Earlier this week, it was announced that Bill Hader would be leaving Saturday Night Live at the end of this year. I was upset. Bill Hader in my opinion was pound-for-pound the funniest cast member of the latest incarnation. Yes, I think he was funnier than Kristin Wiig and Andy Samberg. The news also broke that Seth Meyers would also be leaving SNL to begin work on Late Night with Seth Meyers in the winter. He’ll be taking over for Jimmy Fallon who moves to the big show. This also is a loss. After Tiny Fey, he took over as head-writer and Weekend Update co-host, and later host. I always liked him because he seems like a genuinely nice guy. Now it is being reported that Fred Armisen will also be leaving at the end of this year, and Jason Sudeikis, it has been rumored, will likely follow suit.
For those at home keeping score, Kristin Wiig, Andy Samberg, Bill Hader, Seth Meyers, Fred Armisen, AND Jason Sudeikis, have left or will be leaving SNL by the end of this year. Minus Wiig and Samberg, they are all some of the longest tenured cast members in the shows history. Meyers is second only to Darrell Hammond! This is not uncommon. You cannot sustain a show like SNL for almost 40 years without turnover, but this is one of those rare, whole-hog transitions the likes of which we haven’t seen since the mid 90’s. Remember when Spade, Sandler, Schneider, Hartman etc. all left the show and it was forced to hit the reset button with people like Chris Kattan, Cheri Oteri, and an unknown Will Ferrell? It was rough in the beginning. However, the show went on and things got better. The full reload only happens every now and again, and it is something that terrifies and excites me.
If you look at the remaining cast right now, this transition is going to be rough. Kenan is the longest tenured member, followed by Bobby Moynihan, who it seems like just showed up like yesterday. Right now the cast is a lot like the NFL draft of this past year. There are no real breakout stars, but a lot of value in the second and third rounds. What SNL needs to do is first figure out who can hold down the fort that is Weekend Update. It has been incredibly stable over the past 15 or so years, so the next choice of host, needs to be taken very seriously. I am not even sure that host is currently in the cast. They are in a rebuilding year, so more than anything, I think they need to get some more bodies. Beyond your opinions of the cast members who are leaving, no one can deny they are losing a ton of seasoned bodies. The SNL grind is not for everyone, so instead of looking for people that will walk in and be overnight successes, I think they need to try and cast professionals who can really hold up to the stresses of producing a live, weekly sketch show.
I have faith in Lorne Michaels. The man is moving The Tonight Show back to NY and producing it, while continuing to produce Late Night. He’s got a pulse on what makes people laugh. Shepherding all of NBC’s late night programming in NY, all under the same roof can only be a good thing.
Stay tuned to Rookerville for continuing coverage of The SNL Exits…