Saturday Night Live has gone through a major facelift over the last few seasons. SNL mainstays like Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg have recently vacated the show leaving room for new comedic talents to try and rise through the ranks. Lorne Michaels and Co. went on a shopping spree during the off-season, picking up three new cast members and two new writers . SNL is set to premiere on September 15th with Seth McFarlane and musical guest, Frank Ocean.
Meet the new additions to Saturday Night Live!
When it comes to the current improv scene in Chicago, no conversation is complete without a mention of Tim Robinson. Tim, a Detroit native, got his start taking improv classes at Second City Detroit. He then got a role on Second City’s touring company and eventually landed in Chicago where he performed weekly with The Cook County Social Club at iO Chicago and even became a player on Second City’s mainstage (Second City’s mainstage is widely regarded as one of the premier comedy stages in the world whose jaw-dropping list of alumni include Tina Fey, Chris Farley and Bill Murray). Tim also had some on-screen success, he was cast in an failed ABC pilot last year called Friend Me where he starred alongside McLovin. He will be joining SNL as a featured player.
Like Tim Robinson, Neil Casey is a huge player in the improv comedy scene. Casey is an NYC improv staple and is widely regarded as one of the best players in New York. You can see Casey work as a member of the Upright Citizens Brigade theater as a writer, director and performer. Neil performs as a member of the bi-coastal UCB house team, Death By Roo Roo and as one of the hosts of UCB’s signature show, ASSSSCAT 3000. You might recognize Neil from The Whitest Kids U’Know and promos for ESPN and Comedy Central. He has also been featured on Collegehumor, FunnyOrDie and was a contributing writer to the Comedy Central’s sitcom, Big Lake (A show that starred IFC’s “adopted comic”, Chris Gethard). Neil will be joining SNL’s writing staff as sketch writer.
Aidy Bryant is an accomplished comedic performer coming out of Chicago who is known for her interesting character choices and strong comedic skill. Aidy should fit in well at SNL and I wouldn’t be surprised if writers begin to play with Bryant’s comedic range as the season moves on. Bryant’s arrival also marks the first time a plus-sized actress will grace the SNL stage. Like Robinson, Aidy proved her SNL worth by becoming a mainstay in the Chicago improv scene. She was a member of sketch and improv groups at iO Chicago, The Annoyance Theater and Second City’s ETC stage. Bryant will join the cast as a featured player.
UCB’s second contribution to SNL this off-season is writer and performer, Josh Patten. Josh was a graduate of the Washington Improv Theater before moving to NYC where he took classes at UCB’s theater. Josh currently is a member of the UCB house team, Grandma’s ashes and has one of the funniest twitter accounts I have ever seen. Josh will join the SNL crew as a writer for Weekend Update.
(Check out Josh at the 2:02 mark)
Strong was the last new hire for SNL. Like Robinson and Bryant, Strong is a product of the Chicago improv machine. She was a member of Second City’s touring company, a writer for The Second City Network on Youtube and an understudy for two mainstage teams at The Second City. Strong is was also a member of the iO Chicago theater where she was on the house team, Virgin Daiquiri with fellow SNL newcomer, Aidy Bryant. Cecily will join the SNL cast as a featured player.
(Cecily comes in at the 1:20 mark)
Eitan Levine is a New York City based comic. Follow him on Twitter at @Eitanthegoalie .