Saturday Night Live hires! Jenny Slate and Nasim Pedrad join the SNL cast

The 35th season of NBC's Saturday Night Live reportedly will add to its female cast, with knowledgeable folk filling me in on two new hires in Jenny Slate and Nasim Pedrad!

SNL staff began work this week for the 35th season, which kicks off with Weekend Update Thursdays on Sept. 17, and the first full SNL set for Sept. 26. Although actress Megan Fox has told the media that she'll host that season premiere, there has been no official press release from the Peacock Network to confirm that or the new additions to the cast, who should help relieve the pressure on Kristen Wiig to carry the female load, as she seemed to do during the second half of season 34 after Amy Poehler's departure (note: NBC has confirmed that Poehler will return to the anchor desk for the first two Weekend Update Thursday shows, Sept. 17 and 24, and help promote her own sitcom, Parks and Recreation). Anyhow. Yes. No other cast additions or subtractions have been made official just yet. And for the record (for whatever that's worth these Internet days), I was first last November with news about SNL adding Michaela Watkins and Abby Elliott to the cast. They're still there.

But you wanted to know about the new cast members? Alrighty then!


I know and adore Jenny Slate, and have even shared the G train with her. When I wrote about her one-woman show "Dead Millionaire" (at the UCB-NY in May), I noted that she has become a darling of the city's independent comedy scene. She's from Milton, Mass., moved to NYC to attend and graduate from Columbia University, and used to live a few blocks from me in Brooklyn.

She became comedy partners with Gabe Liedman, and together as Gabe & Jenny, they had their own weekly show at Rififi. More recently, they joined up with Max Silvestri to host the "Big Terrific" showcase on Wednesday nights in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. But you've most likely seen her even more recently in a Verizon TV ad in which a tech failure forces her and her coworkers to shout at each other — and she had the chance to impress NBC directly with her appearances as a network page and later, Jimmy's assistant, in the "7th Floor West" parody series within Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Here's the episode in which Jimmy met Jenny:


NASIM I knew I'd heard her name before, and sure enough, Google told me (via the UCB-LA) that Nasim Pedrad had her one-woman show, Me, Myself & Iran, in The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas in 2007, where I first saw her perform. Born in Tehran, Iran, Pedrad is a UCLA grad and has worked with The Groundlings, the UCB Theatre and Improv Olympic. She recently has been a player in the Sunday cast of The Groundlings.

Over the past couple of seasons, Pedrad also has been featured elsewhere on NBC, playing "Nurse Suri" in several episodes of ER. The clips from her one-woman show, however, were taken down from the YouTube.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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51 thoughts on “Saturday Night Live hires! Jenny Slate and Nasim Pedrad join the SNL cast

  1. I guess no one will be doing any Michelle Obama impersonations for the next four years.
    Ah, Lorne….you fucking Klan member you.

  2. Dang, I’m going to sound like a hater, but Lorne Michaels has turned into the stereotypical dirty old producer. There was a time when someone could get on SNL on guts and talent. Now Lorne only hires beautiful, young women. Don’t get me wrong, these ladies could also be supremely talented. But nobody can tell me that while his target demographic is mostly male and getting older, it wasn’t a cold, calculated maneuver for Lorne to hire pretty young women to populate the show. There was a time when a woman could get on SNL on guts and talent, and didn’t have to be a sweet, little pretty young thang. I guess Lorne’s finally jumped the shark and taken the show off the Fox News bimbette route. Too bad.

  3. I wonder if this means that Abby Elliot and Michaela Watkins will actually get to appear in sketches more than once a show. They are two of the best impressionists (that’s not the word is it?) the show has.

  4. Related to the last post, when is SNL going to get some more good impressionists on there? It’s all UCB, Groundlings, etc.

  5. “Bob Dobolina”, what a stupid an ill-informed comment. Are you basing it on headshots!? Gilda Radner had a great headshot. So did Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler and Kristin Wiig. Don’t think for a second that the producers of SNL didn’t vet these actors’ ability to bring funny characters to the table and adapt to the grueling production schedule. You think he’d jeopardize one of the most recognizable brands in American entertainment because he wants cute girls? Apparently you don’t know the show too well.

  6. Well it looks like African American Comedians have no chance on SNL anymore .Real funny men like Garrett Morris, Eddie Murphy,Chris Rock, all helped put SNL on the map but not even an Asian or Latino can get any love? Hell they could offer a gig to one or two former cast members from the defunct Mad TV.
    Same old Chicken and Gravy nothing new.

