Kyle Mooney Solves A Few First-World Problems

The "Saturday Night Live" comedian shares how his personality influenced his "Brigsby Bear" character, before telling our listeners what to do with sneaky party DJs, the best way to eat bacon, and more.

Image courtesy Sony Pictures Classics.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Each week, you send in your questions about how to behave, and here to answer them this time is Kyle Mooney.

You know him as a cast member on “Saturday Night Live,” the movie “Zoolander 2,” and he’s now starring in a film he created with an old writing partner called, “Brigsby Bear.”

He plays James, a man who is kidnapped as a baby, isolated from society, and given essentially one piece of entertainment to consume: a homemade kids TV show called “Brigsby Bear.” And, yes, it’s a comedy, mostly.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Kyle, welcome to our show.

Kyle Mooney: Very, very excited to be here. Long time listener, first-time listener, fan…

Rico Gagliano: …Appearance.

On what influenced “Brigsby Bear”

Rico Gagliano: So, as I was watching this, it occurred to me, this show had kind of a similar theme — very generally — to “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” This idea of somebody who’s been sequestered away their whole life, then is a naive unleashed upon the world. What do you think is going on with that?

Kyle Mooney: There’s a few of them! The other one we kept on referencing was “Being There,” Peter Sellers/Hal Ashby movie. I guess from a comedic standpoint, the fun thing is just playing, I guess, with the alien nature of everything around these characters. Kind of exploring how weird anything can be that you’ve never seen before.

Brendan Francis Newnam: But it seems like it builds off your comedic persona, generally. You often play an earnest, but kind of clumsy person — not physically clumsy, but socially clumsy. It’s almost like this film is a backstory for why that would be the case. You know, you’ve been out of society for 20 years. Were you intentionally kind of playing with that persona you’ve developed?

Kyle Mooney: Certainly, yeah, a lot of it is me. I guess the movie has a lot to do with nostalgia and obsession with a TV show or art, or however you want to refer to that. I was that kid. I got super into “Star Wars,” and the Beatles, and baseball cards. I always had a hobby. I do identify with James, the character, though. I think sometimes I can be socially OK.

Rico Gagliano: You seem fine right now.

Brendan Francis Newnam: You’ve got the movie made.

Kyle Mooney: I am second-guessing myself as I say this.

Why his “Saturday Night Live” experience is different than most cast members

Brendan Francis Newnam: This film was directed, if I’m understanding correctly, by your best friend, David McCary?

Kyle Mooney: “Big” Dave McCary. Yeah, we’ve known each other — I don’t know if we ever totally agree on this fact — but I think we were aware of each other in maybe 4th grade. Became more aware of each other in 5th grade, but did not like one another. Then 6th grade, car pooled together and became friends.

Brendan Francis Newnam: So, you made this movie, and you guys made movies or videos in high school. So, what it is like from going from working with people that you’ve known so closely for years to a show like “SNL,” where there’s a new guest every week that you have to integrate into your stuff?

Kyle Mooney: I mean, Dave and I worked together for so long and in high school. We were in a hip-hop group together. Then we went to college. I went to USC, and at USC, I met Beck Bennett, who’s on “SNL,” as well on Nick Rutherford. We formed a sketch group basically when we got out of college. And that was kind of, to a degree, what led to us getting on “SNL.” But it’s nice because that show is obviously very terrifying.

Rico Gagliano: To be part of, yeah.

Kyle Mooney: Yeah, and just, like, kind of a rat race. You’re in charge of your own destiny, basically, and like, you’re either going to make a good piece or not. It’s kind of like fight-or-flight or something like that.

Rico Gagliano: My understanding is like you’re thrown to the lions. You’re coming on your first day and they’re like, “Figure it out.”

Kyle Mooney: Exactly. And there are so many people, comedy people, who just aren’t made for it, and don’t survive. It says nothing about who you are or what you do, it’s just so specific.

I was fortunate in the fact that I came there with Dave and Beck. So, it’s a positive handicap that your friends are there and you have someone to write with or hang out with. I can’t imagine just going alone, which is what everybody else does.

Rico Gagliano: Yeah it sounds like the first day of high school.

Kyle Mooney: It’s terrible.

Rico Gagliano: You lucked out and brought your clique with you.

Why don’t we get to our etiquette questions? These are people you’ve never met before, so I don’t know if you’ve ever been in this situation.

Kyle Mooney: I mean, I’ve barely met you guys.

Brendan Francis Newnam: That kind of hurts a little bit.

Kyle Mooney: Oh, no. I’m sorry Brendan.

Brendan Francis Newnam: I feel we had something…

Kyle Mooney: I’m enjoying… that doesn’t mean… I’m having fun here!

Brendan Francis Newnam: OK.

Rico Gagliano: Clearly, you’re the guy who should be telling people how to behave, Kyle.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, you’re so smooth and cool. So let’s get to the questions!

Kyle Mooney: Thank you.

One ring to rule them all…

Brendan Francis Newnam: This first one comes from Eric. He sent it to us via twitter. Eric writes: “My partner already wears a really nice diamond ring. If we got engaged, am I supposed to get her another ring?”

