Taran Killam And Jay Pharaoh Will Not Return For SNL’s Next Season

Kind of a bummer.

Every Saturday Night Live cast member eventually has to say goodbye. (Except for Darrell Hammond.) Sometimes that departure comes right when its needed. Sometimes it’s too late. (Like Darrell Hammond.) And sometimes it’s way too early.

It’s hard to say where Taran Killam and Jay Pharaoh fall on that spectrum. Both spent six years on the show, and neither are coming back next season according to TV Line. Six years is a long time. For Killam, this sounds just about right. He definitely rose to prominence as both an impressionist and an everyman type player. He also has a foothold on a post-SNL career, which includes directing the upcoming Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy Why We’re Killing Gunther.

Killam is also one of SNL’s many white dudes. That’s not the case with Jay Pharaoh, who I feel the show might miss more in the long run. Pharaoh’s acting skills never felt fully developed, but his primary function on the show was to provide impeccable impressions of figures SNL’s largely white cast couldn’t touch with a ten-foot clown pole. Which he did like crazy. He’s going to be missed.

That’s my take as a viewer anyway. In an interview with Uproxx, however, Killam himself displays some shock and disappointment over not being invited back for the last season on his contract:

You sign for seven years, so I had one more year. I had sort of had it in my head I would make this upcoming year my last year, but then heard they weren’t going to pick up my contract. I was never given a reason why, really. I can assume until the cows come home. But I do know I’m directing this movie [Why We’re Killing Gunther with Arnold Schwarzenegger] and I’ll have two months of post-production that would have bled into the SNL production schedule, so we kind of communicated that.

I honestly don’t know what happened on the other side, but I do know we had expressed I have work on this film and in bonding this picture, that has to get cleared with SNL. And then [another offer] came up. I wasn’t going to have to take any time off to do it, but it was a thing that they would have had to okay.

As always, SNL will endure, but it’ll be sad watching the new season without these guys in tow. Jon Rudnitsky is also not coming back, but I watch the show every week and don’t even know what he looks like.