NBC will premiere a new two-hour primetime special featuring a sports compilation from Saturday Night Live entitled, SNL Presents: Sports All-Stars on Sunday, January 31 at 9:00pm. The special will feature favorite sports-themed sketches from the 35-year history of SNL, including brand-new material from Jason Sudeikis and Will Forte. We recently caught up with both of the SNL cast members to talk about the special. This is what they had to say:
To begin with, where exactly did the idea of doing a primetime special dedicated to the show's pantheon of sports spoofs come from?
Jason Sudeikis: I'm going to assume that it was from one of Lorne Michael's dreams. I'm going to assume that he dreamed it up one night when he was in his footy pajamas and he was like what do people want to see? They want to see all the sports sketches in the, you know, in the history of SNL. And he woke up and he made it so.
Will Forte: I do know that he has a tape recorder by his bed for ideas. He doesn't turn it on and then when he has an idea he just records throughout the night in case he talks in his sleep too.
What are some of your favorite sports moments from the show's 35-year history?
Will Forte: Mine has got to be the ... pretty hands down the synchronized swimming sketch with Martin Short and Harry Shearer. I love that so much. Just everything about it; there's nothing about it I don't like. But if I had to boil it down to exactly what I liked it's just Martin Short, the way he looks and his hair. The nose plugs and, just everything about it, his floaties ... he's just, it is perfection.
Jason Sudeikis: I would say I'm a big fan ... we reference this actually in the show of the Stuart Smalley with Michael Jordan.
What sports do you guys enjoy watching or playing in your free time?
Will Forte: Oh man, rhythmic gymnastics. Actually that was a joke but I actually do love rhythmic gymnastics. Some how I got stuck watching it a couple Olympics ago and love it so much. But, no, no, no, my sports are football, basketball and baseball. I'm a Raiders fan and a Los Angeles Clippers fan and I went to UCLA so all Bruins teams too.
Jason Sudeikis: And I follow primarily and solely the basketball team of the Kansas University Jayhawks.
Do either of you have predictions for the Super Bowl? Who do you like, the Colts or Saints?
Will Forte: You know what, no, I don't know. I would be happy if either team won because, you know, once it gets outside of the Raiders then I just start looking at, the teams I like and actually there are many things to like about each team. They're two very likeable teams. And of course, you know, Peyton Manning hosted the show a couple years ago so we love the guy and there are a lot of things in this show that are from his show. You know, I'd be just as happy with the Saints coming in. They've never been to a Super Bowl. I want each team to win. I want a tie.
Jason Sudeikis: I hope neither of them win, I hope we never get to the game.
Will Forte: You're such a jerk.
Jason Sudeikis: That's what I hope. I hope it's just one long halftime show.
Will Forte: Well in the year 2012 that might just happen. We might not have the Super Bowl.
Jason Sudeikis: It's all the Mayans ... just the Mayans with their spectacular fire show. The Mayans will win the 2012 Super Bowl, okay. You can put that in the books. The Mayans by 3 if they get a last second field goal.
Will Forte: We'll defeat the Incans by 3.
What do you guys like most about writing and performing Twinkle and Stink?
Jason Sudeikis: I would say it's a joy to write with Will and also our friends John Solomon and John Lutz, two of our writers on staff because it happens, the writing, while it takes a little bit of time it's fairly effortless and then we laugh a lot on the way while we're writing it. It tickles us all the way through the writing to the performance. I think that is the most fun and I think you'll see that, you'll see that quite largely on Sunday. You know, we had a really good time
Will Forte: Yeah, exactly what Jason said and for some reason Jason and I didn't really write together until a couple years ago. And then once we started writing stuff together, well I just have so much fun doing stuff with him. And I can't believe there was ever a time when we didn't write together because it's so enjoyable. And yeah, we'll write some stinkers every once in a while but it's never, not fun.
Jason Sudeikis: Yeah, I think Lorne was just trying to pit us against each other.
Will Forte: He does that. Please get in this interview what a bad person Lorne Michaels is.
Jason Sudeikis: Yeah really he pits people against one another. It's the strongest survive.
With the Winter Olympics just around the corner how much of the show will focus on that?
Jason Sudeikis: I mean I don't think at all. Is there maybe? Do we even have a sketch in there that's from an Olympics?
Will Forte: I bet there ... I mean I bet there's probably some Olympics-related sketch in there. But it wouldn't be a new one, most of it is just the classics from the past but the only new stuff are the things like ... I'm Greg, wait you're Pete, that Jason and I do as Pete ... God I always forget who's who. I always mix up Stink and Twinkle. It's Greg Stink and Pete Twinkle.
