Usually new Saturday Night Live stars come from the pipelines of three major cities: New York, Chicago and LA. Even then, a lot of the talent has been plucked from famous comedy improv schools such as Second City and The Groundlings. But this year, legendary producer Lorne Michaels had to think outside the box to replace the likes of Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, Jason Sudeikis and Seth Meyers (who will be leaving mid-season).
Here are the details of the search, courtesy of Yahoo:
“This was the most public search for talent that I’ve seen,” says one comedy veteran of the hunt, which reached far beyond the Los Angeles-Chicago-New York circuit to such alt-comedy hotbeds as Portland, Ore., and Boston. Adds the insider, “Everyone was talking about it, and everyone was aware of it.” The result: Five new faces will join SNL’s cast this year, the most for a single season since 1995, when Will Ferrell made his debut.
Among the additions are Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney, friends from USC who formed the sketch group Good Neighbor. Bennett stars in AT&T’s “It’s Not Complicated” ad campaign, and the troupe recently shot a Comedy Central pilot produced by Ferrell and Adam McKay. Michaels arranged to get the pair out of that commitment. Their loopy brand of “bro humor” is expected to help SNL — which pulled in $111 million in ad revenue during the 2012-13 season, according to Kantar Media — remain current while filling a void left by Andy Samberg and The Lonely Island.
Also joining the cast are John Milhiser and Noel Wells, both gifted physical comics and talented mimics (Wells does a spot-on Zooey Deschanel) who honed their chops at L.A.’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. And Mike O’Brien, a writer on the show for four seasons, has been upped to featured player.
We’ll see how the new members work out, but it’s safe to say Lorne Michaels & Co. know what they’re doing by now. But in my humble opinion, they should scoop up Peyton Manning when he’s unemployed in a couple of years. Man absolutely dominates every time he’s on the show.