More Saturday Night Live news? SNL eyes a fourth new hire to the featured cast! Meet Jay Pharoah

If people were excited to hear that Saturday Night Live had hired three new cast members to featured player status (as well as a number of new writers), then what will they have to say when news drops that SNL has its eyes on giving a big break to another new cast member? Let's find out!

Jaypharoah EXCLUSIVE and DEVELOPING! The Comic's Comic has learned that Jay Pharoah, a young stand-up comedian from Virginia's Tidewater who has a full arsenal of impersonations — including one of President Barack Obama (and yes, he'd likely do it instead of Fred Armisen!) — is just about a done deal to become the fourth new cast member to join the on-air ranks when SNL's 36th season begins on Sept. 25, 2010.

He'll be joining Vanessa Bayer, Paul Brittain and Taran Killam as the cast newbies. This would represent the biggest single infusion of new talent into the show since 2001, when Lorne Michaels also hired four new featured players for the 27th season (trivia answer: Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler, Dean Edwards and Jeff Richards).

But what about Jay Pharoah, you ask? His bio says he's 22, but began working on his impersonations as early as junior high and in local comedy clubs in the Tidewater by the time he was 15. He says he would like to meet his comedy idols, Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock, both of whom rocketed to fame via SNL. Looks like he may get his chance sooner rather than later. Pharaoh flew in to NYC twice in August for screen tests and meetings with Lorne.

Pharoah has toured in the clubs with Charlie Murphy, and this spring, he performed in character at BET's "Spring Bling." