Saturday Night Live fully embraced YouTube several years ago, but there’s still a wide swath of its recent history that doesn’t exist on the internet in a format that’s easy to embed. Unfortunately that includes almost the entire tenure of Will Forte, who maybe wasn’t a breakout star in the Will Ferrell or Kristen Wiig mold, but is clearly one of the best writers and performers in the show’s long history. So much of the best stuff from his many years on SNL aren’t on YouTube, which is a bummer.
Fortunately one of his very best sketches has finally been posted through SNL’s official YouTube channel. “Fly High Duluth” first aired almost 14 years ago, in January 2006, in an episode hosted by Scarlett Johansson; presumably it was thrown back up onto YouTube because she’s hosting this weekend’s episode. The concept is simple but Will Forte is as fully committed to it as he is everything he did on this show, resulting in a blistering tour de force rock star performance that’s part Jim Morrison, part Bruce Springsteen, and part Bob Seger for good measure. This is actually a pretty clear precursor to “What Up with That,” a sketch that debuted almost four years later; not only do you have almost the entire SNL cast decked out in absurd outfits as members of a band, but it has the same core joke of a TV show theme song that never ends. I don’t know if “Fly High Duluth” is better than “What Up with That,” but it did come first, and there’s enough difference between Will Forte and Kenan Thompson’s equally amazing performances to make this one stand out.
If you’ve never seen “Fly High Duluth” before, check it out below. If you have, well, if you’re like me you’ll probably go ahead and watch it another half-dozen or so times.