Fall TV Preview

Saturday Night Live Adds Three Second City Vets

Looking to offset the departures of Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg, Abby Elliott and possibly also Jason Sudeikis, NBC’s Saturday Night Live has dipped three times into its Second City farm system.

With less than a week now until the long-running sketch series’ Season 38 premiere (to be hosted by Seth MacFarlane), SNL has added Aidy Bryant, Tim Robinson and Cecily Strong to its ranks.

RELATED | Saturday Night Live‘s 10 Best Sketches from Season 37

Bryant (photo, far left) until late last month was a cast member of the Second City e.t.c. revue based out of Chicago, and she also has appeared in the iO (Improv Olympics) and Annoyance comedy troupes.

Robinson also counts Second City and iO among his credits, and last year was named as one of “30 Comedians Under 30 to Watch.”

Strong has performed as a member of the Second City National Touring Company and has studied at the iO Theater.

As mentioned, MacFarlane makes his debut as host next Saturday night with musical guest Frank Ocean. Other confirmed SNL emcees include Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Sept. 22, alongside musical guest Mumford & Sons), and James Bond himself, Daniel Craig (October 6, with musical guest Muse).

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  1. noa says:

    i got to see Tim Robinson perform at Second City last year and he was hilarious! i also talked to him afterwards and he was really nice. i hope he does well on the show. very cool!

  2. Glad to see Lorne Michaels reign of no women of african descent continues!

    • topoopon says:

      I thought the same. Jessica Williams on the Daily Show is funny, charming, and adorable… Lorne, ask Jon Stewart how to cast.

    • nicole says:

      It really doesn’t matter.

    • Alan says:

      its about finding funny people, ethnic diversity would be a bonus but it would be ridiculous to bring in someone who isnt funny just to fill some quota

      • erin says:

        Do you really not think there are funny non-white people? I can’t imagine that these three (while I’m sure they’re great) are the three funniest human beings on the planet willing to be on SNL.

        • Alan says:

          im not saying there are no funny non-whites, dont put words into my mouth. what i said was that its about hiring the best people for the job and the people in charge have decided that these people are the best that applied for the job. would you rather watch a show that fills all these so-called quotas which isnt funny or a show which hired the best people for the job who may not fill those quotas

      • Strepsi says:

        But here’s the thing — by and large, the Second City shows and tours ARE deliberately ethnically and gender diverse. Go to Chicago or Toronto and you WILL see brown and black women being hilarious. The fact that they still don;t have a black woman is getting ridiculous.

  3. inginet124 says:

    Dear SNL will it kill u to add some cast of color??????

  4. Eneko says:

    Do you people know that Nasim Pedrad is Iranian? That there are two black men in the cast and that Fred Armisen is of venezuelan/japanese/german descent?. Is SNL bound to have every color, gender, religion and race represented? Come on, is just a comedy show -even as iconic as it is-, not the UN.

    • Lauren says:

      Amen! I totally agree, I don’t understand why all the other comments are making SNL out to be some white supremacist organization. At the end of the day, all that matters is that the cast members are funny and likable. It doesn’t matter if they are black, white, gay, straight, whatever; it just matters that they are good at what they do. The current cast members are very funny and likable, regardless of their race/religion/gender/etc.

  5. TigerNightmare says:

    What is up with all the affirmative action comments that completely ignore minority cast members past and present? Jay Pharoah is black, isn’t he? I don’t know what Nasim Padrad is, but her name sounds exotic. And to say Lorne Michaels never casts black people forgets about Tim Meadows, Ellen Cleghorne, Tracy Morgan, Garrett Morris, Chris freaking Rock, Maya Rudolph and others. I’d say Eddie Murphy, but Lorne wasn’t working at SNL at that time. And yeah, there’s also Kenan Thompson, but I’ve grown very tired of him as well as Bobby Moyniham and Fred Armisen. I say we complain not about what color cast members are not, but instead celebrate the diverse comedic styles of what each player has to offer.

    • topoopon says:

      Problem is: any minority women need to be played by Kenan in drag, which is not only insulting, but also a little minstrel-y.

    • Strepsi says:

      People ignore them because they are the exceptions that prove the rule: because you just named every non-white cast member and it came to 10, out of a cast of 10 over 37 years, or 370. In other words, 2.7% — the non-white population of the U.S. is 13%.

