An extensive list of actors who have left Saturday Night Live before (or in this case, during) the current season includes Pete Davidson, Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon, Kyle Mooney, Alex Moffat, Melissa Villasenor, Aristotle Athari, and Chris Redd.
The news that longtime cast member Cecily Strong would be leaving the show broke prior to last night’s episode, the year’s final one. Although Kenan Thompson is still employed there, given the high employee turnover rate, he must eventually be prepared to go (though he is free to do so whenever he likes as long as we get one final “What Up With That”).
Strong received a significant, almost show-wide sendoff Friday night with two segments devoted to her exit. She first appeared in a “Weekend Update” skit in which she portrayed the recurrent role of Cathy Anne and disclosed that she was entering prison (with a joke about how she has friends on the inside who are doing okay, with a photo popping up of hardened prisoner versions of Bryant and McKinnon).
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Later, she made an appearance in a half-sketch that started funny and winky before developing into a cute little musical number: The host, Austin Butler, appeared as “casual Elvis” (because they couldn’t afford a costume) to sing “Blue Christmas” with the majority of the SNL cast as Strong, who was playing a RadioShack employee on her last day, reminisced with her boss about how she had been at… RadioShack… for… 11 years, but only eight were good. This is a funny nod to SNL’s… continued relevance.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Strong’s midseason departure was planned from the beginning of the season. Still, watchers feared something was amiss when she was absent from the season premiere’s opening credits.
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