Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update desk is maybe the best seat in Studio 8H, launching some pretty big careers over the years. Current anchor Seth Meyers is headed to NBC's Late Night next year. Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Jimmy Fallon all left the job for their own TV shows. Even Dennis Miller is still working as a conservative pundit.
SNL creator and producer Lorne Michaels finally unveiled the next lucky cast member who'll inherit a position that Bill Carter in The New York Times calls "an almost guaranteed ride to the next level of stardom": Cecily Strong, who joined Saturday Night Live only last season. Starting Sept. 28, Strong will co-anchor Weekend Update with Meyers, at least until he leaves. (Watch Strong on Late Night above)
"Cecily, from the first show, was right there," Michaels tells The New York Times. "She exploded." Michaels says he hopes Meyers might stay on as co-anchor even after he starts taping Late Night four nights a week.
Strong's move up to the anchor desk is only one of the changes in SNL's 39th season — Jason Sudeikis, Fred Armisen, and Bill Hader are gone, and new cast members Brooks Wheelan, Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney, John Milhiser, Mike O'Brien, and Noël Wells are stepping in. Comparisons to departing cast members — or whichever cast you watched in high school — are inevitable.
But the Weekend Update job is the easiest apples-to-apples comparison. Strong is aware of the pressure:
@sethmeyers lets hope I make it through the first show without barfing or fainting!
— Cecily Strong (@cecilybecily) September 15, 2013
She's not new to the Weekend Update desk, however. One of her most popular characters from last season was a semi-regular guest at Myers' side: "The Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation with at a Party." (For those of you not familiar with the character, here's a bad recording from a show last Christmas:)
So, is Strong up to the job? Megan Angelo at Glamour is excited: "This is awesome. Cecily is a firecracker, and it's amazing to see the comedy equivalent of a gutsy cub reporter win the seat so quickly."
She obviously has a strong rapport with Myers, so that bodes well, says Josh Kurp at Uproxx. Besides, he adds, "Strong writes for these characters...
...so in my book, she can do no wrong."
That's the key thing: Strong will only be as good as her jokes. Colin Quinn's bad delivery isn't the only reason you remember Tina Fey's tenure but not his. So Strong's success depends a lot on new head writers Colin Jost and Rob Klein. And while her promotion is good news for fans of the Chicago native, it's bad news for fans of her most beloved character:
As for The Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation with, it's prob safe to assume that she died somewhere, mid-conversation.
— Seth Meyers (@sethmeyers) September 15, 2013