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SNL Season 42 Fired

SNL Vets Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah Not Returning for Season 42

Saturday Night Live will be down two veteran cast members when it returns with Season 42 this fall.

TVLine has learned exclusively that Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah are leaving NBC’s late-night institution and will pursue other opportunities. Both had been with the show for six seasons.

An NBC spokesperson confirmed the departures.

Killam will likely be best remembered for his impersonations of Matthew McConaughey, Marco Rubio and Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy. Pharoah, meanwhile, famously channeled the likes of Jay-Z, Will Smith, President Obama and GOP presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson.

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SNL overlord Lorne Michaels has, of course, weathered his fair share of cast changes over the series’ four-decade run. The exec producer is expected to introduce several new cast members before the launch of the new season next month.

Thoughts on the loss of Killam and Pharoah? Which of their respective impersonations will you miss the most? Hit the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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59 Comments
  1. Oh boy, more screen time for Beck Bennett said absolutely no one.

    • maggie says:

      Bennett is still better than Kyle Mooney. I can’t believe Mooney is still on the show, as he isn’t funny.

      • You_can't_be_serious says:

        Did you ever stop to think that maybe you simply don’t understand Mooney’s style of humor? Think back to some of those moments when you thought he wasn’t funny… For instance, I’ll bet that you don’t like his self-depricating stand-up comic character that has appeared on Weekend update a number of times. Do you understand that character and what he’s referencing? Or is that just Mooney, not referencing things that you identify with or understand? What about earlier in his SNL days when he and Bennett played the Frat party guys who had the incredibly complex drinking game? If you didn’t like that, then i would expect it’s because you don’t get irony, and absurdity, and just want the repeating, easy-to-understand imitations of famous people who you know and recognize, delivered in predictable easy-to-swallow portions. I assert that Mooney and Bennett are over your head!

        • amen_bro says:

          preach

        • Tai says:

          Or maybe… They’re just not that funny. Humor is subjective. I can see why some people find them amusing but I don’t. I find them, mostly Moony, to be pretentious and just irritating. Theyre not doing anything revolutionary or game changing. They’re not above anyone. They’re just two pretentious and not funny guys.

  2. Time for change says:

    Will miss Killam, but what SNL NEEDS is new writers. It hasn’t been consistently funny in years!!

  3. Steven says:

    Taran was one of their most reliable male cast members. I’m really disappointed. Yet Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney haven’t been fired. Ridiculous

  4. datdudemurphy says:

    Pharaoh is great….he was wasted on SNL.
    Hopefully he finds a new gig quick.

  5. William G. Jochimsen says:

    They will not be missed.

    • Ryan says:

      Uh, speak for yourself. If this means more screen time for Kyle Mooney I may for the first time in history actually tune out of the show. That guy is the actual worst.

  6. iHeart says:

    so who is going to play Obama because don’t forget when the show returns there’s like, a couple more months of Obama’s term to go. Then again the average amount of time that a player is on SNL is about seven season (and those two were going to enter their seventh year had they stayed)

  7. J.B. says:

    Taran Killam isn’t leaving; he was let go. He had another year on his contract but NBC/SNL decided not to bring him back.

  8. Ruth says:

    Why quit now? Not enough money thrown their way? I guess I will never understand why someone would walk away from a successful show. I hope they do have other things lined up, because they are too young and talented to not do anything.

  9. Steven Mascaro says:

    I’ll miss them both. I hope both men have great careers after leaving SNL. Both guys were perfect at what they could do. Jay Pharoah’s Obama was spot-on. And I loved all of Taran Killian’s impressions. Since I know both guys are greatly talented, I’m not worried their futures.
    Good Luck.
    And all of my LOVE to the very talented women on SNL. A special hug to Ms. Jones. She is the best.

    • Golan Klinger says:

      She sure is. I hope we see more skits including Jones because she’s one of the funniest and most lovable players the show has had in years.

      • tjchurch2001 says:

        “She sure is…” one o the worst & least-funny actresses ever, which is why she played herself in multiple skits straight in one episode.

        Here’s betting they’re bringing her down to Rio hoping she gets Zika, or at least catches something that makes her funny/watchable.

        • Golan Klinger says:

          To each their own. I think she’s hilarious and has great energy. I would be quite pleased to see her in more skits.

