“Saturday Night Live” actors Jay Pharoah and Taran Killam are reportedly leaving the long-running NBC program ahead of the show’s new season, its forty-second.
Mr. Killam and Mr. Pharaoh have both been on the show for six seasons. In the meantime, Pharaoh has appeared in such films as “Ride Along” and “Top Five,” while Killam has been in movies including “12 Years a Slave” and “Ted 2.”
The two were some of the current longest-serving cast members on the show, along with actor Kenan Thompson, who has been on the show since 2003, and Bobby Moynihan, who first appeared in 2008. Vanessa Bayer joined the same year as Killam and Pharaoh, in 2010.
The long-running program “SNL” has many of its own traditions, including that actors on the program usually stay for several years before departing. Darrell Hammond, who joined the program in 1995, stayed on the show for 14 years, the most time of any actor on “SNL,” while other longtime cast members include Seth Meyers and Fred Armisen.
The show's trademark rotating cast also sets it apart from sitcoms or dramas.
Frequent cast changes can be positive for the show, Joe DeLillo writes for The Orange County Register. “When an ‘SNL’ cast member leaves, it just opens the door for another talented sketch/improv performer to show what he or she can do,” he says, pointing to a long list of comedians 'SNL' had introduced to audiences: Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Kristen Wiig, to name only several.
But over the past four decades, many of the show's changes have been affected by changes in the TV business itself – an industry perhaps evolving more than ever before, with the popularity of streaming services and other venues changing even the definition of what it is to watch TV. And “SNL” may be adjusting just like many other shows on traditional broadcast networks.
According to TheWrap, “SNL” creator Lorne Michaels was working with NBC earlier this year to swap out two commercial breaks for sponsored segments, in an effort to boost live viewing numbers.
“Currently, too many people elect to catch each episode’s buzziest clips a few days later on the web, views not directly counted in traditional Nielsen ratings numbers,” Tony Maglio reports for TheWrap.