Saturday Night Live is continuing to experiment with format and casting for its upcoming 40th season. According to The New York Times, Michael Che – who worked on the sketch series last season as a writer – will be moving to the “Weekend Update” desk, replacing Cecily Strong, who will now shift back to the regular cast.
Che, 31, broke out as a stand-up comedian in New York before landing major exposure as a correspondent on Comedy Central’s comic-launching The Daily Show. He will become the first black “Update” anchor on SNL.
The historic tweak also makes sense on a creative level, as longtime executive producer/series creator Lorne Michaels referenced Seth Meyers in an interview to the The New York Times. “It struggled to find an identity last season,” he said. “Because what had come before had been pretty brilliant.”
Michaels reportedly tried out “a number of different combinations” for “Update” in recent weeks. Part of the decision came down to the chemistry between Che and current head writer/”Update” anchor Colin Jost, who replaced Meyers in the middle of the previous season when he left to take over Late Night.
“Michael is a strong writer, and he’s really funny,” Michaels said. “It’s always difficult to make changes and make ‘Update’ different from what’s gone before.”
SNL Season 40 will feature a number of casting shake-ups: Previous featured players Noël Wells and John Milhiser and cast member Brooks Wheelan were dismissed from the show earlier this summer, and five-season veteran Nasim Pedrad left to co-star on the new Fox series Mulaney.