Matt Villines, one half of the comedy duo Matt & Oz, died from cancer this Saturday at the age of 39. He and Oz (Osmany Rodriguez) are best known for their work on Saturday Night Live, in which they directed many of the pre-taped sketches of the post-Lonely Island Digital Short era (2012–present). His cancer was detected two years ago, but as far as I know, it was kept private until now. Thus, this news came as a shock to me, and (I imagine) many other SNL fans.
Matt & Oz’s pieces generally eschew straightforward joke-telling in favor of deep character work. Some of their shorts are practically devoid of comedy and are funny more in the sense that the absurd melancholy of life is funny. Despite this risky approach, their shorts have consistently been viral hits. The melancholy style has a firm place in the SNL tradition, but it had been missing from the show for decades.
Let us now take a look at some of the best Matt & Oz-directed shorts.
Matt & Oz made a name for themselves with the bittersweet “Sad Mouse,” starring Bruno Mars as a heartsick Times Square costumed character.
'The Legend Of Mokiki And The Sloppy Swish'
A mix of bizarre, melodic, and romantic (a surefire way for filmmakers to worm their way into viewers’ hearts), “Mokiki” tells the tale of a creepy-dancing New York denizen (Taran Killam) who was the result of SCIENCE GONE WRONG!
'(Do It On My) Twin Bed'
The last five years have been one of the fiercest eras for SNL ladies, and Matt & Oz have been on hand to helm some of their best work, including the iconic “Twin Bed.”
One of Matt & Oz’s most fruitful collaborations was with writer Mike O’Brien, whose idiosyncratic sad-sack sensibility fit their tenderhearted directing style perfectly.
Fake movie trailer parodies have been a recent staple on SNL, and Matt & Oz made one of the best contributions to the canon.
Check out Matt & Oz’s Vimeo page for more of their work.