There have already been changes to the cast of “Saturday Night Live” with the firings of not only Brooks Wheelan, but also John Milhiser and Noel Wells, along with the departure of Nasim Pedrad. But another big change will debut in the 40th season premiere later this month.
The New York Times was first to report, followed by confirmation with a press release from NBC, that stand-up comedian and “The Daily Show” correspondent Michael Che will be taking a seat at the Weekend Update desk, replacing Cecily Strong as co-anchor along with last season’s addition of Colin Jost.
Producer Lorne Michaels says they’ve been trying a number of different combinations to get the Weekend Update desk just right. He acknowledged that last year struggled to get into a groove with Cecily Strong joining Seth Meyers at the desk before he left to host “Late Night” only to have her shaken up again with the addition of Jost at the desk. Michaels says:
It struggled to find an identity last season. Because what had come before had been pretty brilliant. This is about a new era, what feels appropriate for now. That’s why we did a lot of combinations and tests, and this is kind of where we came out.
It will be the first time two male cast members have shared the desk, and also the first time an African-American cast member has been a Weekend Update anchor as well. Frankly, I would have liked to have seen Strong share the desk with Che, mainly since Jost seemed to be pretty shaky last season, but he is one of the head writers after all, and apparently has a really good friendship and working relationship with Che in the writers’ room.
If you don’t know about Michael Che yet, the guy is a comedic phenomenon. He’s one of the more recent additions to “The Daily Show”and just recently delivered this gem on the Comedy Central satire show:
This summer he’s been touring on Funny or Die’s Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival, with just a few years of stand-up under his belt. I got to see Che on the Chicago stop of the tour, and he was incredible. The crowd gave him a huge response, more than the other comedians who opened before the likes of Amy Schumer and Bill Burr. Check out his set from an appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman” from a couple years ago:
Che will make a great addition to Weekend Update, and I’m very interested to see what he can do with Jost behind the desk. As for Cecily Strong, she’s going back to being a full-time cast member, and Lorne Michaels said that she specifically asked to appear more frequently in sketches. And if you’ve been watching her on “SNL,” you know that’s good news.
And that’s not the only good news coming for the 40th season of “Saturday Night Live.” An anniversary special has already been slated to air on February 15, 2015 with cast members from many of the seasons coming together again, but Michaels and NBC are also doing something cool with reruns of old episodes.
Usually, the hour before a new episode of “SNL” a recent repeat is aired (Michaels says, “Generally we go with the one we nominated for an Emmy.”). But this season, they’ll be airing condensed episodes from all the previous seasons. Michaels added that there will be some kind of introduction for context so viewers aren’t confused as to what’s going on when they see episodes from decades past.
Well, it sounds like there’s a lot of big things on the horizon for “Saturday Night Live” from the latest cast changes to the 40th anniversary (though it won’t be the same without Don Pardo), and I’ll be delivering my normal recaps beginning with the season premiere on September 27th with host Chris Pratt from Guardians of the Galaxy.
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