Samberg was born in Berkeley, California. His mother, Marjorie "Margi" (née Marrow), is an elementary school teacher, and his father, Joe, is a photographer. He has two sisters, Johanna and Darrow. His family is Jewish, and his maternal grandfather, industrial psychologist and philanthropist Alfred J. Marrow, served as the executive chair of the American Jewish Congress. Samberg has described himself as "not particularly religious." He is a third cousin of U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin (their maternal grandfathers were first cousins). Samberg discovered Saturday Night Live as a child, while sneaking past his parents to watch professional wrestling on television. He became obsessed with the show, and his devotion to comedy was frustrating to teachers who felt he was unfocused on his schoolwork. Samberg graduated from Berkeley High School in 1996, where he became interested in creative writing, and has stated: "[Writing classes] were the ones that I put all my effort into...that's what I cared about and that's what I ended up doing." He attended college at University of California, Santa Cruz, for two years before transferring to New York University, from which he graduated in 2000. After five years of dating, Samberg announced his engagement to musician Joanna Newsom in February 2013 and they married on September 21, 2013 in Big Sur, California.
He majored in experimental film, where he starred as "Monkey" in the music video for James Kochalka's song "Monkey vs. Robot". Before joining the late night comedy show SNL, Samberg was a YouTube and Internet star. He first began making comedy videos with his two friends Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone. When YouTube was created in 2005, the streaming of their videos became much more widespread over the Internet. "With respect to some of these YouTube stars, Hollywood talent agencies have recognized the revenue potential of these entertainers and are signing them into development deals." He became a featured player on the show in part because of the work he'd done on his own sketch comedy website TheLonelyIsland.com. that helped them land an agent and eventually get hired at SNL. Prior to joining its cast, Samberg was (and remains) a member of the comedy troupe The Lonely Island (along with Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer). The trio began writing for Saturday Night Live in 2005 and released their debut album, Incredibad, in 2009. Samberg has appeared in numerous theatrical films, commercials, music videos and has hosted special events, including the 2009 MTV Movie Awards. In 2012, Samberg delivered the Class Day speech at Harvard University. In September 2012, he plays Dale Ashbrick in a BBC Three comedy show, Cuckoo. He starred with Adam Sandler twice in That's My Boy and Hotel Transylvania. Samberg stars in a new comedy police show, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which premiered on the FOX network on September 17, 2013.
In September 2005, Samberg joined SNL as a featured player along with his two friends as the show's writing staff. Though his live sketch roles were limited in his first year, he appeared in many prerecorded sketches including commercial parodies and various other filmed segments. On December 17, 2005, he and Chris Parnell starred in the Digital Short show "Lazy Sunday", a nerdcorehip hop song performed by two Manhattanites on a quest to see the film The Chronicles of Narnia. The short quickly became an Internet phenomenon and garnered Samberg significant media and public attention, as did "Dick in a Box," a duet with Justin Timberlake that won a Creative Arts Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics. His comedy troupe's collaboration with T-Pain, the "I'm on a Boat" music video, had over 56 million views on YouTube after debuting on February 7, 2009, and was nominated for a Grammy Award. Another digital short, "Motherlover" (also featuring Timberlake), was released on May 10, 2009 (to commemorate Mother's Day), and is a sequel of "Dick in a Box." Outside of his prerecorded segments, he also participated in recurring live segments, such as his Blizzard Man sketch. On June 1, 2012, Samberg's spokesperson announced that he had left the show.