  7. I haven’t watched SNL in years because it hasn’t been funny, but I’m glad they are hiring pretty females. It makes the show that much better. Sex sells.

  8. Years, really? So, how would you know? I take it, then, that you must be psychic, NiceGuy? Or do your declarations of relative merit in humor just come to you in your dreams?

  9. Michela Watkins is funny, Abby Elliot is great, Casey Wilson is…there.
    The problem is Lorne is damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. If he got another black comedian in he’d be accused of tokenism. Personally I’ve always loved Kenan since Kenan and Kel, and he’s been steadily improving throughout his time there.

  10. What’s with all of the snap decisions? Wait until the new season starts!
    As for the other ladies, I’m fairly certain that no decisions have been made to cut any of them, despite rumors to the contrary.
    And I’m pretty sure a TV comedy show can be funny without needing a Michelle Obama. If she does something that needs to be mocked, then we can talk about that.

  11. Maybe they don’t need a Michelle Obama.. but it WOULD be nice if they could parody The View or any one of the dozens of black female sports figures, singers, or actresses without having Kenan play them(a conceit which becomes less funny and more racially pointed as the show reaches its 35th anniversary having only had 3 black women in the cast in its entire history). Really.. we’re good sports about this.. but we DO want to be in on the joke. It strains credulity that you have one black cast member and then after adding two new white women to the cast last season you then begin the new season with two more who presumably will use up all of the brown paint at NBC over the next year doing imitations of Oprah, Michelle, Beyonce, Rihanna or Halle Berry. No one is calling for a quota but sheeeezusss… For the last 20 years almost the entire top shelf of the music industry was overwhelmingly black… heck even HOOTIE is making a run on country music. If the real world is no longer screening out blacks, latinos and asians then why should the comic world UNLESS neurotic new york actressy types are feeling seriously underrepresented.

  12. Good Lord…. if you people actually ran the show its obituary would be the only thing being produced this fall. Killed by political correctness.

  13. I like how all of you immediately write off an Iranian as a white person.
    Race and identity go far beyond the Big Four of White, Black, Asian and Hispanic. Stop acting like you’re the EEOC and have always been at the vanguard of racial equality in comedy shows.

  14. 15 years ago, everyone was complaining that the best Lorne could do in the female department was Ellen Cleghorne. Now, people are complaining that there’s too large a slate of chicks on the opening credits. Oh general public, your long-term hypocrisy is adorable!

  15. Apparently there are no undiscovered black females or males that make Loren laugh.
    He used to have an eye for spotting talented blacks like Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock.
    His lack of hiring black actors either shows that he thinks there are no fresh black comedians on the market, or he just think Kenan Thompson is enough of a quota to quiet his critics.
    It’s time for another black produced, In Living Color type-show to step up and show that Loren is wrong.

  16. It’s not political correctness to expect that a comedy show like SNL would actually hire black or biracial (or hispanic or asian) female talent. Why is wrong that in the year when the Supreme Court has its first hispanic member, SNL still remains overwhelmingly white? I suppose when your ethnic or racial group is so overwhelmingly represented it’s impossible to understand how those of us on the other side, feel.

  17. Grow a spine, SNL is about comedy, not racial equality. You have some serious issues if you are worried about the ratio of white, black, latino, asian, iranian, antarctic and whatever other nationality is on the show. Watch it if you thinks it’s funny, otherwise you have the freedom to watch something else.

  18. WHAT????
    Chris Rock was AWFUL!!!! on SNL. And his tired “WHITE PEOPLE” jokes bit, which he actually tells as points of wisdom, is bigoted.
    Eddie Murphy is classic, Kenan Thompson is also classic… This is a sketch comedy show and unfortunately most of the black performers have stand up back grounds. That doesn’t always translate to Sketch Comedy well. Finese Mitchel is case in point, intelligent, HYSTERICAL STAND UP, not so good at sketch performing. Tracy Morgan would be an exception.
    The problem with black sketch comedy shows is too often they fall back on the tired “make fun of white people” bits. Which has been done to death.
    People hollering about filling a “QUOTA” of certain ethnicities are retards and should stfu and quit the interent.

  19. Jerry- Really? I’d be surprised given she had a couple of regular characters last year (as did Elliot).
    If that is the case it’s an odd decision.

  20. “I was first last November with news about SNL adding Michaela Watkins and Abby Elliott to the cast.”
    Please answer me this simple question: Apart from your mother, significant other, or your employer, exactly who cares?
    Once I read this idiotic bit of self-promotion, I immediately stopped reading. Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.

