Next year sounds like it’s going to be very difficult for Lorne Michaels and his staple late night sketch series Saturday Night Live. Bill Hader just recently announced his departure from the series after the season finale this weekend with host Ben Affleck – but he’s not the only one leaving.
When news of Hader’s departure hit, at the time, longtime cast members Fred Armisen and Jason Sudeikis had not yet decided if they were going to come back for another season. Now, according to a report, Armisen has decided that he will leave the show after 11 seasons as a cast member, and Sudeikis is “probably” leaving the show as well.
The New York Post has an unnamed source at NBC with this information, and honestly, it’s not all that surprising. In the case of Sudeikis, the comedian almost left the series after last season, but opted to stick around to fill the shoes of then presidential candidate Mitt Romney. As for Armisen, he’s been on the cusp of leaving, mostly because of his success with the IFC series Portlandia.
Another issue for SNL is the departure of Seth Meyers next year. Thankfully, Meyers will stick around through the first half of next season and then head out for his new gig hosting Late Night on NBC when Jimmy Fallon takes over The Tonight Show.
So what does this mean for SNL?
Well, it will likely be one of those challenging years when Michaels attempts to put together another great roster of rising comedic talent. If Armisen and Sudeikis leave, Kenan Thompson will be the most senior member of the cast with 10 seasons under his belt, followed by Bobby Moynihan who joined the cast in 2008. The rest of the cast has only been on board a few seasons, and many have not become viral sensations or powerhouse players with many memorable characters to call their own.
The good news is that Michaels has an uncanny eye for talent. Names that start out on SNL usually take some time to become well-known to audiences, and some don’t even find their footing until after they’ve come and gone from the series. But when you look at some of the top comedic talent today, both on film and TV, many of the bigger names started off at SNL, whether they were cast members or writers. This includes Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Kristen Wiig, and those are just the recent names.
If Michaels is going to salvage the show, the best option is to make John Mulaney the head writer. He’s the perfect replacement for Meyers, and it would even make sense to have him inherit the Weekend Update desk. The young comedian has appeared on the segment before, and there’s no other current cast member who can fill Meyers’ shoes so well. Plus, his pilot was not picked up by NBC, so it would be a great fallback.
As for filling out the rest of the cast, we’ll see who Michaels pulls from the usual stomping grounds of comedy clubs and improv groups in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.
Still, this could be the most crippling blow to the show since 1995 when Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Kevin Nealon, Jay Mohr and Chris Elliott left the show, just a year after Phil Hartman and Rob Schneider had left the series. Some people think this kind of changing of the guard could be the time when Saturday Night Live fails spectacularly, but I’d love to see the show thrive in spite of these recent cast departures.
We’ll see what happens over the summer. In the meantime, the season finale of Saturday Night Live airs May 18th @11:30pm on NBC.
Source: The New York Post