It’s always exciting when Saturday Night Live announces new additions to the cast and writers team, and with the SNL season premiere only days away, comedy fans have been awaiting news. After all, Season 42 saw the exit of long timers Bobby Moynihan, and Vanessa Bayer as well as Sasheer Zamata, so it was assumed there would be some new additions to fill out those spots.
Three new cast members who will join the show which just won the Emmy for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series include one rising stand up talent, plus all three have strong sketch backgrounds.
We first saw Chris Redd perform at Second City Chicago’s Breakout Comedy Festival a few years ago, and his career has just kept climbing. Chris Redd has been making a big name for himself in Chicago, as one of the city’s rising stand up stars; he debuted his first special as part of Comedy Central’s Half Hour series earlier this month, and was named one of the Just for Laughs New Faces in Montreal this year. As an actor, he received critical love for his scene-stealing performance as Hunter the Hungry in the Lonely Island movie Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. Redd also has sketch skills- he has a background at two of Chicago’s famed theaters- Second City and iO. The Laugh Factory in Chicago listed Redd’s burgeoning career among their proudest moments of 2016 in our annual year-end Clubs Speaks article too! We’re excited to see Redd find his way to SNL— just about a year ago, right before SNL announced their new cast members for their 2016-17 season, it was leaked that Redd was joining the cast, but unfortunately that turned out to be a false rumor. This time the news is legit. Congratulations Chris!
Also joining the cast are Heidi Gardner and Luke Null who both hail from sketch and improv backgrounds. Heidi got her start in Los Angeles with the Groundlings, and was selected as one of Just For Laughs “Characters” New Faces this year. You have heard her voice if you’re a fan of Crackle’s animated series SuperMansion, or may have seen her on TV Land’s Nobodies. You’ll see her in Melissa McCarthy’s Life of the Party as well. Null comes from Chicago’s famed iO and Annoyance theaters, and is known for his musical comedy talents. We’re looking forward to learning more about Null now that he’ll be a fixture in the New York scene.
Some very familiar and very funny friends are joining the writing staff at SNL this year, like Nimesh Patel, Gary Richardson, Claire Friedman, Sam Jay, Erik Marino, Andrew Dismukes, and Steven Castillo. We featured Nimesh Patel in our Up Next series earlier this year. He’s killing on stages all over New York City, and he’s an outstanding writer and performer, so we’re hoping SNL will consider moving him in front of the camera once they get to know him better. He also wrote for the Oscars in 2016, was picked by Kevin Hart to create a show for Hart’s LOL network, and runs one of New York’s hottest comedy shows at Bar Matchless (along with SNL‘s Michael Che). Sam Jay is another name you’ve been hearing a lot about this year (who we’d also like to see get some face time on the show). Boston comedy fans have known and loved Sam Jay for years, but the rest of the country is just starting to get to know how phenomenal she is. She was picked to be part of this year’s crop of Just for Laughs New Faces, and then she crushed it at the New Faces showcase becoming one of the most talked about performers of the festival. She just recorded her debut album at The Stand Comedy Club in New York City, and there’s no question that this is just the beginning of all the good things coming down the road for Jay. Pay attention.
Two of the staff’s seven new writers learned their craft in Chicago– Gary Richardson is an alum of both the iO and Annoyance theaters. We saw him perform at Second City’s 2015 Breakout Festival as part of the sketch group 3Peat and they were one of the stand out acts of the night. Steven Castillo also took classes at iO before heading out to the West Coast.
Congratulations to all of the new writers and cast members. Saturday Night Live returns for Season 43 this Saturday Night.