  21. Jerry,
    If that’s the word, then that’s horrible news about Michaela Watkins. She was a stand-out in her first brief season with the cast, coming in mid-season, and really made her mark. I was far from the only one who thought that. Plus, NBC and its various outlets loved the Hoda/Kathie Lee spoofs that Watkins did with Wiig! Does not make sense. Unless something else came up. Will have to look into this further.
    I just saw her perform with Jason Sudeikis at the UCB during the Del Close Marathon, too!
    Hmmm. Blerg.

  22. Hoda/Kathie Lee is probably what killed her. That skit was terrible and has been done to death. It’s the same thing Will Ferrel and Cheri Otteri were doing ten years ago.
    And to everyone complaining about a lack of Asians, this article shows they just hired an Asian.I’m sorry if Iran wasn’t the country of origin you wanted, but it’s a small cast and there’s a big world out there to choose from.

  23. I don’t care what anyone wants to say about this but I cannot support “SNL” until they diversify this cast. It’s ridiculous. White people are not the only people that exist in the world. It’s that simple.
    Of course the show is about comedy but people of all different colors make comedy. BLACK COMEDIANS EXIST! LATIN COMEDIANS EXIST! ASIAN… NATIVE AMERICAN… I don’t care if they don’t have sketch comedy backgrounds. Find them. Test them. Just make the effort! “MadTV” did it effortlessly the show’s entire run! It’s not complicated. If your show makes funny comments on the world, try having people that look like all the people who exist. Not just some.

  24. Congrats on the new hires, but there’s one big change to SNL no one has mentioned. For the first time in the show’s 35-year history we won’t be hearing the dulcet tones of Don Pardo introducing the cast. As minor as that may be to the overall show, something’s going to feel missing to me on September 26.
    Also the first time in 14 years we won’t see Darrell Hammond’s talented impressions on display either.

  25. Good… get some new talent in there.
    SNL has a history of being
    the go-to place for topical
    humor, and dead-on parody.
    Seems like the past 10 years has been lacking.
    If you look at the history of the show,
    the original cast was mostly improv
    and standup-based talent from all
    over the country, and Canada.
    Might not be a bad idea to bring on
    these two women who both do a “One Woman Show”
    Seems like the show could grow again,
    but will probably never be what it once was.

  26. I really can’t believe all of you people find Kenan Thompson funny.
    He couldn’t be more over the top…couldn’t have less charisma or the ability to hold things together on his own. No charm. No timing.
    I mean…really? Honestly?
    He’s worse than Casey Wilson. And I really loathe Casey Wilson as a performer.

  27. my name is william david johnson jr. i love comedyplease help get me on saturday night live,,,,,, i am on the rick and bubba show making people laugh i love making people laugh.

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  29. Jenny Slate is my favorite star an I’m totally agree she is joined with Nasim in another important performance.An I have to add I’m fan of the comedy.

  30. hey this is william david johnson jr. like in hank williams jr.i am still waiting for my private plane to come and pick me up to bring me to saturday night live, wow no plane yet, its a long dam walk to stardom but gas cost so much and my old truck would fall apart before i got there its been running run i have done put two freeze plugs in my old truck already this the way where the hell is saturday night at anyway if you dont mine my asking.

  31. i do want to be on saturday night live,and im trying to get up with larry the cable guy i want to get on board with the blue collar tour.this computer is for someone a hell of a lot smarter than me i tell you what they didnt have these dam things when i was growing up. we are living in dam space age thing you know we will all beflying airplanes one house to the other cars will be a thing of the past.i guess i better close for now and get my ass in the bed because if my o lady catches me up on this dam computer, shes going to computer my ass to bed,now i hear my dogs a barking she will for sure wake up and get me now.saturday night live i tellyou what you have got it going on………keep it a trucking.

  32. hello, this is william david johnson jr, its been quiet a while that i drop any lines i must be getting a little bit older and rusty in my old age.where is saturday night live i tried to get there to be on Q….. but i must have took the wrong turn with my plane….. O crap… i will try next time… take care every one i love you all…… intill i see you next time its saturday Night Live……… william david johnson jr.

  33. His lack of hiring black actors either shows that he thinks there are no fresh black comedians on the market

  34. i have been doing comedy for 12years are more on the rick and bubba show, you all know me as david from louisville,i thought by now i would have landed a contract and sign it for a million dollars are more, whats wrong with you peopleout there…… you cant see me as a money maker… your eyes……. i am one hell of a comedian.

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