“New York is so special, when something weird happens here, no one notices,” says Saturday Night Live’s Bill Hader, who plays Stefon, the “Weekend Update” city correspondent who offers wildly inappropriate sightseeing tips for tourists: “New York’s hottest club is Taste … Inside it’s just sick: ice sculptures, winos, Germfs—German smurfs—a Teddy Ruxpin wearing mascara, an old lady wearing Kid ’n Play hair, and none other than D.J. Baby Bok Choy.”
Whether it’s his willful ignorance of a world outside his glow-stick-lit bubble, his creative vocabulary (HoboCops = homeless RoboCops, Puerto Screechans = Puerto Rican versions of Screech from Saved by the Bell), his hopeless attempts at seducing Seth Meyers (though, to his credit, there was that one lip-lock), Stefon makes people laugh. He’s so funny, in fact, that Hader has rarely made it through a sketch without breaking down into muffled giggles. John Mulaney, Hader’s Stefon co-writer whom he credits for much of the character’s success, regularly changes the punch lines on cue cards in order to throw Hader off. “Sometimes I don’t know what Mulaney’s written until we’re live,” Hader says. And part of the joy of watching Stefon, it turns out, is anticipating which ridiculous lines will make him succumb to the character’s absurdity.
This year, after fifteen performances over eight seasons as Stefon, Hader received his first Emmy nomination, making him the first male SNL cast member since Eddie Murphy to do so. Says Hader, “We really didn’t think that this was going to take off.”