Kyle Mooney’s College Apartment Was Pretty Much an SNL Incubator

published Sep 27, 2019
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Welcome back to My First Apartment! Whether it’s your first studio, a four-bedroom deep in the city shared with a handful of roommates, or even an entire house (lucky you!), there’s something special about moving into the first place that’s truly your own. In this series, we’ll showcase actors, artists, entrepreneurs, and beyond—asking them to revisit that oh-so-sweet nostalgia of newly-found freedom.

When you think about a college apartment, you’re probably picturing something like this: barren walls (except for maybe the occasional taped-up poster), piles of dirty dishes, grimy bathrooms, hand-me-down futons, pilled jersey sheets, and lots and lots of alcohol bottles. From both my own experiences and from countless celeb interviews on the subject, that mental picture is generally not that far off from reality. College apartments are usually the first spaces we get to live with our peers—totally unsupervised by our parents. Yes, sometimes this results in a terrible mash-up of conflicting definitions of “clean” and undeveloped communication skills. But other times, it can be lightning in a bottle.

Take for example, the first apartment “Saturday Night Live”‘s Kyle Mooney lived in for his sophomore year at University of Southern California (USC). Did it look important or life-changing? No. It was exactly what you’d expect a place four 20-year-old male improvisers lived to look like. But did was it essentially the perfect environment to set him and his friends on the path to stardom? You betcha.

In light of SNL’s season 45 premiere this weekend (and his collaboration with STōK Cold Brew Coffee), Mooney shared all about the rugged apartment he shared in 2004 with his childhood friend Dave McCary (Oh, did I mention Dave works for SNL now, too?):

My First Apartment: Kyle Mooney

Credit: Ana Hard

Mooney’s dream apartment for his 20-year-old self would be part preppy, well-to-do and part underground hip hop (“whatever version of that I could pull off”). It’d include a Keith Haring painting (“something cool and funky”) and something by Banksy (“I’d invest in some sort of fine artist that hadn’t blown up yet, hold onto it, and then be rich today”). It’d also incorporate lots of blue hues (“I’ve been blue since day one.”)

City: Los Angeles.

Neighborhood: I was going to college at USC and it wasn’t too far from campus.

Roommates?: There were, I think, four of us in a two-bedroom apartment. Three of us—myself and two childhood friends—shared one bedroom.

Rent: Since we were splitting a bedroom three ways, it was pretty cheap for us: $180 apiece.

We lived pretty scarcely in our salad days, just eating scraps and extra value meals.

How you paid your rent: I was fortunate to get some help from my dad and mom. But we lived pretty scarcely in our salad days, just eating scraps and extra value meals. I worked for my dad a bit, just some weird one off jobs. I also tutored for a bit.

Why you decided to live there: I don’t think there was much though behind the actual place. It was just like, “Oh, we need to get a place so we can live.” I was fortunate to have some good pals who I was going to be living with, and I think I kind of just went with what everybody else was saying. We were like, “This looks good! All right! I’m cool with that.” We were just excited to have our own place to eat whatever we want, party whenever we want, and listen to whatever music we want.

Credit: Laura Hoerner

What you did on the first night: I think we went to Target or Walmart or something like that to get as much furniture we could fit in the house. Then I think we rented some DVDs. I remember watching “Multiplicity” with Michael Keaton. We just hung out and had drinks. Maybe we tried to go to a college party?

Set the scene in three words: Dudes. (Is a hyphenated word okay?) Lack-of-art. Okay, and then this is a single phrase (not one word): Foreman Grill.

Three things on your wall: I remember a poster of a beach that one of the other dudes brought. He truly could have found it in an alleyway—I don’t know where it came from. I was really into making art myself, too, and would arrange bottle caps and corks into silly patterns. I truly think, other than that, that the walls were completely barren and white.

Truly we were just wasting time and having fun being 20-year-olds.

Who came over the most?: Jeff, Beck (Bennett), and all the guys and the girls from my improv and sketch group in college. That would be post-rehearsal, post-show goofing around, trying to peg each other with a rubber ball. Truly we were just wasting time and having fun being 20-year-olds.

Credit: Laura Hoerner

The craziest thing your neighbor ever did was: We lived next to a park and a lot of people hang out at the park—unfortunately, not just children. There were a lot of shady individuals that didn’t want to be our friend. My roommate Dave (McCary), had his car broken into one day cause it was parked right next to the house. They took a hard drive with a bunch of videos we made on it. I am sure they sold it for money and wiped it clean. We’ll never get to see those videos ever again. We move on.

Worst idea you ever had in the apartment: That was an era when I was still trying to pursue my girlfriend from high school who had broken up with me. One rainy day, I thought it would be romantic to drive over to her college and try to kiss her in the rain. She didn’t want that, which is very fair. I invested a lot, emotionally, in that apartment in terms of trying to pursue something I didn’t need to pursue.

Best memory: We would throw fun theme parties. We had one that was future-themed. People were putting aluminum foil on their heads and making satellite dishes. There were robots and aliens. I think we also did a winter formal, like a high school prom-type thing. We all went to the thrift store and got the nicest clothes we could get for being young and broke.

Neighborhood haunt: All of our friends lived in the neighborhood, so we would go over to their pads and party and play video games. We would go to campus and sneak into the cafeteria and try to get free food.

I was surrounded by friends, but your early twenties is a vulnerable time. I didn’t know who I was yet.

Thing you hated most about living there: Probably just being lonely. I was surrounded by friends, but your early twenties is a vulnerable time. I didn’t know who I was yet.

Thing you loved most about living there: I got to do the most TV exploration when I was that age because I had time and cable. At the time, Nickelodeon had a station called Nick Arcade that would just show reruns of old game shows. So I spent a lot of time watching that. There was this show called “SK8-TV” that was made in the early 90s. I watched a lot of “Wonder Showzen.” Even “Saturday Night Live.”

Song that will always take you back: It was the era of 50 Cent and The Game, so probably “Candy Shop.”

Credit: Laura Hoerner

Smell that will always remind you of it: Dave used to make a lot of homemade breakfast burritos and little grilled turkey wraps. So I guess if I’m ever around those, I will feel like I’m back on Hoover Street.

One item you still have today: This little white rubber ball. It looks like a basketball but it’s tiny and just filled with air. Very light. We would play this game where we would throw it at each other. After being hit by the ball, you became “it.” You really didn’t want that to happen. We came up with ways of sneaking the ball, hitting people with it in a way they wouldn’t know it was happening. You did not want to be the last person hit by this ball. This was the game that just continued forever. Every now and again when I’m cleaning my apartment in New York, the ball will be there. I guess that means I lost, because I’m still the person with the ball. I’m certainly not actively trying to keep it, but also I’m afraid to throw it away.

I was doing everything right… I don’t think I would be the same person had I not lived that life.

Thing you wish you knew back then: Don’t stress too much. I was doing everything right. I feel good about where I’m at now. I don’t think I would be the same person had I not lived that life.

Thanks for sharing, Kyle!

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