Whether you loved or hated Jason Aldean’s tribute-to-Tom-Petty-but-also-to-the-victims-of-the-Las-Vegas-shooting-but-not-in-a pro-gun-control-way-or-anything on this week’s Saturday Night Live, one thing is undeniable: it was much less funny than Tom Petty’s appearance in this SNL skit from 2010. Sharing the screen with Alec Baldwin and an ostensibly-coked-out Andy Samberg would be a challenge for any actor, but Petty steals the show with just a single line of dialogue.
And it’s quite a show to steal. Petty’s laconic performance, like any straight man’s, depends a great deal on the craziness of his costar, and Samberg delivers. It’s easy to lose track of the details of his performance because it’s so over-the-top, but pay special attention to the way he sings the line, “The sun is shining briiiiiight,” grimacing as though he (A) is surprised the sun is up at all and (B) is really, really, painfully aware of how bright it is. Structurally, too, the way Samberg and the rest of the Lonely Island gang mix clichés from musicals (like repeating the chorus, prestissimo) with clichés from cocaine binges (like repeating a sentence, prestissimo) is the bestissimo. Say, does it seem unreasonably bright in here to anyone else?
Saturday Night Live hasn’t posted any of Tom Petty’s amazing live SNL performances on the internet, although they ran the 1979 episode with this killer version of “Refugee” in their rerun slot Saturday night. So here are the three seconds of Tom-Petty-on-Saturday-Night-Live we can legally share with you. Fortunately, they’re incredible.