Saturday Night Live is making some big changes: as the show prepares to enter its 42nd season, news has broken that longtime cast members Taran Killam, Jay Pharoah and Jon Rudnitsky won’t be returning. Killam and Pharoah have been on the show for six years, while Rudnitsky, a featured player, made his debut last fall.
Killam’s departure comes as a surprise, since he technically still had one year left on his contract. “I had sort of had it in my head I would make this upcoming year my last year,” Killam told UPROXX this morning, “but then heard they weren’t going to pick up my contract. I was never given a reason why, really.”
Standup Jay Pharoah was an unexpected pick when he was cast as a featured player back in 2010, but after two years of showcasing spot-on impressions of icons like Eddie Murphy and Will Smith, he was bumped up to the main cast; he’s perhaps best known for his take on Barack Obama, a staple that will be sorely missed as this election cycle wraps up.
Rudnitsky, whose Dirty Dancing parody was one of last season’s highlights, came to the show shortly after being featured as a New Face of Comedy at Montreal’s Just for Laughs Festival.
Pharoah, an acclaimed touring standup, will appear in the upcoming Best Man Wedding. Killam is currently wrapping production on his directorial debut, We’re Killing Gunther, an action film starring Arnold Schwartzenegger, Bobby Moynihan, Cobie Smulders, Kumail Nanjiani, Randall Park, and Ryan Gaul.