Will Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg and Jason Sudeikis leave Saturday Night Live?
Not to minimize the possibility of Kristen Wiig leaving NBC’s sketch comedy mainstay, but I think that part of this rumor is something we were all expecting. Ever since Bridesmaids became a blockbuster hit, we all knew she was too big of a star to stay part of a late night ensemble. Considering how much the show relies on her presence, she will of course be missed, but Lorne Michaels is used to this and has already taken steps toward the future. SNL develops big stars. The big stars leave. Unknowns come in to replace them and become big stars themselves. It’s a cycle that’s gone on since Chevy Chase left the show and continued with Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Chris Farley, Will Ferrell and Tina Fey. Kristen Wiig is just the latest in that impressive line.
The bigger worry in my mind seems to be Samberg. While Wiig has been the show’s rock for the past several years, Samberg has been its lighthouse. His range is limited, and I imagine if someone kept statistics on it (Grantland, this is your wheelhouse) he’d rank well behind Wiig, Sudeikis and Bill Hader in screentime, possibly even Keenan Thompson. But in an age where more people (in particular, more young folk) get their only glimpse of SNL from clips that blow up online after the show airs, Samberg has been instrumental in building buzz and keeping Saturday Night Live in the national conversation. In 2011, two of the ten most viewed videos on YouTube were Lonely Island songs that Samberg, along with Akiva Shaffer and Jorma Taccone, debuted on SNL. That’s a hell of a lot of exposure that will be hard to gain back. Plus, Samberg’s digital shorts offer a much needed change of pace in each episode, particularly now that Robert Smigel’s TV Funhouse segments are (mostly) nowhere to be found.
As for Sudeikis, I can only imagine how hard it will be for Michaels to find a replacement handsome white guy.