          • tjchurch2001 says:

            Seeing her on “Match Game”, in “Ghostbusters” clips, etc., it is clear she has great energy.

            I only wish she were using it in a job she belonged in.

  10. TJ. Church says:

    I would miss Taran, except I likely won;t watch now that I know he won’t be on it… I saw him first on Nick Cannon’s MTV show, & even more on “How I Met Your Mother” (likely due to his wife being in the cast of that one.)

    As for Jay, I could’ve sworn he was let go at least once before… Probably brought back to replace Fred playing Obama…. But then Rock/Dwayne would show up, raise his eyebrow, & get a bigger reaction than all of Jay’s work had gotten up until that second.

  11. Cori says:

    My heart breaks a little reading that Taran is leaving. :(

    • misery chick says:

      Me too-top sketch for me was Brad Pitt in that silly commercial for cologne. Taran NAILED BP perfectly while adding a thin layer of condescending stupidity.

      Le sigh…

  12. ninergrl6 says:

    Sad. I like both of them.

  13. Jill says:

    Half way through this past season, I noticed Taran was in sketches less & less. If SNL isn’t going to utilize him, or Jay for that matter, better to let them pursue better things. I want Mooney OUT he is terrible. And I suspect Leslie & Kate will be gone sooner than later. Both, I bet have offers coming in left & right

  14. Kevin K says:

    Very shocked about the news that both Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah are leaving SNL after these guys have been on the show since Season 36. Hate to wonder if Kyle Mooney is staying on SNL this upcoming season. BTW, with Pharoah out they better cast another black comedian soon.

    • tjchurch2001 says:

      That needed hire basically goes without saying… Kenan has stated in on-camera interviews he auditioned many years prior to being cast, but neither he nor Jay were even considered before Tim Meadows & Tracy Morgan had departed.

  15. Lovely says:

    If they had decided to leave on their own instead what seems like SNL letting them go, I wouldn’t be so sad. Gonna miss the both of them especially Taran. I wonder if anyone else is leaving or whatever

  16. Joey Padron says:

    Sad both won’t be on the show anymore. Sure they both will find new gigs soon. They’re funny and talented guys.

  17. Kris says:

    How could these two get the boot instead of Beck Bennet and Kyle Mooney?? Taking out two of the best on the show, but keeping two of the worst? Very frustrating, especially regarding Killam! When Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones leave, I’m done with SNL!

  18. jimmy says:

    WOW. These are their two best male cast members. Taran was my favorite. I cannot wrap my head around why they would choose to let him go.

    It’s also surprising they would go into this new season without their Trump and Obama!

  19. Yep! says:

    Bummer, I am sad they won’t be on SNL, they were both really great performers who could pull off very diverse characters, especially Taran Killam. The “Hobbit/Office” sketch with TK playing Gollum/Dwight will forever be my favorite bit.

  20. Kim O'Connor says:

    I so love them both — but especially Jay Pharoah. He seems irreplaceable for the impressions he can do.

  21. C.C. says:

    Should’ve ousted the unfunny and too preachy Weekend Update pairing of Colin and the dead-in-the-eyes guy while they were at it.

    And Taran was leagues above the rest of his male castmates.

  22. ToyCannon says:

    Jebidiah Atkinson was my favorite recurring Weekend Update character. Too bad he was underused for the likes of neighbor Willie. Will miss you Taran.

  23. Smedley says:

    I think this is a good move. Too bad they didn’t get rid of Mooney too.

  24. BillyBobJohnson says:

    Mooney, Che, and especially Jost, should be the ones leaving. Guess Killam and Pharoah wanted to get off the sinking ship while they still have careers. I’m sure whomever Michaels picks to replace them will be just as entertaining. I would imagine this opens up Jones for promotion to regular cast member.

    • BillyBobJohnson says:

      Correction now that I read the other story with Killam. Lorne Michaels fired them for some odd reason. I guess he feels Mooney and Bennett are better performers (Pffft). He’s always been a little off when it comes to hanging on to less talented people like Mooney, Bennett, Jost and Che. He also hires way too many Harvard “comedy” writers.

    • TJ. Church says:

      Promoting Leslie would be a bigger mistake than letting either of these go. Proof?

