Chris Parnell, recently bounced from Saturday Night Live along with Horatio Sanz and Finesse Mitchell, isn’t known for funny catchphrases or wacky characters. Instead, he played the reporters, the scientists, the professors, the foils. He more or less inherited this mantle from the incomparable Phil Hartman, and both men brought a disciplined comedic steadiness to the show’s occasional run-amok immaturity. Parnell also added a few overlooked gems, such as the sketch in which he played a centaur on a job interview, opposite Christopher Walken. “Do you have sex with horses or with human women?” asked Walken. “Neither,” said Parnell. “I’m only attracted to other centaurs.” “Okay, what if it were a horse with a mask of a woman on it?” The Centaur sketch wasn’t likely to spin off into a movie franchise, but it was funnier than anything else that week.
Most people know Parnell best as the other guy in the “Lazy Sunday” video, the popular rap parody he performed with Andy Samberg. Lorne Michaels is perpetually trying to lure younger viewers, which might explain why the baby-faced Samberg is a golden boy while Parnell, 39, is headed out. Ironically, Parnell pioneered the dorky-white-guy-rapping shtick on SNL and he holds “Lazy Sunday” together. (I’d bet dollars to doughnuts he wrote the Aaron Burr reference.) How sad that the sketch that rekindled interest in SNL now stars Samberg and a guy who got fired.