Mikey Day and His 'SNL' Buddies Bake a Fresh Comedic Confection

"What are we doing right now? What is this?" the cast member says of his gig hosting Netflix's 'Is It Cake?'

Photo courtesy of Netflix

BY Vish KhannaPublished Apr 11, 2024

The Season 3 finale of Netflix's baking design challenge series Is It Cake? features a rather unique panel of celebrity judges. Though comedians often guest star, this was the first time that all three judges have had the exact same pedigree: they'd all been cast members on Saturday Night Live.

"It's always fun to have SNL buddies come through," says the show's host, Mikey Day, who also happens to be a current cast member and writer on Saturday Night Live. "It's a pretty quick day for the judges in terms of the time commitment, but it's also fun. You're just kind of hanging out and sometimes I'll just look at them like, 'What are we doing right now? What is this?'"

"Ego [Nwodim] did really well when she came on," Day continues, discussing a current SNL castmate. "She was fantastic. She has an eye for finding the cake, I will say that."

Day has a particularly fond memory of former SNL cast member Beck Bennet showing up on the Cake set.

"Y'know, a lot of [judges] watch the show, and it's cool to see them see the cakes in person, too. Like, Beck's face was so funny. He's like, 'What is happening?' Because you see it on TV, and you're like, 'I think I could do that.' But then in person, you see them, and it's kind of a shock, that first reveal."

Day's been at SNL since 2013 and has hosted Is It Cake? since it launched in 2022. His manager asked him if he was familiar with an internet phenomenon involving videos of hyper-realistic cakes that were artfully designed to fool onlookers, who couldn't tell if a large knife would be cutting through a fresh pair of kicks or, wait, was that pair of shoes actually cake?

The show itself spun that trend into a series in which bakers compete for cash, with designed cakes lined up against inedible replicas, so that a panel of celebrity judges can determine which of the options is cake.

With his SNL chops, Day is a wonderful host, improvising with the bakers and the judges, and even coming up with comedy bits and characters who pop up in between the relatively stress-free intensity of the very friendly competition.  

"There's something about it that lends itself to family viewing," Day says, "because especially in that first season, just shooting it, you could feel like, 'Oh, this would be something fun you could watch with your mom and dad.' You don't have to feel weird. I remember watching a movie with my parents and then there'd be a kissing scene or a love scene, and then just feeling like I wanted to melt into the couch. Like, 'Please be over.'"

He continues, "This is just something fun for the whole family. I wasn't aware that it would connect with kids so much and that they'd watch it over and over and really be into the preparation and construction of it. And I'm not sure exactly why. Maybe there's an element of deception and trickery that's fun. It's almost kind of like watching magicians prepare a trick or something, and there's a lot of imagination involved, and the structure of the show is very fun too."

Though Day says the worlds of Is It Cake? and Saturday Night Live couldn't be more different, he does think one aspect of them is worth comparing.

"I don't want to say other jobs are necessarily easy. It's just the amount of work and kind of pressure that goes into [SNL] every week — with other jobs, you're like, 'Whoa, we have a couple of days to film one episode? This is fantastic!' So, there's definitely a comfort level and an ease to other projects when you're used to the SNL schedule and the grind of it."

Beyond Day and his SNL cohorts, many of the show's guest judges are edgier comedians like Sam Morril, Dulcé Sloan and Jillian Bell, among others. It seems likely that, on an unscripted show, they might cross the line with their material from time to time.

"They're aware of what kind of show it is, but if things wander into double entendre territory, in editing they'll keep it down," Day explains. "We had one episode this season where the cakes were shaped like, 'All right, your log and your snake…' There were a lot of things that you could take to mean something else, and I'm sure I referenced them at some point, just because at the end of the day, I'm a little child. But they do a good job cutting that stuff out."

That's not to suggest that Day hasn't heard praise and admiration for the show from unexpected sources.

"This season on SNL, Ice Spice was a musical guest, and we were in the breezeway about to go out there for good-nights at the end of the show, where we all wave goodbye," Day recalls. "And Ice Spice mentioned, 'I love Is It Cake? I want to come on that show.'"

Day recalls, "I was like, 'If you want to, you are absolutely welcome, consider it done, Ice Spice.' I mean, who knows, she might be busy when it comes down to it, but that was really cool. It would just be so much fun to have Ice Spice as a judge. Like, 'Okay, our first judge, you might know her... Ladies and gentlemen, Ice Spice! Yeah, it would be awesome."

That kind of compliment isn't unusual. "A lot of kids watch it," Days notes. "So, a lot of celebrities will have seen it and are like, 'My kids love your show. I hear your voice on in my home all the time!'"

With Season 3 having just launched, Day remains hopeful that Is It Cake? will return to Netflix, and he's keeping busy beyond that. According to IMDb, he somehow portrays the Rice Krispie named Crackle in Unfrosted, the forthcoming comedy about the invention of the breakfast treat, Pop-Tarts.

"I know, there's lots of sugary sweets in my career," Day says. "It's Jerry Seinfeld's movie. It's very fun. It has an insane cast. There're so many people in it, some I worked with, but so many people I didn't even know were in the movie that weren't in scenes that I was in. And Jerry Seinfeld hasn't written and directed a movie in a while, so it's really cool."

As we're speaking, Day in in the midst of yet another production week at SNL, following a great episode helmed by Kristen Wiig, which featured a brief cameo by the next host, Ryan Gosling.

"America fell in love with Ryan Gosling," Day says. "Another Canadian. It just goes to show you that Canada puts out a lot of wonderful people. Because not only is he a beautiful man — which anyone can, I think, objectively agree on — he's super nice. He's hosted a couple times before, and it's always fun when he hosts the show."  

Listen to this entire conversation with Mikey Day on the Kreative Kontrol podcast below.

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