He can sing, he can act, and he can tickle our funny bone. From emerging as a popular face on YouTube with his comedy troupe The Lonely Island to portraying one of the most iconic sitcom characters Jake Peralta in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Andy Samberg has carved a niche as a comedy actor.
As Samberg, the co-narrator of the Netflix series Never Have I Ever, turns 44 today, we take a look at some of his top performances that make him the versatile star that he is.
Sitcom - Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Fox’s (now NBC’s) Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a workplace sitcom set in the fictional 99th Precinct of the New York City Police Department in Brooklyn. It follows a group of law enforcement officers in their day-to-day job. Samberg plays a happy-go-lucky, hyperactive and immature but efficient police detective in the show. A die-hard fan of Bruce Willis’ 1980 film Die Hard, Jake sees himself as the film’s protagonist, John McClane, also a New York City police detective.
Samberg retains the inherent innocence and childish enthusiasm of Jake without losing the goofy and mischievous elements of the character throughout the eight seasons. From being a young and carefree detective to a caring friend and a loving husband to a responsible father of a newborn baby, we see Jake mature as a person and Samberg mature as an actor in the series. In 2013, he got a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor-Television Series Musical or Comedy for his performance in Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Comedy sketches and singing - Saturday Night Live
Samberg found himself at the centre stage of the comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL) as a cast member and writer in 2005. He starred in several pre-recorded digital shorts alongside artistes like Chris Parnell, Justin Timberlake, Bill Hader, Seth Mayers and Natalie Portman. The actor performed in various commercial parodies where he used his musical knowledge and sharp lyrics to great comedic effect.
His digital short Lazy Sunday, a hip-hop song about a quest to see The Chronicles of Narnia, broke the internet. He also showed off his impressive mimicry skills as several celebrities on the show, most notably as actor Nicolas Cage in a recurring live segment called Weekend Update. Samberg also won a Creative Arts Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for his digital short Dick in a Box, a duet with Justin Timberlake. He was nominated for a Grammy Award alongside his The Lonely Island mates Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone.
Mockumentary and satire
Samberg started his journey in films with 2007’s Hot Red, a film that uses humour to showcase the kind of risk stuntmen take to pull off incredible action sequences in films and TV shows. He subsequently starred in Sean Anders’ satire That’s My Boy (2012) alongside Adam Sandler, which chronicles celebrity culture and deals with a father-son relationship. In both the films, Samberg uses his comedic charm to good use.
In 2015, Samberg starred alongside Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington in the sports mockumentary, 7 Days in Hell, in which he played American tennis superstar Aaron Williams, a sex and drug addict. In this mockumentary, he faces a British tennis star in the longest fictitious Wimbledon’s match in history.
In the 2016 mockumentary, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, Samberg plays Conner Friel aka Kid Conner in the story that follows a fictional pop-rap band The Style Boyz.
Romantic comedies - Palm Springs (2021); Celeste and Jesse Forever (2012)
Samberg has also starred in a few romantic comedy films, including Celeste and Jesse Forever (2012) opposite Rashida Jones. One of his most notable comedy films is Max Barbakow’s science fiction Palm Springs (2021) opposite Cristin Milioti.
In Palm Springs, Samberg plays Nyles, who gets stuck in an infinite time loop during a wedding where he meets Sarah. This is undoubtedly one of his most dynamic performances as he channels the insecurity, vulnerability and determination of Nyles while also crafting chemistry with his co-star Milioti.
Voice acting in animated films
Space Chimps (2008), Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs film series (2009–2013), the Hotel Transylvania film series (2012–2022), Storks (2016), and Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022). That’s the list of films that feature Samberg as a voice artiste.
In Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, he voice-starred as Brent, the arrogant and silly mascot. However, his most iconic voice-starring gig was as Jonathan Loughran in Hotel Transylvania (2012). Samberg lent his voice to the only human character in the film, who falls in love with Count Dracula’s daughter, Mavis.