It was 1995. Saturday Night Live was in one of its more blah stages, putting up a rote performances in each new episode. The heyday of great 70s cast members like Chevy Chase was long gone, as was the topsy-turvy 1980s.
So here comes a young Will Ferrell to give the 8-minute audition in the video above, embodying every element of what makes him a comedy star today.
First we see Ferrell's now-classic impression of late Chicago Cubs announcer Harry Caray reading the lead in a serious, Arthur Miller-style play. Ferrell's version of Caray never changed in his entire 7 years on the show—it didn't have to; it was perfect.
Next Ferrell is the late Senator Ted Kennedy doing stand-up comedy. He nails the distinctive Kennedy Boston Brahmin accent while telling hacky jokes that also sting a little if you know anything about the Democrat's controversial career.
Then Ferrell does his "Get off the Shed" golf dad at a barbecue. It's hilarious, and gives us everything we like about his brand of comedy—the ability to go from laid-back suburbanite casually chatting at the grill to enraged, almost unhinged father and back again without missing a beat. It's kind of pure, distilled Will Ferrell.
Ferrell hosts the new episode of SNL airing January 27. His musical guest will be Grammy nominee and country music superstar Chris Stapleton.
If nothing else, this audition tape is all the evidence you need to know that you don't want to miss it.