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Chris Redd is latest to exit 'Saturday Night Live'

“Being a part of ‘SNL’ has been the experience of a lifetime. Five years ago, I walked into 30 Rock knowing that this was an amazing opportunity for growth,” Redd said in a statement.
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/ Source: Variety

Add Chris Redd to the list of veteran cast members walking away from “Saturday Night Live.”

Redd has decided to exit NBC’s venerable late-night showcase after five seasons on the program, and is just the latest member of what has been one of the program’s largest casts in recent memory to leave ahead of its 48th season. Lorne Michaels, the show’s longtime executive producer, had anticipated a season of change earlier in the year, and recently suggested the current group of comics stayed together to help each other get through the pandemic.

“Being a part of ‘SNL’ has been the experience of a lifetime. Five years ago, I walked into 30 Rock knowing that this was an amazing opportunity for growth,” Redd said in a statement. “Now, with friends who have become family and memories I will cherish forever, I’m grateful to Lorne Michaels and to the entire ‘SNL’ organization. From the bottom of my heart, I can’t thank you all enough.”

Image: Chris Redd as Kanye West
Chris Redd as Kanye West during the "People's Kourt" sketch on Saturday Night Live, on Oct. 9, 2021, in New York.Rosalind O'Connor / NBC

During his time on the show, Redd gained traction for his impression of New York mayor Eric Adams and took part in a large number of taped videos and sketches. He also shared in an Emmy award for his working in helping to write “Come Back Barack,” a song lamenting the departure of former President Barack Obama. Redd joined the series as a featured player in 2017.

He has an HBO Max comedy special in the works ”Chris Redd: Why Am I Like This?” which will premiere later this year. Redd co-created and is set to voice a lead role in a yet-to-be titled project from Michaels’ Broadway Video and Audible. He’s also attached to star in the feature film “Cyber Monday,” which is currently in development at Universal.

Every summer hiatus brings with it changes to the “SNL” talent roster, but these past few months have marked an unusual period of activity for the show. The departures of Alex Moffat, Melissa Villaseñor and Aristotle Athari were revealed earlier this month, following the announcements in May that Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Kyle Mooney and Pete Davidson were departing.

There has been a notable departure backstage as well. Senior producer Lindsay Shookus is parting ways with the program after years of managing talent relations.

As more TV viewers migrate to streaming services to watch their favorite scripted dramas and comedies on demand, “SNL” has taken on new importance for NBC. Once relegated to airing after the late local news in a time slot network executives didn’t consider paramount, “SNL” now runs live across the U.S. all at once, meaning that it airs in primetime in certain parts of the country. “Saturday Night Live” in the 2020-2021 season was the most-watched entertainment program on TV among viewers between 18 and 49, the demographic most preferred by advertisers.

The cast shifts are likely to leave a handful of current members shouldering more responsibilities each. week. Among those who have gotten regular screen time in recent seasons are Heidi Gardner, Chloe Fineman, Ego Nwodim, Mikey Day, and Bowen Yang. The status of veterans including Colin Jost, Michel Che, Kenan Thompson and Cecily Strong for next season has yet to be revealed officially by NBC. “SNL” has already announced that it is bringing on four new featured players ahead of the program’s season debut in October.

The large number of exits brings to mind the transition “Saturday Night Live” went through in 2012, when Andy Samberg, Abby Elliott and Kristen Wiig left at the end of the season, followed a few months later by Jason Sudeikis, and, a year later, by Fred Armisen and Bill Hader. The show’s remaining cast and some new members had to work to gel more cohesively.