With the departures of venerable veterans Jason Sudeikis, Bill Harder and Fred Armisen — and Seth Meyers following them out the door next year, as he takes over NBC’s Late Night — Saturday Night Live has been on the hunt for new recruits to join its respected ranks.
Now rumor has it the late-night sketch comedy’s leader, Lorne Michaels, has his eye on five top candidates to become the franchise’s newest cast members. Who are these hopefuls who may soon call Studio 8H home? Predictably, almost all are performers from the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, the improv troupe from which SNL traditionally plucks ripe talent.
Let’s take a look at the five frontrunners.
Noël Wells: She’s a young actress who stars in romantic road-trip comedy Forev, her first lead in a feature film. But her steady gig is performing at the Upright Citizens Bridgade Theatre (UCB). She has also starred in a slew of comedy videos — featuring her spot-on celebrity impressions — which she began making “to try and get on the [SNL],” she told Under The Radar.
John Milhiser: This Brooklyn-based, up-and-coming comedian not only has performed with the UCB since 2005, but also belongs to improv teams Holy Moly and Caligula as well a sketch group Serious Lunch, which has been been featured across late night TV by Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon.
Michael Patrick O’Brien: He has spent four seasons writing for SNL, a job he landed after several years sharpening his skills with Chicago’s iO and Second City theater. But to the YouTube-trolling crowd, this face may be most familiar from 7 Minutes in Heaven, a web series where he lures celebrities into his closet for an intimate, albeit awkward, conversation.
Beck Bennett: It’s the AT&T guy! The one who gets children to say just about darnedest, most adorable things in the company’s widely well-liked ‘It’s Not Complicated’ ad campaign. Beyond commercials, he has some scattered IMDB credits, but most of his acting is contained within the world YouTube.
Kyle Mooney: As a kid, he starred in a few national commercials, for the likes of McDonald’s and CarFax. But after he and Bennett met in college, they started the sketch group Good Neighbor, which first gained recognition in 2007 with the viral video “Pregnant Jamie Lynn Speaks Out.” Now, their channel boasts over 170,000 subscribers.
Of course, none of these contenders are sure-things; we must wait on the official casting word from SNL. That will likely come soon, though, as the series returns Sept. 28.