SNL will have a plethora of new faces when it premieres tonight for its 39th season.
Well it’s a rebuilding year in Studio 8H, in every sense of the word. After the departure of Jason Sudeikis, Bill Hader, and Fred Armisen at the end of the last season, plus the impending move of head writer/Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers over to fill Jimmy Fallon’s shoes at Late Night, there are plenty of spots to be filled with new talent.
Six new cast members have been added and they range from a familiar face to a familiar name.
Perhaps the most well known out of the new cast members, is Beck Bennett. He has been on TVs starring in this AT&T ad campaign (directed by former SNL writer and member of Lonely Island, Jorma Taccone) for quite awhile now. In addition to the “It’s Not Complicated” ads, Bennett is a member of the Good Neighbor comedy group. Bennett is not the only member of Good Neighbor to find themselves with a new job this year. In addition to Kyle Mooney being hired as a cast member, Dave McCary has been brought on board as a director.
The other Good Neighbor member to join the cast, Kyle Mooney has built a name for himself by being such an oddball character. An entire YouTube channel filled with Mooney interviewing people is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon. In addition to his own channel, Mooney has taken his awkward talents to Jimmy Kimmel Live and Parks and Recreation.
Likely more well known to those who follow comedy, John Milhiser is no stranger, to the genre, or to producer Lorne Michaels. In addition to doing sketch comedy with not only UCB, but also Serious Lunch, Milhiser wrote, directed, and stared in the above short for Above Average, Lorne Michael’s YouTube channel.
Noel Wells has also spent time with UCB as well as doing quite a few things with College Humor, but her YouTube channel is likely where most people will recognize her from. Between her team up with fellow YouTuber Hannah Hart (My Drunk Kitchen) to impersonate singers, to her web series, Hey! The Zooey Deschanel Show, they all provide evidence to my belief that while Wells may be joining an already impressive cadre of female cast members, chances are she will still find moments to shine.
In earlier decades of SNL, Lorne Michaels and his team looked to stand up comedians for cast members quite often. This has most certainly not been the case in recent years, instead opting to cull the rosters of UCB, Second City, and Groundlings primarily. This year, Brooks Wheelan is the odd man out, as the first stand up to be hired since Jay Pharoah in 2010. Not having a sketch comedy background for the public to get an impression from, it will be interesting to see how Wheelan is used this season and how well he interacts with fellow cast members.
Mike O’Brien is easily the most recognizable name, if not face, of the new cast members. O’Brien has been a writer at SNL since 2009 and has been spotted in a few sketches, including this past season as the doorman in Justin Timberlake’s “5-Timers Club” initiation monologue. In addition, Mike O’Brien has a rather successful YouTube presence with his “7 Minutes In Heaven” series.
So that’s the new cast members! Of course that is not the only thing changing over at Rockefeller Center. While none of last year’s repertory players were moved up to featured (somewhat surprising when it comes to Kate McKinnon, don’t be surprised if she is moved at the mid-season mark), sadly rookie Tim Robinson has left the cast. He will be staying with the show however, just making the move to the writer’s room.
Perhaps the biggest news of the off season, besides the new cast members, is that Cecily Strong will be joining Seth Meyers at the Weekend Update desk. When it was announced that Meyers was leaving shortly after the new year, names were flying around from anyone and everyone as to who they thought would take over as anchor. Strong might have been seen as a bit of a dark horse given that last year was her first on the show and the fact that the characters she brought to Weekend Update, like Girl at the Party, were so good that it would have been a shame to lose them. However, in the end Strong got the job, which chances are, she’ll do amazingly well at.
The other big news is tonight’s host, the queen herself, Tina Fey. After another entertaining bit at this year’s Emmys, Fey will undoubtedly start this 39th season off with a bang.
Who do you hope to see this season on the SNL stage? A former cast member? Perhaps another inductee to the 5-Timers Club? Let us know down in the comments!