A couple of weeks ago SNL fans were surprised to learn of the ousting (by all accounts, an “ousting” is what it would seem to be) of relatively reliable SNL cast members Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah. For my money, not that you asked, both seemed like surprises to me. Killam less so because while he was a good glue guy, a lot of his characters were starting to run together and he didn’t seem like he was engendering any sort of fandom in the audience, which of course is what Lorne Michaels is always seeking. Pharoah, however, really surprised me — not only because I felt like he was just finally really hitting his stride on SNL, but because he’s a tremendously good impressionist. Like, 0ne of the best on that show in a long time. My two cents — again, not that you asked — is that losing Pharoah is a misstep. But oh well. (Jon Rudnitszky is also gone, but you probably had only barely realized he was there after one year, which is known as the “Brooks Whelan effect”).
At any rate they’re gone, and in their steads were rumored to be “several” new cast members, which is always an exciting prospect. But instead, we got two. Just two. So let’s meet the new featured players, Chris Redd and Mikey Day.
If you’ve seen the Lonely Island’s Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (and, sadly, too few of you did, and it’s a very funny movie) you’ll know Redd, though you might not realize it. Redd played filth-rap personality Hunter the Hungry, sometimes touring partner of Andy Samberg’s Connor 4 Real. And he was very good in the film.
Redd’s a product of Chicago, where he studied with Second City and the iO Theater and has collaborated with Tina Fey. Here’s a full stand-up set from him a couple of months ago — see for yourselves. There’s not much in the way of impressions out there to check out, so it’s hard to tell what Redd brings to the table as of yet. But if the Lonely Island’s vouching that’s a pretty strong plug.
In more awkward situations, former SNL writer Mikey Day is replacing his longtime buddy Taran Killam (in fact, Mikey Day co-wrote Killam’s comedy Brother Nature, which opened to awful reviews on Friday). Day hails from the Groundlings in Los Angeles and is currently (formerly? Is this show even still a thing?) also a cast member on the Maya Rudolph/Martin Short variety comedy Maya & Marty. As it’s also pointed out to me, Day was a performer on Nick Cannon’s Wild n’ Out, for those of you who were partial to that. Anyway, here he is as a particularly not-very-funny Orlando Bloom.
Yikes. Here’s Day in a Maya & Marty sketch that shows him in a little more of a sketch situation, though he doesn’t have a lot to do:
So there you go. Are these two amazing hires? Maybe not on paper, but we’ll have to give them a chance first. If there’s one thing Lorne Michaels is good at, it’s picking talent. Usually.