Update: Featured performer Jon Rudnitsky will also be leaving the show after only one season. At least he’ll always have that amazing Dirty Dancing bit.
Per Deadline, NBC has confirmed that season 41 of SNL was the last for cast members Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah. They both joined the show in 2010 and were a part of the legendary sketch comedy show for six years. Having each signed a seven-year contract, the announcement of departure is surprising to many, including Killam.
Killam and Pharoah were staples to the political comedy on SNL. Pharoah has been our deep-voiced President Obama since his arrival on the show, and portrayed a creepy Ben Carson last season. Killam was the regular Paul Ryan and the sometimes Donald Trump. Killam also portrayed a scary-perfect Brad Pitt and Ashton Kutcher, while celebrities on Pharoah’s repertoire included Jay-Z, Will Smith and Kanye West.
In an interview with Uproxx yesterday, Killam revealed that he thought this coming season would be his last, “but then heard they weren’t going to pick up my contract. I was never given a reason why, really.” Killam is currently directing a film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Why We’re Killing Gunther, and the timeline for post-production would have overlapped with the start of SNL later this year, but it had been discussed. He also recently signed on for another film, but said it wouldn’t have interfered with SNL, though producers needed to clear his involvement.
Pharoah hasn’t commented on the contract-severing decision, but also has two films in the works— animated family comedy Sing and animated adult comedy The Adventures of Drunky. He is currently in the midst of a summer stand-up tour.
It’s a shame that Killam and Pharoah won’t get the traditional emotional send-off that SNL veterans usually get, but Killam isn’t bitter: “It’s always hard and sad to say goodbye, but it feels like an appropriate time and I am so, so grateful to have been a cast member on Saturday Night Live.”