With news coming today that the first three hosts of the 41st season of SNL would be Miley Cyrus, Amy Schumer and a still-rehabilitating Tracy Morgan, respectively, it’s almost certain that the next few days will also deliver headlines of new cast members joining the 2015-16 season. Just in case Lorne still needs some ideas, however, I’m happy to suggest some possible candidates from the farm leagues who’d make prime candidates for Not-Ready-for-Prime-Time Players in the upcoming years.
Where He Comes From: Second City
Most Recently Seen In: The Second City revues Panic on Cloud 9 and Depraved New World
Why He’s Good: Hartman not only has a prestigious Jeff Award (given for excellence in Chicago Theater) for his writing and performing work, he’s a lauded member of the Chicago sketch and improv scene at Second City, the Improvised Shakespeare Company and as part of the ballyhooed musical improv group Baby Wants Candy.
What Could We Expect? Hartman’s forte is a prickly brand of humorously distant, cerebral comedy; he won’t endear himself to you as much as he’ll engage himself with you. Ask anyone in the Windy City and they’ll tell you Hartman’s been SNL material for some time now, and I would give Hartman a very strong chance of making the show at some point.
Where She Comes From: UCB New York and LA
Most Recently Seen In: Best Week Ever, appearances on Comedy Central’s @Midnight
Why She’s Good: Neuringer is not only a seasoned sketch and improv actor (she performed with the UCB troupe DeCoster, where she was a major draw), she’s also a terrific writer, having contributed jokes to Jimmy Fallon. One look any Neuringer-based YouTube video will also reveal a dozen declarations of affection for her, proving that she’s not only funny and sharp but accessible enough to, I guess, entice YouTube viewers fall in love with her.
What We Could Expect: Neuringer has a Tina Fey/Cecily Strong-esque quality about her and her quick wit and delivery would make her a strong fit in a Weekend Update correspondent/anchor capacity. She also has a lovable, underlying goofiness to back up the package, which makes Neuringer a double threat.
Where He Comes From: iO, formerly the Improv Olympic
Most Recently Seen In: Get Hard, The Sonic Commercials
Why He’s Good: Good? Many people would consider TJ Jagodowski to be one of the best improvisational comedians of all time. He’s so good that when you type his name into YouTube the first several entries are just people asking him questions about improv technique. The first time I ever saw truly good improv comedy (which I’m not the world’s biggest fan of), Jagodowski was part of the troupe and I thought he was one of the sharpest performers I’ve ever seen live. I still do.
What We Could Expect: Let’s be honest; at 43 years old Jagodowski is not likely to join the cast, though I can’t imagine he hasn’t been eyed by SNL in the past. On the current cast Jagodowski would look like a Phil Hartman-style “glue man” but could clearly pull off a multitude of great characters and would balance out a very young-skewing SNL crew, which doesn’t really have an elder statesman right now.
Where She Comes From: Second City
Most Recently Seen In: She’s previously an SNL writer
Why She’s Good: Gossman is an incredibly versatile performer, whether daring out into the audience as a Russian gymnast or threatening her competition as masked luchador. Physical and quick, Gossman puts it all out there and becomes a valuable lifter on any cast she joins.
What We Could Expect: Gossman has written for SNL in the past, so she knows how it works, before branching off to become a writer for the FOX series Raising Hope. She joined SNL with former castmate Mike O’Brien and Tim Robinson (who both themselves shifted down from featured players back to writers) and her character work would be a valuable addition to the solid stuff Kate McKinnon and Bobby Moynihan put out there weekly. I say bring her back to the fold.
Exhibit A (NSFW but fantastic):
Where He Comes From: Second City
Most Recently Seen In: HBO’s Veep, as Jonah Ryan’s earnest assistant Richard Splett
Why He’s Good: Richardson has a good take on all the angles, whether playing Family Matters‘ Reginal Veljohnson as a detective at a particularly gruesome homicide or a racially-charged White Sox fan. If you watch Veep, though, I don’t need to really tell you why he’s good; as an assistant to Jonah this last season, his Richard Splett stole every scene in which he appeared.
What We Could Expect: Every SNL cast needs a do-everything utility guy (Tim Meadows, Kevin Nealon, Darrell Hammond), and Richardson could fill this niche. He’s solid enough to keep a scene grounded but can pull off a character that yanks out the rug. If you’re worried that he’s already got something going on, don’t forget that current cast member Kyle Mooney began on Stephen Merchant’s HBO show Hello Ladies before bailing for the bright lights of SNL. So there’s that.
Where He Comes From: UCB New York
Most Recently Seen In: The popular UCB troupe Grandma’s Ashes
Why He’s Good: Patten provides a level-headedness that can elevate to creative places; in both physicality and coutenance he strikes one as a young Jason Sudekis. As an improviser he brings to the table a good head for narrative and seems comfortable to cede the spotlight when need be, an important quality.
What We Could Expect: As a matter of fact, Josh Patten is currently a writer for Weekend Update, so he’s already plugged into the system. I’m not sure if writing for Update plugs him more in as a candidate for that segment or if we might see him as a cast member, but he’s already part of the proceedings so what could a trial year as a featured player hurt?