Matt Villines, who worked as a director and writer for both Saturday Night Live and HBO’s Funny Or Die, passed away today at the age of 39, Deadline reports. The comic had been engulfed in a battle with cancer, but lost; he died surrounded by family in his Los Angeles home on Saturday.
It’s a sad day for lovers of comedy everywhere, even if at first, it was not clear why. So many writers and directors–behind the scenes guys–go unnoticed for their work, even when their work brings so many to stitches.
Matt Villines was such a man. Beloved in his community for his deft and ingenious work with humor, some of his shorts for SNL were legendary. Alongside his long-time partner in comedy Osmany “Oz” Rodriguez, the two created dozens of skits for the parody show. One of the most notable was “(Do It On My) Twin Bed,” a hefty chunk-of-time digital short that featured the episode’s host Jimmy Fallon and cast members Beck Bennett, Aidy Bryant, Nasim Pedrad, Vanessa Bayer, Noel Wells, Cecily Strong, and Kate McKinnon. The musical skit was all about bringing old boyfriends home and having to share the girlfriends’s old childhood twin beds to, ahem, while their parents and relatives were in the next room over (or sometimes in the same one).
“(Do It On My) Twin Bed” was nominated for an Emmy, and though it did not win, it was an honor that so few hard-working comics get to see; luckily, Matt Villines was one of the ones that did. His other works for SNL included “Sad Mouse,” featuring singer Bruno Mars as the main man, well, mouse. That digital short trailed a depressed man dressed in an off-brand Mickey Mouse costume, like the kinds one sees all around Times Square, as he wandered around that oh-so-commercial-and-lit-up square in downtown Manhattan.
Of course, SNL was not Villines’s whole life. The comic originated in Tulsa, Oklahoma and stuck around in his home state to attend college at the University of Oklahoma, but he ended up moving on to the Los Angeles Film School. It was there that he met his lifetime comic partner Oz, and the two worked tirelessly together until landing their first job at Adult Swim in the Super Deluxe video website in the late 2000s. From there, the duo catapulted to work on Funny Or Die, directing popular video after popular video through 2011. They worked on Funny Or Die Presents on HBO after that–together, Matt and Oz produced memorable skits like “Charlie Sheen’s Winning Recipes,” starring Charlie Sheen; “Burning Bridges with Beau Bridges;” and more, which are still available to be seen on Funny Or Die‘s website, Villines’s personal site, and on HBO.
In 2012, Villines and Rodriguez joined up with SNL to fill the void in the digital shorts that Andy Samberg left when he and the rest of the creative Lonely Island talent departed. His last complete work is a full-feature movie, Brothers in Law, which is still in post-production (and will be continued to completion). It stars Bobby Moynihan and Taran Killem.
Of course, a creative comedy mind like Villines is being memorialized by his fellows at SNL and everywhere else his presence touched. SNL members and alum from Seth Meyers to Chris Kelly posted tweets remembering the man they knew.
— Seth Meyers (@sethmeyers) July 11, 2016
Matt Villines was a WONDERFUL man. Im so lucky I got to work with him. He was funny, kind and incredibly talented. https://t.co/PX3uhyZpTf
— Chris Kelly (@imchriskelly) July 11, 2016
Villines leaves behind his wife, Linda, and his sister and parents.