Meet ‘Saturday Night Live’s’ New Cast Members: Aidy Bryant, Tom Robinson, and Cecily Strong

Sudeikis ponders his exit strategy.
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If there’s one lesson Saturday Night Live fans have learned over the years, it’s that none of your favorite funny folk are irreplaceable. Sooner or later, everyone moves on, and hungry newbies come in to replace them.

So it is with the 38th season, which kicks off this weekend with three new warm bodies filling the void left by the departures of longtime SNL favorites Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg, and Abby Elliott. NBC has confirmed that the new cast members, all hailing from the world of Chicago improv comedy that has sustained the show since 1975, are Aidy Bryant, Tom Robinson, and Cecily Strong.

Comedy professionals’ website The Comic’s Comic broke the news of Bryant and Robinson’s hiring on Friday and Strong’s hiring on Monday. NBC then confirmed that all three will join the cast as “featured players,” the junior-level cast members who tend to get less sketch time until they prove themselves.

Learn more about the SNL newcomers and watch clips of them in action, below.

SNL has a long history of roly-poly male comics, from John Belushi and Chris Farley to current players Kenan Thompson and Bobby Moynihan, but more than one observer has noted that Bryant will be the show’s first ever plus-sized female star. (Which is sort of a backhanded compliment to Rachel Dratch.) Bryant hails from Phoenix. In Chicago, she worked at Second City (a source of SNL comics since the days of Belushi and Bill Murray) and with such improv groups as Baby Wants Candy and Annoyance, where she performed with current SNL player Vanessa Bayer.

Robinson, who is from Detroit, also worked with Second City, both in Detroit and Chicago. He’s appeared in two TV sitcom pilots: My Mans, which Comedy Central declined to pick up, and Friend Me, with Christopher Mintz-Plasse, which CBS has picked up for mid-season. Since it’s a show about far-flung friends who stay in touch via social networking, it’s possible that Robinson will be able to work on both Friend Me and SNL simultaneously.

Strong is from Oak Park, Illiinois. In addition to Second City, she worked alongside Bryant in the group Virgin Daiquiri at Chicago’s Improv Olympics.

The three newcomers answer the question that has plagued fans all summer since Wiig and Samberg announced their departures at the end of last season. In mid-summer, Elliott announced that she, too, was leaving. Meanwhile, Jason Sudeikis seemed on the fence all summer. He may stick around this season, at least until the election (which will determine whether or not he can spend four more years playing Mitt Romney), or he may already have left; neither NBC nor Sudeikis has said what the comic’s plans are.

Saturday Night Live begins its 38th season on Sept. 15 at 11:30 PM ET. Hosting will be Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane, with musical guest Frank Ocean.