“SNL” New cast member reaction

Story posted September 24, 2022 in CommRadio, Arts & Entertainment by Sophia D'Ovidio

“Saturday Night Live” has finally announced its new cast members for the upcoming Season 48, and spoiler alert, it’s not Jake Novak.

Before the Season 47 finale, it was made public that Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Kyle Mooney and Pete Davidson would not be returning as cast members in the next season. 

Then in August, three more cast members, Melissa Villasenor, Alex Moffat and newcomer Aristotle Athari would also not come back.

This level of cast turnover hasn’t been seen since 2012-13, when Andy Samberg and Kristen Wiig left at the end of Season 37, and Jason Sudekis, Bill Hader and Fred Armisen followed at the end of Season 38.

Due to this change in the sketch show’s roster, it is believed that “SNL” is finally entering a new era, which the series desperately needs.

The new casting announcement is incredibly intriguing and gives an exciting insight into what the future of “SNL” holds.

The four new cast members are Marcello Hernandez, Molly Kearney, Michael Longfellow and Devon Walker.

Hernandez is likely the most recognizable name on this list. He has over 300,000 followers on TikTok, runs the comedy news site, “Only in Dade,” which has almost 1 million followers, and has also opened stand-up shows for Tim Dillon.

It was largely speculated that “SNL” would pull from TikTok or other content creators to bring in a younger audience, something the show has been struggling to do. It seems that Hernandez will be filling that role.

Kearney has already made history as a cast member, as the comic will be the first nonbinary cast member.

Along with currently having parts in the reboots of “A League of Their Own” and “The Mighty Ducks,” Kearney is also a well-established stand-up.

Kearney’s stand-ups are known for their big personalities and already seem to have a connection to Sarah Sherman, who joined “SNL” last year.

The two likely have a similar sense of humor because Kearney was an opener for Sherman. It will be interesting to see how the two work together this year.

Longfellow is another stand-up comic who has performed on former “SNL” head writer Conan O’Brians stand-up show “Conan, Laugh After Dark.” More recently, Longfellow was part of the “Netflix Is a Joke: The Festival” and performed in the “Introducing…” show.

Finally, Walker (not the football player) is another comedian known for his stand-up. He was one of Vulture's “Comedians You Should and Will Know in 2022.”

Walker also has impressive writing credits on shows like “Everything’s Trash” and “Big Mouth.”

To cast four established stand-ups simultaneously was definitely a calculated decision.

“SNL” casts are made up of comedians, typically from stand-up or improv.

Comedians from the improv world have dominated these past few eras at “SNL.” The last two head writers at “SNL,” Tina Fey and Seth Meyers, got their start doing improv.

This recent hiring is the most stand-up heavy since 1989-90, when David Spade, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider and Adam Sandler joined.

The two remaining new cast members from Season 47 come from the stand-up world, so it's clear that producers at “SNL” are stacking their cast with stand-ups for a reason.

That exact reason will be up for debate, but the “SNL” producers are clearly trying to shake things up.

In this most recent era, seemingly since the 2016 election, “SNL” hasn’t been able to grasp the younger generation as it has in the past. This grab at stand-up-based comics may be an attempt to attract that demographic.  

There could be many reasons why Gen Z doesn’t tune into “SNL” as much as older generations did at their age that are out of the sketch show's control, like the fact that it airs live on a network at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday nights.

Still, “SNL” isn’t entirely in the clear. The show has connected with the youth in some capacity, but it’s typically due to the host or musical guest.

Most of the cast of “SNL” is still Millenials with a different sense of humor than Gen Z. It’s hard to attract a younger generation when so much of the cast isn’t a part of it.

Since this recent hiring, getting younger comics on the show didn’t even seem like a priority. Davidson just left after eight years on the show; he was still the second youngest in the cast, with only Andrew Dismukes being younger at 26.

Most jokes that pertain to the younger generations have Gen Z being the butt of the joke, which is fine but maybe not the best strategy to get that age group to keep watching.

Hernandez is 25, likely making him the youngest in the cast. His social media following probably means he understands Gen Z’s sense of humor.

He brings an impressive ability to the cast that his fellow rookies may not.

“SNL’s” best success in recent years of connecting with younger viewers has been with the “Please Don’t Destroy” videos.

“Please Don’t Destroy” sketches draw an obvious comparison to “The Lonely Island: Digital Shorts” despite not reaching the same level of popularity. However, these sketches are still more viewed than others on “SNL’s” YouTube.

The “Please Don’t Destroy” humor is quick and nonsensical; being able to utilize these writers and Hernandez together might be precisely what “SNL” needs.

This new casting announcement is still exciting, “SNL” doesn’t seem to want to recast the members they’re losing and is trying to head in a new direction.

However, with the same head writers, Colin Jost and Michael Che, it seems clear that season 48 will likely be a transition season, seeing what and who works before heading into a new era.

With speculation surrounding Lorne Michaels leaving his role by season 50 and who his predecessor could even be, this transition period may be more critical for the show than ever.

“Saturday Night Live” will return to NBC with a new cast on October 1st; the host and musical guest are still to be announced.

Sophia D’Ovidio is a second-year majoring in communications. To contact her, email sgd5184@psu.edu.