Lazy Sunday

Album: Incredibad (2005)
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Songfacts®:

  • In "Lazy Sunday," Saturday Night Live cast members Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell sleep in on a Sunday but get a brainstorm: they should hit the movie theater and check out the latest blockbuster: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. After filling their gullets with cupcakes and stocking up on snacks, they arrive early for the film and enjoy the pre-show entertainment: on-screen movie trivia (What "friends" alum starred in films with Bruce Willis? - Matthew Perry in The Whole Ten Yards).

    Samberg and Parnell act all hard throughout, posturing like they're forgotten members of the Wu-Tang Clan. And the beat is big and bass-y, pulling together the gangsta rap parody. Without the proper execution, it could come off as mocking or lame, but Samberg and Parnell pull it off with lots of geeky humor.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia is a PG-rated film with a Christian sensibility. In "Lazy Sunday," Samberg and Parnell break up the title so it's "The Chronic... Culls of Narnia," a play on the landmark Dr. Dre album The Chronic, named for a potent form a marijuana favored by rappers.

    The "what!" retort at the end of each "chronic" is in the style of DMX, one of the hardest rappers in the game.
  • This first aired as a Digital Short on Saturday Night Live, December 17, 2005. It was written by cast members Samberg and Parnell along with two writers on the show: Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer. Samberg, Taccone and Shaffer were a team and had joined SNL that season. They grew up together in Berkeley, California, then moved to Los Angeles, where they shared a house they called "The Lonely Island," which became the name of their troupe. They started posting goofy videos on thelonelyisland.com, which got them the gig on SNL.

    The show is notoriously competitive, and it's very hard for new cast members and writers to get airtime. They introduced the concept of Digital Shorts, which pushed against the show's bread and butter (live skits), but was clearly the wave of the future, as funny videos were starting to spread around the internet. Their first Digital Short was called "Lettuce" and aired on the December 3, 2005 episode. That one didn't have an original song - it's about guys who find comfort in lettuce during a difficult time - but it was proof of concept. "Lazy Sunday" was a smashing success and led to a lot more Lonely Island material on the show. They followed with Shorts like "Young Chuck Norris," "A Day In The Life of Natalie Portman," and their pièce de résistance, "Dick In A Box."
  • "Lazy Sunday" aired late in the Saturday Night Live episode, a time when viewership is down and skits of dubious quality get their due. It was clear from the audience reaction that this was no warmed-over, third-string material. It got huge laughs, and viewers who were still awake found it hilarious. In earlier years, those who didn't see a skit live would have to wait for a rerun or find someone who recorded the show on their VCR, but there was a new player in the game: YouTube, which launched earlier in 2005. YouTubers posted the bit soon after it aired, and it started getting eye-popping view counts, becoming the first TV show segment ever to go viral.

    Many discovered YouTube when friends sent them links to the video or told them about it. Of course, the YouTube videos weren't sanctioned by or affiliated with NBC, which airs SNL, but the show was benefiting from the exposure - young people watched and realized Saturday Night Live might be funny again. NBC ordered "Lazy Sunday" removed from YouTube in February 2006, so you could watch it only on nbc.com. In 2013, NBC posted it to their official YouTube channel.

    Back in 2005, streaming video was very cumbersome and could easily crash your computer, but YouTube worked exceptionally well. What it didn't have was a lot of quality videos - we were still two years away from the iPhone. "Lazy Sunday" was a breakthrough for the service, which in October 2006 was purchased by Google for what now seems like a low, low price of $1.65 billion.
  • The song and video came together very quickly. It was written on Monday, December 12, recorded the next day, then the video was shot and edited on Thursday and Friday. It was ready just before show time on Saturday, when SNL boss Lorne Michaels gave it a slot.
  • The video was made on the cheap using guerilla filmmaking techniques. Akiva Schaffer shot it in New York City using a camera he borrowed. They couldn't use a real movie theater, so they shot that part at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. The clerk at the convenience store was played by Schaffer's girlfriend's sister.
  • Samberg and Parnell make a big deal about "dropping Hamiltons" in the song. That's a play on "dropping Benjamins," meaning hundred-dollar bills (with Benjamin Franklin on the face). Hamiltons are ten-dollar bills (with Alexander Hamilton), far less baller, but enough for some snacks and a movie ticket.

    Puff Daddy popularized the practice of dropping Benjamins in his 1997 track "It's All About The Benjamins" - Samberg and Parnell borrow a line from it when they say, "It's all about the Hamiltons, baby!"

    There's a bit of American history baked in to this section as well, as Parnell declares himself Aaron Burr for the way he's dropping Hamiltons. Aaron Burr, the vice president of the United States, killed Alexander Hamilton in a 2004 duel. We'd learn much more about Alexander Hamilton when the musical Hamilton opened in 2015.
  • Regarding the Mr. Pibb and Red Vines, Mr. Pibb is a soda like Dr. Pepper, but far less common, and Red Vines are a licorice candy akin to Twizzlers. True Gs looking for their sugar fix will dip a Red Vine into the Mr. Pibb and use it as a straw... crazy delicious!
  • The song first appeared on an album in 2009 when The Lonely Island released their debut, Incredibad.

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