Kyle Mooney: My feeling is– I guess it depends on how much you want to adhere to tradition or not. Because, if you do, I say get the engagement ring. I think that’s the romantic thing to do, but some people, I’m sure there are a lot of people who don’t need a ring.

Rico Gagliano: I guess so, but… you can’t say, “We’re about to start a new life together, but you don’t need this symbol of it or anything, you’ve already got one.”

Kyle Mooney: People do not do that. Though I feel like as a guy, I’ve definitely done similar things over the course of my life. Which is just like a birthday present for a girlfriend being like, “So, we don’t really need to get each other birthday presents, right?” You know what I mean?

Rico Gagliano: How did that work out?

Kyle Mooney: I think somebody ended up crying.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, I made a similar mistake. Never assume or don’t even believe–

Kyle Mooney: Valentine’s Day, it’s like, “Come on! What does it matter?!” So yeah, we’re agreeing to get the ring?

Rico Gagliano: I think you get the ring, guys. It’s not about practicality.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, Eric. I think you have to get her the ring. Although, Eric makes a good point. It might be a little embarrassing for her walking around with two diamond rings on one finger. People might think she got engaged to someone else, too.

Rico Gagliano: Oh, interesting.

Kyle Mooney: Does she need to keep on the old ring, too?

Rico Gagliano: Yeah. Maybe it’s time to discard the old ring?

Brendan Francis Newnam: But it’s a diamond ring, it’s really nice, according to Eric.

Rico Gagliano: Where is a necklace.

Kyle Mooney: I’m not married, are you guys?

Rico Gagliano: I’ve been through it.

Kyle Mooney: OK. Can you do like six days wedding ring, one day other thing?

Rico Gagliano: I guess.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Let’s make the rules up, sure.

Rico Gagliano: There you go. That’s a compromise.

Sneaky party DJ

Rico Gagliano: Here’s something from Kyle in Long Beach, New York. Kyle says: “Say you’re throwing a dinner party and you’ve got nice mellow music playing through your Bluetooth speaker, until a guest syncs their phone up to the speaker in order to blast really bad dance pop music. Do you confront them about it? Or quietly re-sync the speaker to your phone?

Kyle Mooney: This is like, yeah, this is real. I’ve suffered a lot. In college, I would often DJ the party with an iPod. And it’d always really bum me out when I would have three hours of music planned on a playlist, then somebody would just start typing in their own thing.

Rico Gagliano: Yeah. They’re ruining the flow.

Kyle Mooney: It’s awful! And, to me, the rudest thing. I think my move is to be pretty upfront about it. Or, at the very least, be like, “Oh cool, play a couple songs but I’m going to put my music back on.” That is rude that they would just fully change up the whole thing.

Brendan Francis Newnam: It’s rude. Imagine preparing a meal, and then between courses, someone breaks out a bucket of fried chicken. Although that sounds great as I say it, not a cool thing to do to the cook.

Rico Gagliano: Yeah, sure. “You know what would be better right now? Creamed corn!” “But I’m allergic.” “Tough,” they say. That’s not a friend.

Brendan Francis Newnam: So, Kyle, there you have it. Maybe let them play a song or two, but make it clear, look them in the eye, and be like “No more.”

Rico Gagliano: Is that the move Kyle?

Kyle Mooney: I feel great about that for Kyle. And this Kyle says, “Kyle, I love your music.”

Brendan Francis Newnam: “And your name.”

The best way to eat bacon

Brendan Francis Newnam: Here’s our last question. This one comes from Mark, via Twitter. Mark asks: “Is it OK to eat bacon with your fingers?”

Rico Gagliano: Yeah. Right? You’re making the look I made when I read this question.

Kyle Mooney: Uhhh, absolutely.

Rico Gagliano: How else do you?

Kyle Mooney: I don’t know if I could imagine…

Brendan Francis Newnam: What do you mean how else do you do it, guys? There’s a fork and a knife.

Rico Gagliano: If it’s a super crispy piece, it shatters into a million pieces.

Kyle Mooney: Yeah we’re saying it’s OK to use your hands/fingers… though, is that the question? I’m trying to think of moments in time where I haven’t just used my fingers. I guess that’s maybe when bacon is in like an omelet or something like that.

Brendan Francis Newnam: What if you got engaged, you gave someone a second ring, and you’re meeting their parents, and they take you to a fancy place.

Rico Gagliano: And they switch up the playlist.

Brendan Francis Newnam: The playlist is switched up and you’re delivered bacon. Are you still going to eat them with your fingers?

Rico Gagliano: Nightmare scenario, go.

Kyle Mooney: Uhh. I’m going to– yes, I’m going to use my fingers.

Brendan Francis Newnam: You’re not changing who you are for these people.

Rico Gagliano: And if it’s in an omelet, I think we can say if it’s in an omelet, don’t pluck the pieces of bacon out of it with your fingers.

Kyle Mooney: Right.

Brendan Francis Newnam: There you go, Mark. Got it, Kyle Mooney, thanks so much for telling our audience how to behave, and good luck with the film.

Kyle Mooney: Yeah, good luck to everybody with these pointers. I’m not sure I’m the right person to do this, but I did my best.

Rico Gagliano: Thank you for trying.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Godspeed.