Fred Armisen Leaving SNL: What Happens When Our Favorite SNL Comedians Move On?


“It’s been alright, I’ve had a lovely night with you.”

Viewers of Saturday Night Live’s season finale last month were saluted with these lyrics from Fred Armisen and Bill Hader, two longtime cast members in the series who brought joy to millions of people worldwide. Whether it was their comedy sketches or their outright entertaining stupidity, the two join ranks of countless others who have moved on from their times at SNL to greater things.

In many cases, SNL can be seen as a place for up-and-coming talent to start their career path, and ever since its creation in 1975 by Lorne Michaels, the show has been seen as the only one of its kind and has even had effects on several political elections.

It should be noted that although new cast members can come and go, the fans of the show will always feel a loss when their beloved members leave the show. However, this constant give-and-take is what keeps the show new and entertaining. You do not need to mourn the departure of a member of any show for that matter, since it is almost considered a new birth and newer people will come to fill in the genius of the former one.

In fact, the show's very first cast members included John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and Chevy Chase, names which are certainly familiar in today’s culture. It was through SNL that the actors became the public figures they are today.

Just take the trio above for example. Dan Aykroyd was a virtual unknown when he signed onto the show. His only previous experience being an extra on a television episode, Aykroyd knew this was what he needed to get his start, and Michaels took a big risk by signing him on to be part of the show.

The gamble paid off when Belushi (also an unknown) and Chase (a few background roles here and there) signed on as costars as well. The trio led the team (along with Laraine Newman, Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner and Garrett Morris) to immediate success.

And that is what SNL is known for. These cast members spend their time doing what they love in order to bring entertainment to others, and if it just so happens that something is a hit, then a feature film is not out of the question. During their time on the show the trio of Aykroyd, Chase, and Belushi (as well as the other cast members) started to get to know each other. And The Blues Brothers came out of this. The very first film based off of an SNL sketch, the film is now known as a “whacky masterpiece,” or better yet, just a fun movie. Starring Aykroyd and Belushi, the film is an adaptation of a sketch the two did two years before on the show. 

Then the first generation of cast members left the show and were replaced, leading to Bill Murray joining the show, as well as Al Franken, Harry Shearer, and Gilbert Gottfried all within the next decade.

Just as fans went through a withdrawal phase as these first members left the show, they also got excited for the works coming from those members. Coneheads was another film which evolved from an SNL skit, this time starring Aykroyd and costar Curtin.

Arguably, Office Space could be considered the best of the SNL skits to become a film, but there are still very popular films that did evolve from SNL skits as well. Wayne’s WorldThe Ladies Man, and A Night at the Roxbury a few of the comedy hits that came out because of SNL.

Surely people can judge and say the new writers on the show could never match those when it first started, but the show's long tenure on air and continuing recognition as a cultural icon (36 Emmys, anyone?) puts it beyond compare to any other series today. And so, when someone leaves, someone else comes and makes the experience just as fun.