Jason Sudeikis: Yeah it's Twinkle and Stink by the way.
Will Forte: Twinkle and Stink, yeah, sure, okay fine. He's Twinkle so of course he has to go first.
Jason Sudeikis: I do all the talking mostly.
Will Forte: Yeah but that's because I don't know how to talk as well.
Jason Sudeikis: I will say that there won't be ... I don't believe there's anything in regards to the upcoming Winter Olympic Games because, you know, obviously since we work for NBC and they already know who wins everything there's like a compromising situation there ... we'd be putting ourselves in jeopardy, obviously. Comcast, GE, the nation and the Olympic Committee, you know, we'd be putting them in ... in a pickle as they say. But just keep an eye out ...because we did pretty well this year.
Well with characters like Twinkle and Stink, do you think you'll need to tone them down for primetime?
Jason Sudeikis: Tone it down? I think, you know, it's more innuendo I feel than anything else. I think it feels dirtier because it rhymes. But I think we get a few in there. I mean, Will, do you know anything? Have the censors ... have we pushed any buttons? I don't know maybe?
Will Forte: I don't think so. I mean, we even through in some crazy stuff like there's this product called F**k Detergent and ... Oh wait a second.
Jason Sudeikis: I don't know if we ever ... we never taped that one.
Will Forte: Oh, we didn't tape that one? We didn't tape that one. Sorry for saying the F-word by the way.
Can you preview the Twinkle and Stink sketch from this weekend's special for us and what is your favorite sketch so far featuring those characters?
Jason Sudeikis: Do we have any previews? I mean, you know, it's just a lot of the same confusion. A lot of the same, you know, understanding that Twinkle has for Stink when Stink gets confused and all of the same just boyish enthusiasm that Stink has for anything Twinkle says.
Will Forte: My favorite part of the sketch is waiting ... is the period in between when Jason has ... excuse me, it'd be Twinkle ...delivers the sponsor little jingle and then it's after the last word he says in between that word and when he caps it off with Tampax or something. That's the sweetest. I wish that lasted forever and oftentimes it does. But it's ... oh my God it's so ... that's my favorite part is the waiting for the ... just go like ... one day in the sand ... oh there it is.
Do you think they asked you two to host this special because of your Twinkle and Stink characters?
Jason Sudeikis: The producers asked us, Lorne and Steve Higgins, they asked us if we wanted to do it and we said no and then they were like, you have to contractually. And then we said no. We'll quit. And then they said, oh seriously? And we're like, no we're just screwing with you. Yeah we'll do it.
Will Forte: Then they said we don't want you to do it anymore and then it was this long wooing-back process.
Jason Sudeikis: And this is four years in the making. I mean ... we didn't even have the characters on the show yet. They were just something we used to do, you know, while watching Monday Night Football at the offices. Ultimately they asked us.
How did you guys come up with the idea for Twinkle and Stink?
Jason Sudeikis: I think it's me just doing whatever I would consider a sportscaster to do, you know, a play-by-play guy. And then, Will where did that guy come from?
Will Forte: You know what I was doing was a much more low-key version of the character. And then right after the dress rehearsal they said, oh give it a little more energy and then it was pretty different from what I had been doing all week.
Jason Sudeikis: I would say so. There are moments when we were writing it like when we, I mean, especially by the second one that we did where when everybody ... when any of us ... myself or John would be doing the impression of you like when writing lines for you and he would always have like that, you know, he'd always have like that kind of enthusiasm that I think is important.
Will Forte: Oh yeah but no, it wasn't there originally. I feel like your character has always kind of been, solid as a rock in that like you kind of have that character from the get-go and we kind of had to settle into mine after awhile. But we ... but, man, it was such a delight writing those things because it was originally ... Jason was going to write it with John Lutz and they luckily included me and John Solomon because I have so much fun doing it.
Jason Sudeikis: It was originally supposed to be with Megan Fox, was the first idea I had. And it was like all based on Megan and Kristen (Wigg) being really meticulous with their pool cues and like setting up for the match and never quite getting anything. It was like a totally different kind of piece and then we just sort of came in and started talking like that and just ... and then the Tampax thing got layered in there. The Tampax thing came as a mistake. We started writing ... God I love this ... I wrote the first page and then it ... then the computer blanked out. And then I went back in and then as a joke John went to the bathroom and we were all pissed and we had to bring in our IT gal to try to like save the script. I don't know if you even know this, Will. And then I just typed in Tampax ... Tampa to the Max, you know, ladies tournament, just as a joke to make John laugh because we just knew it was going to ladies billiards and the whole Tampax thing sort of came about. Isn't that weird? Yeah, I totally forgot about that until right now. Crazy, yeah, it was totally done as a joke to make John laugh like getting back, you know, I was just like so, you know, when you lose a script you're just so frigging mad and then you've just go to back in there and just like type, just spit it out before you forget it all. And I just added that in as a little joke and then it became, something we slowly started doing.
