On the eve of Saturday Night Live’s 47th season finale, it was announced that veteran cast members Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Pete Davidson, and Kyle Mooney would be exiting the legendary sketch show. Deadline reported that the three 2012 members will be leaving, confirmed by Davidson, who joined in 2014, in an Instagram post before the episode aired.
The season finale, hosted by Russian Doll star Natasha Lyonne with musical guest Japanese Breakfast, honored the cast members. With the exception of Mooney, every member had a significant farewell. McKinnon reprises her role as Ms. Rafferty in the “Close Encounter”-style skits before finally agreeing to leave Earth with the aliens that abducted her. Davidson signed off with a rap tribute to Lorne Michaels (as Lorne Michaels) and appeared on Weekend Update for the last time. Bryant concluded her segment with cast member Bowen Yang as the Trend Forecasters.
It’s been long rumored to be McKinnon’s and Davidson’s last season, as they have been involved in more projects outside of Saturday Night Live. It was especially clear in Davidson’s case, who was rarely featured this year.
In the past, SNL has refrained from ceremoniously signing off its members but the sketch show recently changed its stance. During Kristen Wiig’s 2012 departure, she was serenaded by the cast and musical guest The Rolling Stones. Though the 2022 alumni didn’t get the same treatment, these huge departures deserved some love.
The remaining members from 2012 (or earlier) are Michael Che, Colin Jost, Cecily Strong, and Kenan Thompson. Thompson has been on the show since 2003 and holds the record for the longest-serving SNL member in the show’s history.
With four prominent members leaving the cast, there is a void to be filled. The program is pretty secretive about its process so there isn’t any speculation about who could join the cast. Saturday Night Live hopefuls should know that a prestigious comedy show like Saturday Night Live doesn’t simply hold an open casting call.
It is important that you get your name out there because recruiters typically seek out comedians they think to suit the show. Joining an improv comedy group or doing stand-up is a good start before auditioning before executive producer Lorne Michaels, who famously doesn’t laugh during the process (with few known exceptions being Jimmy Fallon and Davidson).
In a 2017 interview, McKinnon told People magazine that the audition process is somewhat surreal, comparing Michaels to the “Wizard of Oz.”
“You’ve got five minutes to do whatever you want. So I did, like, five impressions and a couple of characters. I honestly don’t remember all of them. Penélope Cruz was one of them.”
Aspiring comedians should not be intimidated. Many comedians in the show’s history have made successful careers despite getting rejected (some more than once) from auditions. Notable names include Jim Carrey, Donald Glover, Aubrey Plaza, Kevin Hart, Lisa Kudrow, and Steve Carrell. With all the success they’ve had, it turns out they did alright for themselves.