Who Is Andy Samberg?
In 2001 Andy Samberg and his roommates formed a three-man comedy troupe named "The Lonely Island." Their digital shorts gained notoriety online, giving Samberg the opportunity to join the cast of Saturday Night Live. The comedian left SNL in 2012 and began his run on the hit sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine in 2013.
Samberg was born on August 18, 1978, in Berkeley, California. He grew up in a middle-class Jewish household with his father, photographer Joe Samberg, and his mother, elementary school teacher Margi Samberg. He attended Willard Junior High School in Berkeley, where he met his two best friends, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer. Together they invented and performed off-the-wall comedy sketches to entertain their friends and classmates. According to Schaffer, there was a practical motive behind their middle school antics. "There was some value in being funny," he says. "It's good for not getting beat up."
The trio continued on to Berkeley High School, but upon graduating in 1996 they went their separate ways for college. Samberg initially followed Schaffer to the University of California at Santa Cruz, but after one year he transferred to New York University to study film. The laid-back northern California native says he initially found life in the Big Apple rather shocking.
Samberg lived with three friends in a cramped, rodent-infested two-bedroom apartment. "There were rats and mice everywhere," he recalls. "I grew up in the Bay Area, so I'm fairly 'at one' with nature, but this was different. California nature is lovely. New York nature is disgusting. At first, I was really grossed out by it." Nevertheless, Samberg stuck it out in Manhattan, graduating from NYU with a BFA in film in 2000.
The Lonely Island
In 2001, after all three had graduated from college, Samberg, Schaffer and Taccone reunited in Los Angeles. Schaffer recalls, "After college we reconvened, moved to L.A. and lived in an apartment. And any dudes who live in an apartment will usually give it a name — ours was called 'The Lonely Island.'" The roommates soon formed a three-man comedy troupe named "The Lonely Island" after their apartment.
With nothing more than a video camera, the trio began filming brief comedy sketches — which they called "digital shorts" — and posting them on the Internet. Taccone recalls, "We were putting up our stuff on [the Internet] when we didn't have jobs ... we were just using our [digital] shorts as an excuse to not work."
Movies, TV and Music Career
'Saturday Night Live'
Their hilarious digital shorts, including underground hits such as "White Power," "Regarding Andy," and "Awesometown," soon gained notoriety on the Internet, and in 2005 the trio was invited to write for the MTV Movie Awards. The host that year was Jimmy Fallon, who was so impressed by the three writers that he decided to introduce them to Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels. Michaels recalls, "Jimmy Fallon was hosting, and we were talking, and he said, 'There are these guys writing on the [awards show] who are very funny. They're the first ones in and last to leave. I think they're really original.'" Michaels offered all three of them an audition and decided to cast Samberg while bringing Taccone and Schaffer on as writers.
Following their 2005 debut, the Lonely Island's Digital Shorts, such as "Iran So Far Away," "Laser Cats" and "Lazy Sunday," became a widely beloved feature on SNL. Samberg shot to nationwide fame in 2007 when he teamed up with Justin Timberlake to film the lewd but hilarious spoof music video, "D*** in a Box," which garnered a shocking Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Music & Lyrics. "That's about as surprising as it gets," Samberg said before the awards show. "I can't tell if the process was more exciting — or the idea that someone's gonna have to do that engraving if we win."
Samberg continued to achieve an astonishing level of mainstream success with his absurdist and sometimes vulgar brand of humor. He was nominated for two more Emmy Awards (in 2009 for "Mother Lover" featuring Justin Timberlake, and in 2010 for "Shy Ronnie" featuring Rihanna), and in 2010 Samberg's collaboration with R&B singer T-Pain, "I'm on a Boat," received an unlikely Grammy nomination for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.
'Hot Rod,' 'I Love You, Man'
In addition to his work on SNL, Samberg also boasted blossoming film and music careers. In 2007, he starred in the movie Hot Rod, which co-starred Taccone and was directed by Schaffer, and in 2009, he starred opposite Paul Rudd in the popular comedy I Love You, Man. Also in 2009, The Lonely Island released its first album, Incredibad, which became the first comedy album ever to reach the No. 1 spot on iTunes.
'That's My Boy'
In June 2012, Samberg announced he was leaving Saturday Night Live. He starred with Adam Sandler in the comedy That's My Boy released that summer. Also around that time, Samberg co-starred with Rashida Jones in Celeste and Jesse Forever. This dramatic comedy followed the efforts of a couple going through a divorce while trying to maintain their friendship.
Voiceover Work for 'Hotel Transylvania' Franchise
That fall, Samberg lent his voice to the animated Hotel Transylvania film franchise in 2012, 2015 and 2018 and in between those years also lent his voice in the animated comedy Storks (2016). He returned to the small screen, albeit in Britain, in the comedy Cuckoo with Greg Davies beginning in 2012.
Back in the United States, Samberg scored his first hit sitcom with Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The popular police comedy debuted in 2013, and Samberg earned a Golden Globe for his work on the show. His personal life seemed to be flourishing as well, as he tied the knot with singer-songwriter Joanna Newsom in September 2013.
'7 Days in Hell,' 'Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,' 'Palm Springs'
In 2015, Samberg starred in the hilarious HBO mockumentary 7 Days in Hell, in which he portrayed a flamboyant tennis player caught up in the longest match in history. That year he also hosted the 67th Annual Emmy Awards telecast. In 2016 he collaborated with his Lonely Island buds Schaffer and Taccone once again and starred in the comedy Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016). Samberg also played Nyles in the 2020 comedy Palm Springs.
Samberg married psychedelic folk musician Joanna Newsom in 2013. The couple had a daughter in 2017.
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