In one of the most rapid ascents to stardom ever seen on “Saturday Night Live,” Oak Park’s Cecily Strong has been named co-anchor of “Weekend Update” in just her second season on the air.
“Cecily, from the first show, was right there,” “SNL” executive producer Lorne Michaels told the New York Times. “She exploded.”
She’ll share the desk with incumbent anchor Seth Meyers, scheduled to become the new host of “Late Night” early next year.
Hired along with two other Chicago-trained performers last summer, Strong quickly broke from the pack, performing a Weekend Update monologue on her first episode and returning to the desk several times as the Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party.
“For her to have the kind of season she had the year after [Kristen] Wiig left is that thing that makes you confident going into this next season of transition that there’s always someone who shows up and does things you’ve never seen anyone on the show do,” Meyers told the Sun-Times earlier this year.
During her Chicago comedy years, Strong was part of the iO Theatre’s team Virgin Daiquiri and a touring Second City performer. Her appointment keeps up an almost decadelong streak of locally trained “Update” anchors following Meyers, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey.
“SNL” is entering a season of unusually heavy cast turnover following the exits of key players Bill Hader, Fred Armisen and Jason Sudeikis. Scouts from the show have been surveying talent at several of the country’s comedy nerve centers, including Second City and iO.
On Monday, NBC is scheduled to announce a heap of new hires including Wilmette’s Beck Bennett, familiar from AT&T commercials where he drolly interviews groups of precocious children.
In the Times interview, Michaels also floats a novel idea: that Meyers could remain on “Weekend Update” even after he starts his “Late Night” job.
“Seth is a unique case,” said Michaels, who also runs “Late Night.”
In other change for the “SNL” Chicago contingent, two staffers essentially will be swapping jobs this season. Tim Robinson, added as a featured player last year, moves to the writing room, and writer Mike O’Brien becomes an on-air performer.