New anchor team to make its debut on Weekend Update
A new team takes over NBC’s storied Weekend Update franchise on this weekend’s Saturday Night Live (11:35 p.m. ET/PT).
After Seth Meyers’ departure Feb. 1 for Late Night, Cecily Strong’s new partner is Colin Jost a head writer who’s worked for the show since 2005 but has never appeared on it.
“I’m definitely a little nervous,” Jost says, but “I’m excited to just start already. I’m more anxious when I’m thinking about it.”
Subjects for their inaugural segment remained undecided Thursday, though Strong suggested the Arizona governor’s veto of an anti-gay bill is a possible target, along with plans to “reveal the Oscars a little early.”
Executive producer Lorne Michaels, who also is presiding over new starts for Jimmy Fallon and Meyers this month, predicts Jost’s move to Update will be “the hardest transition. Colin is brilliant and he’s truly funny and he’ll get there, but in midseason to come in and do that, (it’s) difficult to master … the physical technique of it.”
Still, Meyers says Jost has nothing to fear. The Harvard grad and stand-up comedian is “one of the smartest people I’ve ever worked with, and he’s also one of the goofiest people I’ve ever worked with, and that’s a good combination for that desk,” he says. Jim Parsons is a first-time host, but Update is “the thing I’m most excited to watch on Saturday.”
Strong, 30, who joined Meyers at the fake-news desk last fall in only her second year on the show, has found her tenure there — from playing “the girl you wish you hadn’t started a conversation with at a party” to anchoring — “great and insane and exhausting. It’s such a big part of the show (that) it’s a great way, if you’re new on the show, to see what (you) can do.”
Jost, 31, has been preparing for his new role for half his life. “When I was a young kid,” in his Staten Island, N.Y., Catholic school, “I would pretend to be David Letterman and pretend to be Norm (Macdonald),” reading jokey news headlines, he says. “It seems crazy in retrospect that the teachers would allow it.” So Update is “something I’ve wanted to try and take on as a challenge.”
While Jost calls Macdonald his “most formational” Update anchor, both he and Strong say the pairing of Fey and Amy Poehler were keys to the signature segment’s latter-day success. “They just kind of blew everything up,” Strong says.
And Michaels says Jost was the only obvious candidate for the job, following in the footsteps of other head writers including Fey (who also hadn’t appeared in sketches) and Meyers. “There’s something innately credible about someone who writes and is up to date about politics and pop culture moving into Update,” he says. “I’m just carrying on a tradition.”
Weekend Update’s anchors
1975-76 Chevy Chase
1976-80 Jane Curtin
1985-91 Dennis Miller
1991-94 Kevin Nealon
1994-97 Norm MacDonald
1998-2000 Colin Quinn
2000-04 Jimmy Fallon/Tina Fey
2004-06 Tina Fey/Amy Poehler
2006-08 Amy Poehler/Seth Meyers
2009-13 Seth Meyers
2013-14 Seth Meyers/Cecily Strong