Before he joined the "Saturday Night Live" cast, before he won an Emmy Award with Justin Timberlake for the irreverent music video "Dick in a Box," Samberg worked as a writer for the MTV Movie Awards. He returns to host the show Sunday at the Gibson Amphitheatere.
The 30-year-old, who was born in Mill Valley and graduated from Berkeley High School, promises to bring his quirky comedic sensibility -- and some new short films -- to the 18th annual MTV kudo fest, which honors top performances as well as the "best kiss" and "best fight" of the past year in cinema.
On a patio just outside the show venue, a casually dressed Samberg talked about his happy homecoming and what fans can expect from his appearance on the MTV stage.
So is this like returning to the scene of the crime?
Samberg: Me and my two buddies that I work with, Akiva (Schaffer) and Jorma (Taccone), were writers for the show four years ago and we wrote for Lindsay Lohan one year and Jimmy Fallon the next. Jimmy was actually the one who recommended us to "SNL," so it's a real full circle.
What will Sunday's show will be like?
Samberg: It's going to be action packed. There's going to be some surprises -- nothing I can divulge, but it will involve celebrities. It's going to be great. There's going to be some pre-taped stuff, some digital shorts-style stuff, and a lot of fun collaborations. And obviously Kings of Leon and Eminem are performing, so they'll be great. And the list of presenters keeps getting longer and longer. It's a lot of really rad people.
You're making some new digital shorts for the show. Can you give us any hints about them?
Samberg: There's something with a musical element.
Will there be return appearances from some of your previous collaborators?
Samberg: There's a good chance of that. I'm not saying any names.
How different is this from your work on "Saturday Night Live"?
Samberg: Certainly hosting is a lot more akin to doing standup or doing like "Update" features on "SNL" than the actual sketch stuff, I think. In terms of doing the pre-taped, short film stuff, there's definitely going to be a lot of similarities to what we do on the show and what we're doing here.
That's fun for you?
Samberg: I think that's why they asked me to do it.
How do you prepare for a gig like this?
Samberg: I've been watching past versions of it. I've seen every MTV Movie Awards just as a fan, so I kind of know in general what goes and how it works. In a lot of ways, it's just like all awards shows in that it's just a complete train wreck. But that's kind of why you watch.