      And, as noted above, the touring shows for the past 20 years have been ethnically diverse — the fact that is STILL not reflected in the TV show is starting to really stink. Ellen Cleghorne and Danitra Vance were the only 100% black women on the show and that was in Nineteen-freaking-ninety-FIVE. Considering there’s been a black First Lady for four years, the show is failing on this count — go to Second City in Chicago, Toronto. or other improv troupes all over the country and there are many many funny black and brown women.

      • TigerNightmare says:

        The term is exception to the rule. Exceptions to the rule, plural, means there really is no rule, is there? What’s this about ethnically diverse ‘touring’ shows? I have no idea what you’re talking about. And what the hell does Michelle Obama have to do with anything? She’s one of the most respectable figures in American politics and she’s even harder to make fun of than the president, which I’ve only seen done well on Key and Peele. Considering how diverse TV used to be in the past 20 years, I’d say SNL is fairly ahead of the curve.

        Consider the tone of SNL and that of a show like Key and Peele, The Boondocks or Chappelle Show. All of the latter are hilarious, but extremely different from SNL’s history of spoofing politics and current events as well as absurd characters/premises and slapstick. There is definitely room for humor for black culture (and to be fair, there have been sketches like that), but to insist that the show turn into 50/50 black and white would be to betray what the show has always been about. Lorne wants his cast to have universal appeal, not the opposite. And there’s nothing wrong with that and casting a white person is not a crime against any culture unless you happen to hate white people.

  6. I love how the morons over at NY Post had to mention that one of the newcomers is the first plus-sized actress ever cast on the show.
    Thank you for not doing the same thing.

  7. The Mf'n Batman says:

    Her name sounds exotic? Really TigerNightmare? The majority of the people you named are from well in the past of SNL. Pharoah wasn’t more than a bit player until recently. Some people just want a little greater diversity in the cast. The comedy suffers a bit when so many people have the same background, comedy style, and similar culture. No one said don’t hire any Whites just that it would be nice to see more different races. Everything isn’t an attack on the old boys network.

    • TigerNightmare says:

      Yes, really. Nasim Pedrad is far from a name like Mary Smith. She counts. She better, she’s one of the more decent additions to the cast in recent years. And EVERY featured player starts out that way before becoming a repertory player. It’s how SNL works. And I have named people in the past because someone made the outrageous claim that Lorne NEVER casts black people, which is utterly false.

      I remember a black cast member from a few years ago who wasn’t very good. He played a hot dog vendor in Two A-Holes Buying A Christmas Tree. http://www.hulu.com/watch/19272 Who is he? In the original airing, there was a long, long pause before he delivered his line, which is cut out of reruns and that Hulu video. Obviously, the show didn’t work out for him, but he auditioned, he made the cut for Lorne and he was cast over many other comedians who wanted to be on the show. Just look at all these reality competitions and how difficult it appears for the judges to have to choose their favorites over others who are also worthy but must be cut to adhere to the show’s format.

      I was not taking these comments as an attack. Do you think I’m white? I just simply detest when people complain about a show’s lack of diversity when that’s something that should be the least of their concerns (SNL desperately needs some new, talented writers on staff). I imagine in the casting process, they look at what a comedian has to offer and it just makes me think of Triumph The Insult Comic Dog on Last Comic Standing, reducing Dat Phan’s entire routine to, “We get it, your mom talks funny.” I would love an Asian performer to be on SNL, but without any Asians in the writers room, things might come off as either racist or stale and one-dimensional if they try to play off of ethnicity. When they cast anyone, they have to have versatility as well as talent and I can’t even name one Asian comic who does not have a routine about being Asian. I’m sure I’ve enjoyed many of their performances over the years, but I just can’t name them. It’s a tough business.

      To me, complaining about what color people aren’t is just extremely disrespectful to the people who cast the show, the people who make it on the show as well as the minority cast members. What are they, chopped liver? Why is no one celebrating that 2/3 of these new players are women? SNL has been a very strong showcase for female comedians in recent years and that is awesome.

      Do you remember his name yet? It was Finesse Mitchell and he was even promoted to repertory player, but who knows why.

  8. Meat Head says:


  9. DL says:

    Okay, on a topic completely unrelated to all this back and forth on casting choices, does anyone else think Cecily Strong looks a lot like Eliza Coupe? At least in that picture.

  10. George says:

    Anyone remember Ellen Cleghorne? I thought she was great!

