What Up with That

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"What Up with That?" is a recurring sketch on the NBC television series Saturday Night Live which first aired in 2009. It stars Kenan Thompson as Diondre Cole,[1] host of a talk show on BET. Supporting characters include Taran Killam as the show's announcer (originally Will Forte), Vanessa Bayer (originally Jenny Slate) and Cecily Strong (originally Nasim Pedrad) as backup singers/dancers Pippa and Piper, respectively, Fred Armisen as Giuseppe, a Kenny G-like saxophone player, and Jason Sudeikis as Vance, an overzealous backup dancer.[2] The sketch has incorporated unannounced cameo appearances by a number of celebrities.[3][4] In addition to this, cast members frequently play roles adding to the chaos during Cole's performances, such as Paul Brittain and Abby Elliott's dancing performances as Vili Fualaau and Mary Kay Letourneau, a student and teacher who made news for their sexual relationship.[5]


The show opens with Cole singing the show's lengthy theme song, "What Up with That". Cole welcomes the viewers to the show but his introduction to the show's topic generally leads into an encore of the theme song. Once the encore is finished he then introduces the show's three guests, the third always being Bill Hader playing Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham. As soon as the first guest begins talking, Cole echoes their comments in a sing-song manner (often disrupting them), eventually leaping back up to begin singing the theme song yet again. In this manner, the encore performances completely take up the show's time, and the other two guests do not get to speak (although Robin Williams did have a couple of lines in the December 4, 2010 episode,[6] as well as Kate Upton in the February 18, 2012 episode), including Lindsey Buckingham, who, according to Cole, has attended dozens of times without getting interviewed but still remains a good sport.

In the May 14, 2011 episode, both the Bill Hader impersonation and the real Lindsey Buckingham appeared. The opening guest was that week's SNL musical guest, Paul Simon, who opened his interview by complaining about how Diondre invites Buckingham each week, but never gives him a chance to talk. While Hader's impersonation had no lines once again, the real Buckingham played guitar and spoke up for him.

In a backstage clip from the show on February 18, 2012, Cole lets Buckingham (Hader) list the US Presidents and their birthdays. This marked the first time that Hader's Buckingham ever received an opportunity to speak.

In the December 15, 2012, episode, Samuel L. Jackson said "fuck" and "bullshit" on the live broadcast, prompting Cole to respond with "Come on, Sam...that costs money."[7]


The skit has received mixed reviews. Television web site Hitfix applauded Thompson's performance, stating that it works because he can actually sing.[8]

However, Entertainment Weekly suggested that the skit was getting old over time, asking: "How many more times can they fall back on this one?"[9]

Its popularity is also evident in the Nickelodeon crossover episode iParty with Victorious, an episode in which Thompson guest stars as himself. When Andre (Leon G. Thomas III) reveals that he will be hosting a party at Thompson's house, Rex the puppet sings part of the What Up with That theme song.[citation needed]


# Original airdate Guest Celebrity cameos
1 October 17, 2009[10] Gerard Butler[11] James Franco
2 November 21, 2009[12] Joseph Gordon-Levitt Al Gore,[13] Mindy Kaling
3 December 19, 2009[14] James Franco Mike Tyson,[3] Jack McBrayer
4 March 6, 2010[15] Zach Galifianakis Paul Rudd, Frank Rich
5 October 2, 2010 Bryan Cranston Morgan Freeman, Ernest Borgnine[4]
6 December 4, 2010 Robert De Niro Robin Williams
7 May 14, 2011 Ed Helms Paul Simon, Chris Colfer, Lindsey Buckingham
8 February 18, 2012 Maya Rudolph Bill O'Reilly, Kate Upton
9 December 15, 2012 Martin Short Samuel L. Jackson, Carrie Brownstein
10 February 15, 2015 40th Anniversary Special As part of a montage of musical sketches

In addition to these sketches, Kenan Thompson as Diondre Cole, Jason Sudeikis as the backup dancer, and Fred Armisen as the saxophonist appeared in the monologue of the April 17, 2010 episode hosted by Ryan Phillippe in which various SNL characters question why MacGruber has a movie yet they do not.[16]


  1. ^ "Watch What Up With That?: Paul Simon, Chris Colfer and Lindsey Buckingham from Saturday Night Live on NBC.com". NBC. Retrieved 2016-05-27.
  2. ^ "SNL "What's Up With That?" Sketch, Zach Galifianakis, Paul Rudd (Video)". Tv.popcrunch.com. 2010-03-07. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
  3. ^ a b "Mike Tyson Dances On SNL's "What's Up With That" (VIDEO)". Huffingtonpost.com. 2009-12-20. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
  4. ^ a b "Ernest Borgnine Morgan Freeman "SNL" Sketch "What's Up With That?"". Popcrunch.com. 2010-10-03. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
  5. ^ "Celebrityhollywood.net". Celebrityhollywood.net. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
  6. ^ "Saturday Night Live: What's up With That?". Hulu. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
  7. ^ "How many times did Samuel L. Jackson swear on SNL last night?". MSN. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  8. ^ Ellwood, Gregory (2009-10-18). "Recap: Gerard Butler sings, Shakira howls and the return of The Rock Obama on SNL". HitFix.com. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
  9. ^ Shaw, Jessica (2010-10-03). "'Saturday Night Live' recap: Bryan Cranston and the case of the disappearing host | PopWatch | EW.com". Popwatch.ew.com. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
  10. ^ "SNL Archives | Episodes | Details". Snl.jt.org. 2009-10-17. Retrieved 2010-11-05.
  11. ^ "Saturday Night Live: What Up With That?". Videogum. 2009-10-19. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
  12. ^ "SNL Archives | Episodes | Details". Snl.jt.org. 2009-11-21. Retrieved 2010-11-05.
  13. ^ [1] Archived January 10, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "SNL Archives | Episodes | Details". Snl.jt.org. 2009-12-19. Retrieved 2010-11-05.
  15. ^ "SNL Archives | Episodes | Details". Snl.jt.org. 2010-03-06. Retrieved 2010-11-05.
  16. ^ "SNL Archives | Episodes | Details". Snl.jt.org. 2010-04-17. Retrieved 2010-11-05.