Andy Samberg Says ‘SNL’ Took a ‘Heavy Toll’ and He Exited Because Life Was Falling Apart: ‘I Hadn’t Slept in Seven Years’ and ‘Couldn’t Endure It Anymore’

Andy Samberg was a recent guest on Kevin Hart‘s Peacock interview series “Hart to Heart” and got honest about his exit from “Saturday Night Live” 12 years ago. The comedian was one of the sketch comedy show’s biggest stars during his tenure, which ran from 2005 to 2012.

Alongside his Lonely Island members Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, Samberg turned digital shorts into one of “SNL’s” most popular and viral segments through such iconic videos as “Dick in a Box” and “Natalie Rap.” However, Samberg told Hart that “I was falling apart in my life” behind the scenes come 2012 and he couldn’t “endure it anymore.”

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“Physically, it was taking a heavy toll on me and I got to a place where I was like I hadn’t slept in seven years basically,” Samberg said. “We were writing stuff for the live show Tuesday night all night, the table read Wednesday, then being told now come up with a digital short so write all Thursday, all Thursday night, don’t sleep, get up, shoot Friday, edit all night Friday night and into Saturday, so it’s basically like four days a week you’re not sleeping, for seven years. So I just kinda fell apart physically.”

Samberg said working on “SNL” changed after Schaffer and Taccone departed, effectively leaving him alone as the sole digital shorts creator for his final two years.

“I was basically left in charge of making the shorts, which I never pretended like I could do without them,” Samberg said. “We made stuff I’m really proud of in my last two years, but there’s something about the songs that I can only do with Akiva and Jorm. It’s just how it is, we’re just a band in that way.”

Samberg consulted with his former “SNL” co-stars like Amy Poehler when the time came to decide whether or not he would continue with the show. Part of the reason he was so nervous to leave was because not being on “SNL” meant he’d no longer have such an instantaneous creative outlet.

“I was like, once I go, when I have an idea, I can’t just do it,” Samberg said. “The craziest thing about working there is once you get going, if you’re just in the shower and you have an idea that shit can be on television in three days, which is the most like intoxicating feeling.”

“They told me straight up, ‘We prefer you would stay,’ and I was like, ‘Oh, that makes it harder,’” Samberg added about his exit. “But I just was like, I think to get back to a feeling of like mental and physical health, I have to do it. So I did it and it was a very difficult choice.”

“Saturday Night Live” is now preparing to enter into its 50th season this fall on NBC. Samberg’s full interview with Hart is now available to stream on Peacock.

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