First comes denial: “Wait, what? Bill Hader can’t leave SNL — he’s in, like, every sketch! There must be a mistake.” Next is anger: “This is crap. How could you do this to us, Hader? How could you deprive us of Stefon, and James Carville, and a screen presence that single-handedly elevates every dumb game show parody? We’ll never forgive you. Never.”
That’s followed, of course, by bargaining: “Listen — if you stay, we’ll stop complaining that the show hasn’t been funny since [insert year here]. We’ll laugh at all the musical monologues, and sympathize when you’re forced to fill a hole with a commercial parody rerun. We’ll even stop harping about how lame The Californians is. Just… just please don’t go.”
And then comes depression… the stage in which many of us find ourselves now.
We may never truly accept the fact that Hader is exiting SNL after eight rubber-faced, wonderfully goofy years. Perhaps, though, the road to acceptance is paved with Hulu videos — and if nothing else, we’ll take any excuse to watch and rewatch Hader’s greatest Saturday Night Live creations. Which of them will you miss most when the comedian takes his final bow this Saturday? Click through our unscientifically compiled list of his 10 best recurring characters — both impressions and originals, all of which have appeared at least three times on the show — and vote for your favorite at the end of the post.
Hader imbues many of his celebrity impersonations with a unique, absurd energy, transforming them into full-blown characters in their own right. Case in point: His ragin’ Cajun James Carville, a giddy swamp creature who may as well be a completely original creation. And while a cartoonish Louisiana accent makes anything sound funny, it really does wonders with this line: “Now, it doesn’t matter why, but I am friends with some alligators.”
Of course, even when Hader does play an impression relatively straight, he’s still great. Alan Alda is probably his most technically proficient impersonation; close your eyes, and you’d have no idea that Hader was the one speaking.
In Hader’s eyes, the Dateline host is a loveable sadist who takes not-so-secret delight in all the horrible things his interviewees have experienced. If you can keep a straight face while he’s grinning and saying “oooooooh nooooo!”, you’re a stronger person than most.
Like his frequent costar Kristen Wiig, Hader has an old-fashioned quality that makes him particularly good at playing vintage types. And even if his spooky, nasal Vincent Price was occasionally overshadowed by the guests at his Halloween soirees, he still had plenty of moments.
A furrowed brow, an ultra-gravelly voice, and a pair of very, very high-waisted pants are all Hader needs to transform into the bundle of old, white male rage known as Clint Eastwood, a.k.a. Batman. Watch it before the Chinese get you.
NEXT: Hader’s original characters, starting with a certain fan favorite