Beat logo

Fixing Saturday Night Live

The Departure of Four Major Stars Is a Step in the Right Direction for the Long Running Comedy Institution.

By Anthony NastiPublished 2 years ago 3 min read

This past Saturday, Saturday Night Live saw the departure of four long running cast-members: Aidy Bryant, Kyle Mooney, and arguably the show's two biggest names, Pete Davidson and Kate McKinnon.

In previous eras, their tenures would be exceptions to the rule: McKinnon and Bryant did ten years at their show, while Mooney held on for nine years without ever really establishing a firm niche in the cast. Davidson did a slightly more traditional eight years, most of which were spent working part time while his dating life became tabloid fodder.

The lengths of their tenures expose a fundamental problem that has been eating away at the long running comedy institution for some time: staleness. In the remaining cast, there's Cecily Strong who is going on her 11th season, as well as Kenan Thompson who just finished a record breaking 19 seasons.

I have been a loyal SNL viewer since my early teens. I've enjoyed all eras of the show, and am not one of those fair-weather fans who thinks "the show hasn't been funny since _____ left the cast." I think each era has its ups and downs, with cast members who are tremendously talented and some who are simply not cut out for the sketch comedy atmosphere. I realize that comedy is a revolving art, and SNL used to be able to flow with that evolution beautifully. This current era feels like it's lasted nearly twenty years, whereas each previous epoch had a five to six year shelf life.

At its best, SNL had a revolving door of performers every couple of years, keeping it fresh. What did Kate McKinnon accomplish in eleven years that she couldn't have done if she left after seven years? Kenan Thompson has been on the show since 2003; to give context to that, Jimmy Fallon was still in the cast and Will Ferrell had only been gone for a year. Kenan, if you follow his career closely, has yet to really evolve as a performer, yet those who grew up with him think he's a Phil Hartman level GOAT simply based on the length of his tenure.

The result now is a bloated cast where everyone is fighting for airtime, with a higher amount of losers than usual. Newcomers Aristotle Atari and Punkie Johnson barely made more of an impression than background extras, all at the expense of another tired Mrs. Rafferty or What's Up With That sketch. All four departing cast members had been running on fumes at the end of their tenures, recycling much of the same beats and jokes that initially felt fresh and established them as formidable presences.

SNL needs to go back to cast members staying no longer than five-six years, maybe a LITTLE longer if you're in that Hartman / Hader / Ferrell / Poehler rarified quality of utility performer. Someone like Sarah Sherman is who they should put a focus on - she's irreverent, unique and can really take the show in an interesting direction. Aristotle Atari has shown glimpses as well (Angelo and the joke telling robot were among my favorite sketches of the season), but he was so pitifully underused I don't think he'll even be given a second chance next season. It's lost sight of what made it great - it should've stayed a launching pad instead of a permanent career fixture.

A cast featuring Sherman, Atari, James Austin Johnson, Chloe Fineman, Chris Redd, Heidi Gardner, Alex Moffatt, Ego Nwodim, Mikey Day, Bowen Yang, and another African American cast member who's not Kenan and can actually perform without yelling and bugging his eyes in every other sketch and you'd be golden. Better writers and more minority representation would legit help as well. And more Do Not Destroy, please. Jesus, those guys are hilarious.

tv review

About the Creator

Anthony Nasti

Aspiring music journalist, occasional dreamer. Searching for the secret looking for the sound.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.