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Bobby Moynihan on how Tina Fey helped him land ‘Mr. Mayor’ role
When Tina Fey comes calling, Bobby Moynihan answers.
That’s how the former “Saturday Night Live” star got his gig on NBC’s new sitcom “Mr. Mayor.”
“Tina called me up one day and said, ‘I’m doing this new show and had you in mind for a character.’ I immediately said yes,” Moynihan, 43, tells The Post.
Airing Thursdays at 8 p.m. — and co-created by Fey and Robert Carlock (“30 Rock”) — the new comedy series follows Neil Bremer (Ted Danson), a retired billboard mogul who’s new to politics but finds himself in the position of serving as LA’s clueless mayor.
Moynihan co-stars as his bumbling communications director, Jayden Kwapis, with Holly Hunter co-starring as deputy mayor Arpi Meskimen. The sitcom premiered to a solid 5 million viewers on Jan. 7.
“This is my first time working with Ted [and] he’s absolutely wonderful,” says Moynihan. “We had a lot of time to get to know each other over Zoom during the pandemic. When we got back to start shooting again, it felt like it was a reunion. Like we had been doing this show for years,” he says, referring to the show’s stop-and-go production schedule — which, like many others, closed shop due to the pandemic before resuming filming.
Since leaving “SNL” in 2017, Moynihan has appeared on a range of shows such as “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Drunk History” and “DuckTales.” During his “SNL” tenure, he played a wide range of characters, from George R.R. Martin to a Beyonce backup dancer. They were often quirky or odd — and so is Jayden on “Mr. Mayor.”
He’s prone to wearing flip-flops due to having “podiatric claustrophobia” and when Neil remarks that he expected somebody with the trendy name of “Jayden” to be younger, he responds, “I believe I am the oldest Jayden.”
“I definitely had to look up some political terminology [for the role] but I feel like Jayden would have had to also,” says Moynihan. “He’s a bit of a weirdo. I think that’s the most fun character to play, the one that’s a little off or someone who doesn’t feel comfortable in their own skin. It’s very easy for me– maybe too easy!”
Moynihan’s time on “SNL” did not overlap with Fey’s tenure on the show (she left in 2006).
“She wasn’t a writer or cast member while I was there, but my first episode ]was the first time she [hosted ‘SNL’ and] did Sarah Palin,” he says, referring to Fey’s famous impression of the former VP candidate. “She hosted many times when I was there and put me in ‘Sisters’ and ’30 Rock.’
“She’s been absolutely wonderful to me.”
Moynihan says that the main lesson that he took from “SNL” into his other roles since leaving, including “Mr. Mayor,” is to relax.
“I didn’t trust myself as much as I should have at ‘SNL.’ It was a high-pressure situation,” he says. “I wish I had let myself enjoy it more at times instead of being in my head so much, and just been like, ‘I’m on ‘SNL,’ this is great!’
“So on [‘Mr. Mayor’] I don’t worry about that,” he says. “I trust Holly Hunter and Ted Danson and Robert and Tina enough that 95 percent of the work is done for me. And I just get to show up and add a little bit of whatever I can to an already amazing script.”
He teases that there are “a lot of really fun guest stars” set to appear on the show.
“I don’t want to spoil what’s to come,” he says. “I can’t wait for people to see [the guest stars]. I was kind of blown away that I got to do stuff with them.”