Anytime former cast members return to guest-host “Saturday Night Live,” you can expect them to reprise some of their recurring characters.
Bill Hader did not disappoint this weekend, when he brought back fan favorite Stefon, the nightlife guru and Weekend Update city correspondent who has very bizarre and highly specific recommendations. The character’s co-creator, John Mulaney, even showed up briefly to play Stefon’s attorney, Shy.
While referring to Weekend Update anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che as “Conner” and “Percy,” then “La La Land” and “Moonlight,” Hader’s Stefon did not disappoint with his very weird club names and descriptions:
“If you’re drunk in Midtown doing cheap coke off your laundry card, I have just the place for you. New York’s hottest club is GADDUSH. Inspired by true events, this former CVS, which became a Chase Bank, and then became a CVS again, has a familiar yet troubling feel — like when Larry King would play himself in a movie. This place has everything: desk sets, key fobs, kale chips, Roman J. Israel, Esq.”
Jost then asks for something more appropriate for St. Patrick’s Day.
STEFON: If you’re Irish, or just white and violent, I have the St. Paddy’s place for you. New York’s hottest Irish club is ‘Off to Church, Mother!’ Located in the clogged heart of the Bronx at the corner of 3000th street and Garry Marshall Memorial Drive, this gang-ridden skateboard park was the ceremony spot for Verne Troyer’s 2004 wedding. This place has everything: Peeps, TED Talks, Roman J. Israel, Esq. And be sure to hit the dance floor and do a jig with Ireland’s hottest Farrakhans!
CHE: Wait, Louis Farrakhan is at this club?
STEFON: No, Farrah-cauns, leprechauns that look like Farrah Fawcett. But also, yes, Minister Farrakhan will be there.
As for regular ol’ tourists, here’s what Stefon suggests:
If you’re ordinary and you love seizure-inducing Malaysian music, I have just the place for you. New York’s hottest club is ‘Stand Clear of the Closing Doors, Please.’ Built in the upside-down world, this haunted hospice was closed when inspectors found a sexy form of asbestos that could cause disease…
This place has everything: young popes, old popes, Roman J. Israel, Esq. But avoid the dance floor on Wednesdays, when a dozen hot dachshunds and corgis get in free. They call it long-and-low night. I don’t trust any dog whose stomach touches the ground.
When he wants to explain another club feature, Stefon pauses. “You know what? It’s a new era, and I don’t want to say a word that could be insensitive. May I consult my lawyer quickly?” That’s when Mulaney rolls in, wearing a pleather shirt and tie and saying, “Hello, gentlemen.” .
Stefon debuted in 2008. Mulaney and Hader created the character based on two New Yorkers they knew, including a wannabe club owner and a barista who would cover his mouth.
“A friend of mine knew a guy who wanted to start a club,” Mulaney told the New York Post in 2011. “He was always listing off things it was going to have in that rhythm: ‘It’s going to have everything. Jacked guys, glitter, rooms with broken glass, etc.’ Bill had met the barista who lived on the Lower Lower East Side, so we put them together.”
Ever since his last regular appearance in 2013 (featuring Stefon’s wedding), the character has appeared just a couple of times on SNL, including in 2014, when Hader hosted for the first time.
This week, Hader could barely make it through the club descriptions without breaking into laughter. That’s not only part of the Stefon persona, but probably a result of how the Stefon segment was written.
As Mulaney explained in 2012, when Hader began playing Stefon, “He’s a real professional, he’d just break because he liked it.”
So then Mulaney would try to get Hader to break character on purpose by writing new jokes on the cue cards in between the dress rehearsal and the live show, such as “a shaved lion that looks like Mario Batali.” Hader would then read them out loud them for the first time while live.
“I have a hard time keeping it together because I can sense everyone around me laughing,” Hader told the New York Post.