  11. Greg says:

    I just wish if Lorne is going to keep only hiring improv actors that he would let them improv every once in a while. Instead he takes away their strengths and makes them conform to only reading off the cue cards and sticking to the script word for word or he threatens to get rid of them. Plus the writing for the show is getting worse every season. It wouldn’t kill Lorne to let them loose for 5 minutes a show and see what they come up with. It would improve the show plus remove the bad writers from the equation and they might even mess up and start laughing which I always find the funniest.

    • noa says:

      second city is mostly sketch actually. the shows there are 2 acts of sketch comedy and then a little improv. they do create the sketches with improvising and then re-improvising.

  12. A says:

    Can’t wait for In Living Color to come back with actual funny people even of ethnicity!

  13. juliea says:

    Given that the country is racially diverse, is it asking too much that SNL have a cast that is reflective of the 21st century and not the 1950s

    • TigerNightmare says:

      If it was actually reflective of the 1950s, Nasim definitely wouldn’t be there and there would only be white Christian men in the cast. Get real.

      • juliea says:

        you get real-tigernightmare-the bottom line is that every year SNL hires mostly white males and some white females. And quite frankly, I am not sure I understand your reference to Nasim-I guess you mean that she is Arab-they too are considered white

        • http://www.minorityrights.org/?lid=2614
          To pretend that Arab-Americans are not a minority is not only ignorant, it’s bloody stupid, lest we not forget about the rampant racism against them in the immediate aftermath 11 years ago that still persists to this day (you might want to read the news).

          Nasim is the first and only Arab-American to ever be a cast member of SNL. She was cast because of those who auditioned, she was better than those they did not cast.

          What pisses me off is that people like you look at the new cast members pictures and all you see is what color they are or aren’t and all you can say is that they suck because they’re not black or whatever you want them to be. It’s a shallow and meaningless observation. The only things that matter is if they’re funny and can perform well in a live setting. If you believe otherwise, it’s reverse-racism.

    • Aron says:

      I know you wrote this a while ago but have you recently checked on it :( it’s over buddy i was looking forward to it too but Mr. Wayans himself said No.

  14. L says:

    If you’re unhappy with the cast then don’t watch the show. I didn’t once think, “Dave Chappell needs to hire more white actors..this is 2007”. I just enjoyed the damn show.

    Also, until we know how many black/brown women are auditioning we really can’t place blame. I know many actresses at iO and SC that love what they do but don’t strive to be on SNL. It’s not like he’s turning down minorities at auditions every year..sheesh. It’s always something..maybe he hasn’t found the right women for the job/he doesn’t see now being the right fit for an African American woman. Maybe pulp culture will make it necessary for him to cast one in the future. Until then, I think the show is great and a man playing a woman is old school funny slapstick comedy which defines SNL. If Taran Killam played a Kardashian or Lindsay Lohan and Abby Elliot never once did I would have never questioned it or been insulted by it. It’s comedy..and last time I checked, SNL doesnt give two f@%&$ about being politically correct. Keep up the good work Lorne, I’m still laughing.

    P.s. – whoever commented about John Stewart, he just now hired a black woman. Do you know how long he has been on the air? And he did it strategically to get viewers and help ratings.

    • juliea says:

      really-dave chappelle-is that the best you can come up with-oh and as for my not watching it-I now have reason to watch SNL since Jay Pharaoh is now playing the president and not that lame fred armisen!

  15. joe says:

    SNL makes me cringe. I stopped watching it after an episode a while back, where it seemed like every awkward, un-funny skit was put out of its misery with mercy laughter; purchased by the act of two men making out…definitely need new writers.
    Couldn’t care less if the cast looked like a plain clothes Klan rally; I’ll watch it if it’s funny.

  16. Nomolos says:

    1. I noticed that people were saying Nasim Pedrad is Iranian. I also believe she is. I unfortunately also noticed that some of the same people are referring to her as an Arab-American. This is false. She is not Arab. Iranians are not Arab. I’m sure whoever said that meant well but just be a little more culturally sensitive next time. Not all Muslim countries are Arab. In fact amongst the largest muslim population countries you have Pakistan, Indonesia and Iran. All of which are not Arab. I’m not Persian, Arab or Muslim, I just wanted to make sure people knew there was a difference between them.

    2. Does anyone know what Cessily Strongs ethnic backround is? Is she “white”, middle eastern, hispanic….? I was just curious.