Luke Null is a promising young sketch performer and musical comedian from Chicago who, you might be surprised to learn, was a regular featured player on the most recent season of Saturday Night Live. That might surprise you because, in one of the odd little traditions of NBC’s long-running show, Null’s one of those SNL cast members who almost never actually made it onto air. Unless you’re a hardcore SNL fan who watches every episode and follows all the news about the show (or, uh, a professional critic who watches it for work), it’s very likely you never even realized that SNL had a cast member named Luke Null this past season.
In case you’re wondering why we’re referring to Null’s time on the show in the past tense, well, the obvious and widely predicted is now official: according to Vulture, Null will not be returning for the show’s 44th season, which presumably starts next month. We’ll leave it to you to decide what it says about a show’s culture when it routinely hires people and then does almost nothing with them before cutting them loose after a single year, or to speculate whether or not Null was able to project whatever the show initially saw in him once he was subject to its hectic and stressful backstage environment. Maybe he deserved more opportunities to show his stuff, or maybe he blew what opportunities the show afforded him. Maybe he could’ve impressed his employers more if they didn’t consistently bench cast members for celebrity cameos and stunt-casting. It’s not like those of us on the outside are in much of a position to know these things, though.
We can say that this seems to be happening way more over the last few years than it used to. Null will be the eighth SNL cast member this decade to only last one season. That’s like an entire cast right there. Maybe somewhere there’s a parallel dimension where Tim Robinson, Noël Wells and Mike O’Brien have been anchoring SNL for years like Will Ferrell and Phil Hartman did, and where Luke Null was the breakout addition of the 2017-2018 season. Instead those three are off creating or acting in stuff like Detroiters and Master of None and A.P. Bio, which should really give Null a good bit of hope right now—now that he’s not tied down to that show maybe he’ll be able to go do something better, like those three did.
This sketch below, from the episode that John Mulaney hosted earlier this year, is probably the best work Null got to do on SNL.
And here’s the best stuff he didn’t get to actually do on the show, one of the cut for time sketches they’ve started adding to their YouTube page. Here Null gets to show off his great voice in a sketch built on a simple but funny premise. It also features Mulaney, who maybe knew how to use Null better than SNL itself did.
Expect more news on SNL cast changes over the next few weeks. And expect DVR season passes around the nation to be cancelled en masse if the Emmy-nominated Kenan Thompson doesn’t return for his 16th season.
Also, on a personal note, Luke Null looks a lot like my 13-year-old cousin. So much so that, if he winds up starring in any projects that have flashbacks to when Null’s character was in middle school, the producers should definitely call my sister and make it happen. That has absolutely nothing to do with this story, but for real, the resemblance is uncanny.