikis ‘SNL’ years
Although he spent many happy years on the Emmy-winning sketch series and created a slew of memorable characters (his Mitt Romney, George Bush, and Joe Biden impressions are especially memorable), Sudeikis didn’t actually want to work on SNL. He told GQ it seemed like too obvious of a career goal.
“I didn’t want to work on SNL,” he said. “At a certain point in your comedy journey, you have to look at it as like McDonald’s. You have to be like: ‘No. Never.’”
But he had a change of heart when SNL showed interest in him.
“It was like having a crush on the prettiest girl at school and being like, ‘She seems like a jerk,'” he said. “And it’s like, ‘Oh, really? ‘Cause she said she liked you.’ ‘She what?!’”
Thank goodness he changed his mind, otherwise we would never have the gem that is Ted Lasso.