Brow Beat

John Mulaney and Kyle Mooney Reveal What Really Happened to The Shape of Water’s Fish Man in Cut-for-Time SNL Sketch

SNL can’t always fit everything into a planned broadcast, and thus exists their treasure trove of “cut-for-time” sketches. The illustrious sketch comedy show has been uploading unaired skits to their YouTube channel since 2014, and sometimes the stifled genius—from Aidy Bryant’s Workplace Warriors to an apocalyptic French fry rap—is just too great to ignore. Case in point: Saturday’s trippy The Shape of Water short “Fish Dreams.”

“Fish Dreams” follows Fish Man, the literal fish-man humanoid from Guillermo del Toro’s Oscars darling The Shape of Water, as he tries to shake off that fickle beast called fame. (For the record, The Asset’s scripted name was actually “Amphibian Man,” or, to hear star Doug Jones tell it, “Charlie.”) Despite offers from his agent to play the lead role in upcoming Scorsese project Fishfellas, Mr. Man, played by Kyle Mooney, is no longer feeling the movie magic. He goes full-throttle with his photography, which looks like bad Flickr art circa 2005, and ends up in dire financial straits. Meanwhile, his best friend Roger—also a fish man, apparently with less literal-minded parents—is living it up as America’s new amphibian celebrity. He takes the role in the blockbusting Fishfellas, gets to host a meta-SNL, and, oh yeah, gay-interspecies-marries Adam Driver.

It’s a story that delights in its own triteness. Roger, played by guest star John Mulaney, is every bit the typical, rudely too-famous friend who eventually has a crisis of conscience, while Mooney’s tortured-artist Fish Man is hilariously overwrought. The sketch works so well because it’s a story we all know—except it’s absolutely fucking insane. Adam Driver makes an actual appearance, for instance, along with his biologically impossible fish-son.

We still haven’t figured out why certain SNL sketches don’t make to air, or why most of them are Kyle Mooney’s. In the case of “Fish Dreams,” one thing is for certain: the hair and makeup team must be losing sleep over all that unused prosthetics work.