Saturday Night Live co-head writer Colin Jost is joining the cast and taking Seth Meyers’ chair at the Weekend Update desk beside Cecily Strong on March 1st following Meyers’ exit from his post next Saturday. Meyers is, of course, departing SNL to take the Late Night baton from former Update host Jimmy Fallon (who is taking over the Tonight Show from Jay Leno). But while all eyes will be on NBC’s new late night alignment, Jost’s new Update gig comes with its own impressive history.
Cecily Strong was, according to the succession plan that producer Lorne Michaels’ revealed back in September, destined to carve out her own volume in Update’s history, becoming the segment’s first solo female anchor since Jane Curtin when Meyers left the show. At the time, though, Michaels also seemed to think that there was a chance that Meyers would continue at the anchor desk through the season, thanks to his new job’s Monday-Thursday schedule, thus making SNL the world’s most high-profile part-time job.
Shaky in her debut, Strong improved steadily, inspiring me to say that she was “beyond ready to take sole possession of that desk” in our review of last week’s episode. Apparently, Michaels had other ideas, but it is entirely possible that isn’t a knock on Strong, but rather a view that tandem hosts work best for the show, continuing a tradition that had been re-vitalized with the Jimmy Fallon/Tina Fey team, the Fey/Amy Poehler team, and the Poehler/Seth Meyers team, and continued with Meyers and Strong, who worked quite well together.
It’s also possible that Strong’s solid performance gave Michaels enough confidence to pair her with a new cast member rather than someone like Taran Killam or Kate McKinnon; though pulling from the show’s more established personalities would have meant abandoning their respective Update recurring characters as Strong did when she ascended.
How will Jost perform? The Update job – unlike any other on that show – is not one that lends itself to guess-work. Someone can look good on paper but flub the delivery, as Strong did early on with a looser than optimal demeanor.
At the end of the day, though, Weekend Update is still a pretend news broadcast, so that has to be a part of the performance, and while we can’t know for certain about Jost, he seems to have a relaxed and confident performance style when doing stand-up (as he has done on Fallon’s Late Night show many times). He’s also an accomplished writer (whose first film, Staten Island Summer is set t debut this summer), and in the absence of Meyers and Update head writer Alex Baze, it’s entirely possible that Jost is going to have a chance to not just take Meyers’ chair, but also shape the Update segment as it heads into this new era.
Saturday Night Live returns this Saturday @11:30PM ET on NBC with Jonah Hill as host and Bastille as musical guest.