      1] Appearing on “Match Game”, Alec asked her if she enjoyed “Ghostbusters” or “SNL” more, & she replied the real (not answered yet) question was which enjoyed her more.

      2] The episode with Peter Dinklage, she did three straight pieces (monologue included) where she played herself.

      Here’s hoping they only got rid of Jay, & announce on the season premiere they got rid of Leslie playing Taran.

  25. Meow says:

    Yet Kenan remains…

    • tjchurch2001 says:

      As he should. I don’t see that many people becoming newly-famous he can play, but this is yet another instance of them losing funny cast members, which means he should stay as long as this continues.

  26. Gary Costa says:

    I never found Taran or Jay very funny. In fact, I usually fast-forwarded any time Pharoah was on. The only character of KIllam’s I found funny was the Jebidiah Atkinson entertainment reviewer on Weekend Update. Now if they’s only fire Micheal Che. Hes the WORST Update anchor ever!

  27. Dude says:

    Ugh. I’m gonna miss Jebidiah Atkinson.

  28. Greg says:

    Surprised they didn’t mention that John Rudnitsky was also fired. But he was only on for one season and I can only recall seeing him a few times. Don’t really care that these 3 are leaving. As long as Kate McKinnon, Kenan Thompson, Cecily Strong, Leslie Jones, and Bobby Moynihan are still around I’m fine. I think that Sasheer Zamata, Kyle Mooney, and Beck Bennett should also leave.

  29. tony says:

    Get rid of Taran, and yet they keep Vanessa Bayer?? Her wide eyed, toothy grin is not acting or performing. Yet she is treated as if she is gold, included in so many sketches. She is the worst of the worst. Miley Cyrus was the only thing she did okay, and barely.

    Jay Pharaoh is very talented impression wise, but I could see this one coming more, probably due to their own underuse of him.

  30. LadyB says:

    I’m really going to miss Jay Pharoah. He was a great addition to any sketch. At least I’ll always have the memory of him singing Adele’s “Hello” from the “Thanksgiving Miracle” (among others). Brilliant.

  31. Frankly, most of the cast sucks badly. The only ones that seem to be Kate McKinnon (who will be gone once a good opportunity shows up). Leslie Jones (nearly ditto, but probably will be around for a couple more years), Kenan, who seems to survive even while his range is suspect. Cicely is OK, but stuck as typecast as a droll personality.
    Everybody else could be let go, but then again, they might have a better chance if they fired all the writers and brought in a fresh slate. Many of the shows just weren’t that funny, and that also hurts the cast. Though somebody like Kate can overcome bad writing with some superior skills. For example, last season’s Afterlife skit really wasn’t funny, but Kate’s oddball, redneckish, country bumpkin role was the only good part about it. She sold the role in a terrible skit.

  32. Lika says:

    I think this is a mistake since Taran seems to be the most technically proficient, consistently reliable performer. Like everyone says, the writing is the problem…so while Lorne (WHO MUST RECOGNIZE THIS ON SOME LEVEL…I MEAN HE IS A TV LEGEND)is figuring this out…keep your solid and consistent performers that can work with anything. As much love as I have for Kenan Thompson and Jason Sudeikis…they both played this role well for SNL. Same goes for the reliability of currently popular and diverse impressions. These are a great go to in a rebuilding year when you might need an ace in up your sleeve. Pharoah was already embarrasingly underused…so why not let them both finish out the last year of their contracts in a mutually beneficial way. The other notion that comes to mind is the possibility that Lorne knows he will be losing his female MVPs soon (whoever you think that is, they are all approaching decision day in the next season or so)…so maybe he is trying to mine fresh male talent (since i don’t think Taran or Jay would renew another 7 year contract…Taran’s wife’s career is opening up way too many doors for a solid Director’s career launch and funny Black guy movies/sitcoms are making a SERIOUS comeback) before he gets the rug pulled out from under him. So strategy? Jebediah though…and Shaq/Charles/Che pairing. I must also say that there will likely never be 3 Black men and a Black woman who can write for Black men in the writer’s room at the same time again. There was a unique window where, despite other challenges with the writing, the realism of SNL’s more urban content was within grasp of viewers from more diverse demographics. That window is closing again soon and is definitely reflected in part by the loss of a player who does spot on impressions of currently relevant celebrities and personalities of color.