Full disclosure: I’m a huge Strong fan and was not happy when, back in 2014, the woefully underrated comedienne got booted as Colin Jost’s sparring partner and replaced with newbie cast member Michael Che. Although SNL deserved props for adding via Che some much-needed diversity to the anchor desk (and the show overall), it was perplexing to me that it was Strong who was forced to step down versus the unremarkable Jost.
But I kept an open mind, in part because Strong herself wasn’t the least bit bent out of shape about her ouster. “I don’t see this as me leaving Update, just as me being on Update in a looser, goofier way that is a lot more fun for me and in a way I think I’m better at,” she said at the time. “And now I get to do features with the very funny and wonderful Michael Che! No point in being angry or sad for me for something I’m genuinely happy about! Unless you are just a person who enjoys being angry or sad. Then I guess play on, playa.”
I have no idea if Strong is still happy, but I’m less than. Two-plus seasons into the Jost/Che pairing, I’m declaring the experiment a failure. Jost continues to be a poor man’s Seth Meyers, and Che still seems uncomfortable behind the anchor desk. And both guys’ recent efforts to inject some commentary into the proceedings have lacked the kind of passion needed to justify their existence. Basically, they seem bored. Or maybe I’m just bored.
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Given the craziness happening in the world and the copious Weekend Update material that craziness is generating, SNL needs to have a Seth/Amy- or Seth Meyers/Tina-level A-team in place to do the headlines justice. And while reinstalling Strong wouldn’t necessarily mark a return to those peak Update years, it would certainly bring us closer than we are now.
I feel very uncomfortable advocating for the ouster of one of SNL‘s few minority voices, so my suggestion to Lorne Michaels is to either pair Strong with Che and allow Jost to focus all of his efforts on his other job as an SNL writer (where he’s admittedly doing a bang-up job of late), or have Che and Jost alternate weeks with Strong. In any case, Strong needs to be in the mix again, and preferably before this happens.