Bowen Yang may have only just completed his second season on “Saturday Night Live” but you wouldn’t know it from the level of impact he’s had on the show. This season, the actor was part of multiple headline-grabbing moments, emerging as a breakout star while still only being a featured player. Yang found his second season to be more comfortable than the first, despite the COVID protocols disrupting the typical flow of production. “I think in some ways the comfort was there and I definitely knew who to go to in terms of collaborating and how to execute on things,” says Yang in an exclusive new webchat for Gold Derby. Watch the video interview above.
One of the most viral moments for any cast member this season was Yang playing the iceberg that sunk the Titanic. The wildly imaginative Weekend Update segment features Yang as the iceberg explaining the Titanic incident from his perspective while also taking time to promote his new album, a “hyperpop EDM nu-disco fantasia” called “Music.” The actor is still amazed that the segment even made it onto the show. “It really took a lot of crazed experimentation between dress and air,” admits Yang. “There were so many reasons for it to not work and there was so much going on there that god bless Lorne Michaels for giving it a chance.” Yang was uncertain about the sketch for the whole week, until he saw the elaborate headpiece he would be wearing, at which point it all clicked into place for him.
Yang had another major Weekend Update segment that commented on the rise of crime against the AAPI community. The actor came out as himself and spoke about the recent tragedies, advising allies to “do more” for the community, even if it means humorously specific things like “amplifying Asian voices who want more Paneras in North Brooklyn.” That week was challenging for Yang, who only worked on this specific piece for that week’s episode and struggled to find the right approach for it. “It took some triangulation in terms of landing where we wanted to land,” he explains. “I knew that it wasn’t going to be the most belly-laughy thing that I would’ve worked on.” He ultimately took the advice of his co-writer on the piece, Celeste Yim, who advised him, “Your only job is to not lie, is to tell the truth.”
With Yang now off for the summer, he cannot yet confirm if he’s returning for a third season of “SNL” but would be thrilled to be back. He is hoping to reprise his impression of Fran Lebowitz, who Yang played in another Weekend Update sketch this past year, especially now that the writer has seen and does not care for the impression. “I’m suddenly motivated to try and bring her back in some way,” he teases. “I will try and sneak one in.”
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