After unceremoniously dropping comedians Jay Pharoah, Taran Killam, and Jon Rudnitsky from their lineup, NBC’s Saturday Night Live has now added three young comics into the rotation for their upcoming 42nd season. While the trio of newcomers to the small-screen improv showcase clearly bring fresh talent to the stage, there’s already been a lot of focus on one in particular: Melissa Villaseñor, the series’ first Latina performer.
Other new additions are Mikey Day, a writer for SNL since 2013, and Alex Moffat, a member of Second City and host of the web series “El Show with Alex Moffat.” But while Villaseñor’s inclusion will go a little further down the road of bringing much-needed diversity to the cast–white performers often impersonate Latina women out of necessity–the lack of a suitable replacement for Pharoah will make his well-known impersonations of President Barack Obama, Will Smith, Jay Z and the like all the more difficult.
Here’s how SNL celebrated the news:
Welcome to the cast @mikeyfuntime, Alex Moffat and Melissa Villaseñor!
— Saturday Night Live (@nbcsnl) September 12, 2016
Villaseñor, who hails from LA and previously competed in Season 6 of America’s Got Talent, has become known for her impersonations, a skill which should come in quite handy on the sketch comedy show. It seems that the emphasis with the new cast additions this year is on improv and sketch-comedy skills, talents that work best in a group dynamic rather than in solo moments, like during “SNL’s Weekend Update” for example.
Day, also in LA with The Groundlings, has been writing for the show for a few years and was the head writer on Maya & Marty. He’ll likely fill in the roles vacated by Killam, and if you recognize his voice, it’s probably because you’ve seen him on Kath & Kim or have heard him on animated series like Mad and Robot Chicken. Chicago-based Moffat is the biggest unknown of the newcomers. We’ll see how they all handle the gig once SNL debuts on October 1st.