The “Saturday Night Live” stage will soon have two pairs of big shoes in need of filling.
Word broke Sunday that longtime head writer and “Weekend Update” anchor for “SNL” Seth Meyers was set to leave the show in order to take over for Jimmy Fallon as the host of NBC’s “Late Night.”
About a month ago, Fallon was named the next in line to host “The Tonight Show,” succeeding Jay Leno, whose last episode is set to air during the first week of the 2014 Winter Olympics, which begin Feb. 6. Fallon’s reign is set to begin the following week, leading into the premiere of “Late Night with Seth Meyers.”
Just days after Meyers’ announcement, eight-year cast member Bill Hader announced the current season of “SNL” would be his last. The season ends Saturday. With no time to say goodbye, he’s ducking out, taking so many beloved personalities with him.
At least we can hang on to our favorite “Weekend Update” host a little longer — Meyers has agreed to stick with “SNL” through the fall.
On the bright side, audiences are about to see a whole lot more of Meyers — and who could complain about that? And Hader’s shift could be a good thing too, as he has proven his chops as an actor beyond the Saturday night sketch comedy stage, appearing in movies such as “Superbad” and TV shows such as “30 Rock” and “The Mindy Project.” In fact, Hader is already linked to nearly 10 new projects in film and TV in the next few years.
But on a show that has lost so many important cast members lately — notably Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg — can it survive without Meyers and Hader?
Meyers has been the face of “Weekend Update” since 2008, when Amy Poehler left after the pair co-anchored the weekly comedic news roundup for two years. It’s nearly impossible to imagine another personality behind that desk at this point. Meyers’ dead-on delivery of jokes and contagious laugh when he just can’t contain himself anymore are truly irreplaceable.
My only hope for the sketch is that Meyers’ replacement is eased into the role, with the two co-anchoring for at least some period of time before he goes, a tactic that worked well with Poehler’s departure.
If the role goes to a current cast member, my eye is on third-year cast member Taran Killam. He isn’t really a big personality on the show — and I think that makes him ideal to slide into the anchoring role. The show isn’t losing anything by removing him from the possibility of being a guest on “Weekend Update” because there aren’t many distinct characters he plays that we’d be missing out on.
In his time on the show, Hader has been that type of character. His perhaps most memorable, over-the-top character, New York City club promoter Stefon, has been a staple guest on “Weekend Update” for years, and beloved by fans. Past that, his impressions are remarkable — James Carville, Dateline reporter Keith Morrison and Clint Eastwood to name a few. His bumbling reporter character, Herb Welch, was another fan favorite.
The pair aren’t the only ones who’ve been speculated to be considering jumping ship. Rumors circulate around the fate of Jason Sudeikis, who is in his eighth season of the show, and Fred Armisen, who has the most “SNL” experience, save for Meyers, with 11 seasons under his belt.
With the growing trend of long-time players leaving “SNL,” the show is inevitably falling into the hands of younger comedians. If Sudeikis and Armisen follow Meyers and Hader out the door, the only cast member left with more than five years experience on the show will be Kenan Thompson (who has been on the show for nine years).
The show has honestly gone a bit downhill as of late, and an all-young cast could be the best or worst thing that has happened to it — either a fresh take on “SNL” or an utter train wreck. As long as the show has strong writers to rely on (and it will lose at least one with the departure of Meyers), it might make it after all.