With Seth Meyers slated to leave Saturday Night Live (to take over as the host of Late Night) in February, a shake-up at “Weekend Update” was all but inevitable. And now a clearer picture of its future is beginning to take shape. Cecily Strong, a breakout featured player during her first season with SNL in 2012-2013, will join Meyers as co-host of the faux news program for the comedy show’s upcoming season.
Strong, 29, earned plaudits throughout her rookie season thanks to recurring characters like the “Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party” and an unnamed ex-porn star who now sells luxury brand goods in incoherent infomercials. SNL creator and executive producer Lorne Michaels offered high praise for Strong in an interview with the New York Times‘ Bill Carter: “Cecily, from the first show, was right there… She exploded.”
The Oak Park, Ill. native was a performer for fabled stand-up comedy troupe Second City in Chicago and earned a BFA in Theatre from the California Institute of the Arts before joining SNL last September.
Now she may take over one of most prominent franchises that SNL has to offer. The list of “Update” alumni is a veritable comedy Who’s Who: Meyers, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey (who will host the 2013-2014 season premiere on Sept. 28), Jimmy Fallon (who currently helms Late Night but will take over as Tonight Show host in February), Colin Quinn, Norm MacDonald, Kevin Nealon and Dennis Miller have hosted since the segment was reconceived in its current form in 1985. Though Strong isn’t assured a solo role behind the desk when Meyers departs, being named co-host is a clear indication from Michaels that the second-year cast member is the front-runner.
Michaels, however, still appears committed to the hope that Meyers will stay on as co-host of “Weekend Update” through the end of this season, even after he assumes his hosting duties at Late Night on Feb 24. Michaels is also the executive producer of Late Night, which, like SNL, airs on NBC. Meyers will also be relinquishing his duties as head writer, and will be replaced by Colin Jost and Rob Klein.
Regardless of whether Meyers remains through the end of SNL‘s 39th season, it’s sure to be one of great change for the long-running variety program. Long-time cast members Bill Hader, Jason Sudeikis and Fred Armisen all departed at the end of last season and will be replaced by a host of newcomers, including Beck Bennett (of the AT&T classroom commercials fame), Kyle Mooney, John Milhiser, Brooks Wheelan and Noel Wells. But the selection of Strong—who, along with Kate McKinnon and Taran Killiam, was one of last season’s most promising performers—to helm the “Weekend Update” desk is a clear indication that Saturday Night Live is committed to putting its best foot forward as it enters a new era.