This has been a pretty difficult year for Saturday Night Live. With the departures of long-time cast members Bill Hader, Jason Sudeikis and Fred Armisen, not to mention Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg last year, it’s going to be hard for the sketch-comedy show to find replacements that can live up to these fantastic stars. But the show must go on, with changes in tow. NBC has announced the addition of six new cast members who will join SNL when season 39 premieres on September 28, as well as naming a new Weekend Update co-anchor.
Meet the New SNL Cast Members
First off, the newbies: Beck Bennett, John Milhiser, Kyle Mooney, Mike O’Brien, Noel Wells and Brooks Wheelan. The rumor mill was swirling this past summer over the potential additions. Now that it’s official, the big question is, who are these people? So let’s get right into it and answer that question:
Beck Bennett is the most well known of the group. He’s featured in the AT&T commercials where he’s talking to kids and they end up saying hilarious things. Based on these ads, it seems like he could fit in well on SNL.
John Milhiser is known for his parodies and impersonations, including a Step Up movie parody called Clap It Up. Everyone’s saying he could be the next Andy Samberg. Check out Clap It Up below and let us know if you agree.
Kyle Mooney has guest starred on Parks and Rec and Wilfred, and if you’re a regular viewer of Jimmy Kimmel Live, you might have seen his man-on-the-street interviews. Based on the following video, it seems like he will be doing regular voice impressions and accents on SNL.
Sometimes being on the writing staff can eventually pay off big-time. For example, Mike O’Brien, who has been an SNL writer since 2009, is getting a promotion — being a featured on-screen cast member. But he hasn’t always been behind-the-scenes: he’s also the star of the web series 7 Minutes in Heaven. Here he is with Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers:
Noel Wells is not only an indie film actress, but she also has hilarious videos on YouTube, including a series in which she impersonates Zooey Deschanel — spot on, if you ask me — and even Michelle Bachmann, among others. If a comic can look and sound like various celebrities, they’ll easily fit right in on SNL, and I don’t expect it to be any different for Wells.
Finally, Brooks Wheelan is a stand-up comedian who ended up on Comedy Central’s list of Top 10 Artists to Watch in 2012. USA Today reports that he’ll also be an SNL writer as well.
New Weekend Update Co-Anchor: Cecily Strong
Creator Lorne Michaels revealed in a New York Times interview that when the new season begins, Cecily Strong will be sitting alongside Seth Meyers at the Weekend Update desk as a new co-anchor. She’s rising up fast, considering she’s only been a cast member for one year. But it’s well-deserved because after Wiig left, many were left wondering if there was ever going to be another woman who could be a break-out hit like her, and Strong fit the bill quickly.
“Cecily, from the first show, was right there,” Michaels said, “She exploded.” One of her standout characters is the Girl You Wished You Hadn’t Started a Conversation with at a Party, which she does a great job at.
He initially envisioned having Strong and Meyers share the desk for the first part of the season, then transition into Strong going solo after Meyers leaves to host Late Night in February 2014. But that plan might change. It looks like his talk show will not have new episodes on Fridays, which could free up some time for him to continue contributing to Weekend Update.
Michaels also mentioned that Tim Robinson, who joined the show last season, will no longer be a cast member, but will instead be on the writing staff.
Are you excited for the new cast members? And do you think Cecily Strong will do a great job as Weekend Update co-anchor?
Saturday Night Live season 39 premieres on September 28 at 11:30pm on NBC, with host Tina Fey and musical guest Arcade Fire. Miley Cyrus and Bruce Willis will host the following two weeks on October 5 and 12, respectively.
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(Image courtesy of NBC)