For the first time in “Saturday Night Live’s” 39-season history, two men will anchor the “Weekend Update” desk.
Michael Che in. Cecily Strong out.
“This is about a new era, what feels appropriate for now,” Michaels said. “That’s why we did a lot of combinations and tests, and this is kind of where we came out.”
Strong became part of “Weekend Update” last season when she was paired with Seth Meyers, who was winding down with his final 12 shows before moving to his “Late Night” hosting duties. Colin Jost was brought on as Meyers’ replacement.
“It struggled to find an identity last season,” Michaels said of Strong and Jost’s pairing. “Because what had come before had been pretty brilliant.”
Michaels maintains his confidence in Strong as one of the show’s best players and said the move was at least partly due to her own request to appear in more sketches.
The decision to move Strong comes in the wake of half of last season’s cast receiving the axe over the summer. Brooks Wheelan, Noel Wells and John Milhiser were all fired after each completed a lone season.
Michaels and NBC brass also received flak last year for their lack of diversity, particular in the absence of a black female cast member. The public criticism was heard and in January, Sasheer Zamata joined the show as a featured player.
Che, who becomes “SNL’s” fourth black cast member, is best known to audiences for his short stint as a correspondent on “The Daily Show.” He first appeared on Jon Stewart‘s Comedy Central show in June.
Tune in to the “Saturday Night Live” 40th season premiere on Sept. 27