SNL returns for its 40th season this Saturday, with host Chris Pratt, musical guest Ariana Grande, and pretty much the same cast — minus a handful of people we rarely saw in sketches anyway. Following a lackluster season, Lorne Michaels is now sticking with the tools he's got, replacing five departing cast members with only one newcomer — standup Pete Davidson — and promoting writer Michael Che to co-host Weekend Update. Meanwhile, Colin Jost will remain at the desk after taking on the job last February. It's a conservative approach, compared to last year's throw-everything-against-the-wall casting strategy, which resulted in a cast so overpopulated that some remained literal faces in the crowd at the season's [...]
With SNL's 39th season coming to a close, we're taking a look at the past season with a series of posts examining the highs, lows, and other memorable moments from the past eight months. Here, we look at the performers that make up SNL's current cast, including their overall contributions to the show, memorable roles, relative screen time, and prospects for returning next season.
SNL's 39th season was a crowded one. Record-breaking crowded, even. Six new hires, plus a seventh midseason, rose the total to 17, making the current cast the largest SNL has seen during its entire four-decade run, topping even the infamously bloated 1990-1991 season. That season only had [...]
While we wait for Sasheer Zamata to get more screen time on SNL, here's the first episode of a new web series she's in called "Black Mad Men" written by Key and Peele's Phil Augusta Jackson and directed by Morgan Evans. Along with Jackson, Anthony Appruzzese, and Shaun Diston, Zamata plays a very Peggy-like ad exec in a scene spun off from Don Draper's famous Kodak Carousel or Lucky Strike "It's Toasted" pitches from Mad Men. The only difference on "Black Mad Men" is that Zamata and team are trying to convince their white client that Luke's Hummus is the key to unlocking true racial harmony through its irresistible [...]
This week, Saturday Night Live hired three African-American women to prominent positions: Sasheer Zamata as a cast member and LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones as writers. Zamata is the show's first black female cast member since Maya Rudolph, who departed in 2007, and Tookes and Jones are the show's first black female writers since Vanessa Middleton, who was briefly on the show's staff from 1992 to 1993. It's great to see SNL making more diverse hires, but it's disappointing that producers were shamed into adding the show's first black female writers/performers in years by the recent wave of criticism that came SNL's way for its lack of diversity. Zamata, Tookes, [...]
We reported last week that SNL is currently holding auditions for at least one black female cast member, and so far eleven women have received callbacks for the spot. According to Deadline and the Daily News, the following list of ladies from both the New York and Los Angeles showcases have been asked to do in-studio tests at 30 Rock today: Bresha Webb (whose Instagram shot leaked the audition news last week), Tanisha Long (MTV's Girl Code), Misty Monroe (Groundlings), Gabrielle Dennis (BET's The Game), Erica Ash (Tracy Morgan's pilot Death Pact), Amber Ruffin (Boom Chicago), Leslie Jones (standup), [...]