If I understand this correctly, Conan may be leaving the network but his props and characters are the intellectual property of NBC so could you ever see incorporating characters like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog or the Masturbating Bear into SNL?
Jason Sudeikis: God, I don't know if we could use them any better than they've used them. I wouldn't ... I don't know if I would even try. It's kind of like, you know...
Will Forte: It would be like trying to remake the movie The Jerk. It's been done to perfection so yeah. Oh my God, I would never want to use them. They're his. They're his.
Jason Sudeikis: Yeah, okay. So you wouldn't be interested in doing it? Maybe use them in a dramatic piece? You know, maybe some like ... Broadway? Maybe do like "Streetcar" and have the masturbating bear play Stanley, you know. I mean I'd use it in a different setting. Maybe, you know, something like that or just put a paintbrush in Triumph's mouth and have him paint a picture. That was actually Lorne Michaels speaking through me as a vessel.
Are there any sports celebrities that you guys really like impersonating or mimicking?
Jason Sudeikis: I played Bobby Knight once and that was a lot of fun because I got to yell at Seth (Myers). I got to wear like a red sweater and they put me in a, you know, a white, very, very, white wig and made my nose a little red, then I just got to yell my head off. That was pretty fun. I didn't throw a chair or anything but, you know.
Will Forte: I'm a very bad impersonator so I can't even remember if I've ever done a sports person. I mean, I think I was Bruce Jenner once but I don't think I said anything in the sketch. I was just sitting there in a like a bronze tracksuit. No dialogue. They don't trust me with dialogue.
Are the sports celebrities who come on the show naturally funny or do they just seem funny because the sketches are so well written?
Will Forte: You know what? It depends. It's different for each one like some ... like Peyton Manning is a legitimately funny person who was funny in the sketches because he's a funny person. And then, you know, there have been other people who haven't been as funny who have come on the show and seem funny maybe just because ... you know, they're bad acting maybe helped them out a little bit.
Jason Sudeikis: Oh boy. Yeah, had I known what I know now I would have written much funnier sketches for like pep rallies in high school because it's always fun to get someone ... I think it has a little bit to do with just putting them in the right situation and having the right premise. Then we've really nailed the ... nailed it with this format because we're only taking like the best sketch and best moments from their sketches, from their entire hour and a half show so everybody comes out smelling like roses.
While on the subject of Peyton Manning, did he embrace the idea of going so far against his public persona in the United Way sketch?
Jason Sudeikis: I wasn't at the shoot when Peyton did the United Way thing but I...
Will Forte: I wasn't either, that was the digital shorts, yeah?
Jason Sudeikis: Wasn't it almost like his idea, kind of?
Will Forte: I don't know, I don't remember.
Jason Sudeikis: I don't know either. I know there's a specific story about that. I would say that he absolutely embraced it otherwise it never would have been filmed. They didn't trick him into doing that. I know that. I know that he...
Will Forte: He was game for doing anything. He was so much fun to work with.
If you had to choose which Will Ferrell sports sketch is funnier, his Harry Caray impression or the cheerleader sketch?
Jason Sudeikis: For me I love Will Ferrell's Harry Caray. I think they may have missed a real hell of an opportunity that you're bringing to light here and I like that about you, this is good reporting. They should have done Harry Caray as a cheerleader. And, you know, now that Will's passed on ... has he passed on? I can't remember?
Will Forte: He died, yes.
Jason Sudeikis: He did die, okay, yeah, that's too bad because that would've been something to see.
Finally, are there any sports stars who have come on the show that you've totally geeked out over?
Will Forte: Oh man well Peyton Manning, obviously one of the best and Lebron James is so good like, you know, just to know I'm meeting a person who will go down as one of the legends of their sport is really exciting. Charles Barkley was so much fun because he was ... that was when I was, you know, first kind of getting into basketball, you know, he's always been such a fun character. And man was he fun, Charles Barkley everyone fell in love with him, he was just such a sweet guy. And everything that comes out of his mouth is so funny. He's just so naturally funny.
Jason Sudeikis: People won a lot of money off him too that's another reason they like him so much.
You can watch Will Forte and Jason Sudeikis host SNL Presents: Sports All-Stars this Sunday night, January 31st at 9PM EST on NBC.