‘Saturday Night Live’ star Kyle Mooney opens up about his comedy and growing up in San Diego
From growing up in Scripps Ranch to premiering ‘Brigsby Bear’ at Sundance Film Festival, Kyle Mooney talks about his journey with comedy starting in San Diego.
Kyle Mooney’s comedy career sprang from a place of love.
“I love San Diego, and I love this culture, and I love carne asada burritos,” he says.
He also loves that red salsa at Rigoberto’s. And his growing legion of fans love that his comedy career has landed him in some uniquely hilarious scenarios in San Diego taco shops and beyond.
From interviewing Justin Bieber fans in the rain to rap battling Kanye West to staging a wedding with Miley Cyrus.
Before Mooney made it big, before he made it to the Sundance Film Festival for a film he wrote and starred in, or joined the latest chapter of “Arrested Development,” he grew up in the Scripps Ranch neighborhood of San Diego, where he tried his hand at skateboarding and comedy and found he was better at one than the other.
That was then. He says he’s actually gotten better at skateboarding in recent years than he ever was when he was at 13 — his 282,000 Instagram followers can attest to his skills — and he will tell you that trying to land a trick can be rewarding in a much more personal way than performing a character well at a comedy show, which ultimately depends on the audience response.
In a recent interview with The Conversation podcast, he shared more of what makes him tick, memories from being an “imaginative kid,” and his remaining ties to his hometown, including his childhood best friend and collaborator, fellow San Diegan Dave McCary.
“I was always trying to be silly or doing impressions or weird characters or making videos with friends,” Mooney says.
He honed his comic timing doing improv at Scripps Ranch High School and then in videos with friends that went on to gain millions of views on YouTube, and subsequent videos filmed with his Los Angeles-based comedy group Good Neighbor during his college days at University of Southern California.
He joined Saturday Night Live in 2013, and his resume also includes voice acting and the 2017 film “Brigsby Bear,” which stars another actor who called San Diego home for a time before going on to become Luke Skywalker — Mark Hamill.
While Mooney was back in town visiting family in San Diego in early July, he stopped by The San Diego Union-Tribune podcast studio to talk about breaking into comedy, what it’s like to thrive and survive on “Saturday Night Live” from week to week and even his favorite local taco shops.
On whether his “Inside SoCal” sketches are poking fun or paying tribute to San Diego:
“I feel like it’s arguably a bit of both. It comes out of a place of complete love. ... There are times I kind of sometimes feel like an outsider in terms of the fact that I don’t totally consider myself that stereotype of a “Cali bro” or whatever it is, but at the same time, I’ve been in and out of it and have been that person. I’ve been immersed in that and then I’ve come out of it and been like, “No, that’s not me.” I would probably be thrown into some cliche of L.A. hipster or something like that. But then I’ve also come out of that and been like, no, I love San Diego, and I love this culture, and I love carne asada burritos ... It’s kind of everything. It’s something that, certainly at times I see humor in it and other times that I love it, and it’s comforting to me, and that’s me.”
On finding humor while growing up in San Diego:
“Certainly the people have always been, observationally, something that has inspired me. In high school, I went to see Triple Espresso. ... Besides my friends, who were funny people, and I liked, as anyone does, doing bits with my pals ... when I was a kid here, some of the local characters were this guy Uncle Murph, who was the kind of mascot or face of XETV Fox Kids. He wore a safari cap and he had, I feel like, maybe a clown nose and Hawaiian shirt ... and then there was “Shotgun” Tom Kelly on KUSI. I like that stuff. Certainly that stuff was influential in terms of specific San Diego things.”
On whether he still gets starstruck on “SNL”:
“I absolutely do. Prince was there on my second season, A Tribe Called Quest came, even like (Adam) Sandler was there this past year. You never know what to expect when somebody you’ve been watching or listening to is now inches away from you.”
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