By Solomon Shapiro
At the end of season 37, both the comical Kristen Wiig and the hilarious Andy Samberg made their departs from SNL. Season 38 ended this past week with an amazing job done by Ben Affleck as host, but the attention of the night was focused on Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, and Jason Sudeikis. Prior to the night, Hader had announced his departure from the show; Armisen did not announce his departure until the final skit of the night, wherein he portrayed, Ian Rubbish, the musician he introduced a month ago in the “History of Punk”. Sudeikis also made his announcement after the show, with an emotional embrace with Armisen and Hader.
Armisen will forever be known for his portrayals of President Obama, Prince, Steve Jobs, David Paterson, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Garth, opposite Kristen Wiig in Garth & Kat), along with countless other political figures. Although most were comical and outstanding, who can forget ‘The Californians’, a stereotypical Californian drama, that frankly fell short of being anywhere near funny. Armisen was the most senior member of SNL, being on the show for 11 seasons, his title has been passed on to Kenan Thompson, who has been on the show for 10 seasons.
Sudeikis has portrayed celebrities A-Z, some being Adam Lambert, Dane Cook, Donald Trump, George W. Bush, Bon Jovi, Mitt Romney, Robert Downey, Jr., Wolf Blitzer, and let’s not forget his hilarious depiction of the devil.
Now onto what I consider to be the saddest of the departures, throughout his 8 years on the show, Hader had not only portrayed Julian Assange in 2010, John Boehner, Clint Eastwood, and Dr. Oz, he has built a cult-like following around his Weekend Update character, Stefon. Stefon started as a character on season 34, where two brothers played by Ben Affleck and Hader were hired to write a movie. The first brother had good ideas, but Stefon gave the worst, but most hilarious ideas for the movie. From there, Hader’s ‘Stephon’ character exploded into the most- loved Weekend Update guest.
Stefon faithfully served as Weekend Update’s extremely flamboyant New York City Correspondent, always recommeding the absolute worst places to visit in NYC. His nightclubs always had “strange” names, some being Crease, Taste, Slash, Ounce, BOOOOOOOOOOOOOF, HEYYYYYYY!!, UHHNNNH, and BAAAAAAAA-BAANAM. These clubs were always the creation of some messed up guy, with crazy attractions like tweakers, ‘a child’, and always having some sort of outright wrong but hilariously un-PC one- two punch at the end.
Stefon character writer, John Mulaney, would often change the rehearsed jokes right before Hader took stage so as to catch him off guard, leaving him to burst into laughter during the sketch. So when the audience saw Hader covering his mouth during the skit, holding back laughter (which became a signature move), it was in the very moment that he had just read the outrageous joke for the first time.
The departure of these three SNL icons will force Lorne Michaels [SNL creator/producer] to search for new talent. Hopefully, the departure of Hader, Sudeikis, and Armisen is not the beginning of the end of SNL.