A new cast member on a show is under the most pressure. He or she has to stand out, be engaging, and not be a complete waste of space/airtime. Especially on a show like Saturday Night Live. It’s not just about being funny, it’s about what you can bring to the table. Do you have good original characters? Do you have a repertoire of hilarious impressions? Do you jive really well with the rest of the cast? In what ways do you make yourself stand out more than a set piece? Lorne Michaels had to see something in you (besides the fact that you’re white), but that doesn’t mean the rest of America will.
It’s easy to sink like a stone on the stage of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. I’m here to walk you through my predictions of who will swim instead, and why.
Yes, they are five white guys and a white girl, but that’s a different subject for a different time (and has already been discussed to death thanks to this). Each new member has the chance to become the next Kristen, Fred, Tina, Amy, Jason, or Bill, but first they have to prove themselves. It’s still pretty early in the season to judge these newbies, but try to think of this list like your high school year book predictions. Probably not gonna come true, but hey, they’re funny to think about.
Our first award goes to Noel Wells. She nailed it as Hannah Horvath in the Season Premiere’s Girls parody, and equally killed it as Kristen Stewart in the “50 Shades of Grey” auditions (even though there was no dialogue from her, she really had the dead eye thing going on). It’s easy to see Noel filling the shoes of Abby Elliot in the cutesy impression category. While they haven’t really given her a chance to stand out on her own, hopefully she’ll continue to own it with her impressions. I’d keep an eye out for a Zooey Deschanel impression in the near future.
It doesn’t happen all that often, but every once in a while, SNL fails to use it’s funnier cast members in favor of people who look the part, especially in more sensationalist sketches (looking at you, Aidy Bryant). I am sad to say that I feel this is Brooks Wheelan’s fate. He is the only stand up comic of the bunch, which means he’s got great timing, but he’s only been featured in TWO “sketches.” I use quotations because he played HIMSELF in a Weekend Update bit, and he was in the E-Meth commercial, which, while it was totally hilarious, didn’t allow him to show off his skills.
It’s like having a knock-off Monet in your living room while you have a real Andy Warhol in your garage behind the tool cabinet. I really hope the writers wise up and use him more before he gets pushed to the side and forgotten about.
LEAST LIKELY TO SURVIVE PAST 1 SEASON
This is always a sad category. No one ever wants to root for someone to fail, but come onnnnn, John Milhiser’s latest claim to SNL fame was playing the back half of Bruce Willis in a centaur costume where his only line was “GAAAASSSPPPP.” He could easily be a very funny guy, but I have yet to see it. He’s barely in scenes, and when he is, he’s not the center of attention. Maybe he’ll come out of the blue with some hilarious stuff, but I don’t have a good feeling.
MOST LIKELY TO APPEAR IN ALMOST EVERY SKETCH
Ah yes, the award for “will show up in every scene that calls for a white guy” (aka the Will Forte, Bill Hader, Will Ferrel before he was uber famous, category). Beck Bennet has appeared in a majority of sketches since the new season premiered a month ago. Often times, he’s the only new cast member in a scene. In “Boy Dance Party” he was the only featured new cast member and it was a large ensemble group of the men of SNL.
You might not remember his name, but you will sure know his face.
MOST LIKELY TO ONLY STAR IN SKETCHES HE WRITES
Michael Patrick O’Brien is the most recent cast member to be promoted from writer since Jason Sudeikis in 2005. While it isn’t a bad way in, I find that coming from the writers’ room can often limit a cast member. It’s easy to just write yourself into scenes, especially if you’ve been dreaming about being on the SNL stage from behind a computer for years before you get there. This tendency often kills the humor in Mike O’Brien’s sketches. Sure, he knows his strengths and weaknesses, but often that means not taking the plunge, pushing the boundaries, seeing what else he can do. Also, if you write a sketch starring the guest host but you can’t take the limelight away from them, you’re left playing a used car salesman from the 1940’s while Tina Fey steals the scene.
Our final award goes to quite possibly the nerdiest and goofiest SNL cast member we have seen in quite a while, Kyle Mooney. If you don’t remember him from his Good Neighbor sketches, or you haven’t caught him on Hello Ladies this season, make a point of catching him on SNL. He is really outshining everyone at this point.
From his sexy bit with Miley, to his frat bro initiation sketch, to his stand-up comic character on Weekend Update, Kyle is the most well-rounded. He’s used to the best of his abilities in each sketch he is in, and isn’t just wasted because they need a guy in a scene. I don’t foresee many impressions, but with his comedic ability, I don’t think they will be all that necessary. Besides, resident impressionist Jay Pharaoh has capitalized on that.
Well folks, that’s all for this year’s New SNL Cast Member Awards. Gift bags will be left behind the dumpster at Hooter’s and the after party will be at the Rally’s on Venice in Culver City. See y’all next year!