With the news that longtime Saturday Night Live cast members Bill Hader and Fred Armisen are leaving the show, the improv world is on high alert for Lorne Michaels' next moves. "If I could get inside his brain, it would be a whole different ballgame for me," says Zach Ward, the managing director of ImprovBoston and the founder of North Carolina's DSI Comedy Theater. What is clear, though, is that SNL is searching for more than just outsized personalities: "They're looking for people who can bring written content to the table," says Ward.
Agreed, says Andrew Alexander, the executive producer and co-owner of The Second City Chicago. Michaels and his writers make pilgrimages to The Second City every year, Alexander tells Rolling Stone, searching for new talent. "And we give them the inside scoop on who's a stronger writer," says Alexander. But Michaels and his team recruit from other troupes, too, including the Upright Citizens Brigade (which Amy Poehler co-founded) and The Groundlings, who introduced the world to Will Ferrell. At this point, just two weeks removed from SNL’s season finale, any short list is bound to be speculative, and neither Ward nor Alexander are keen on making predictions. "Look, they missed Steve Carell," says Alexander. "It's not a perfect science." Still, here are a few names you just might see on stage 8-H this September.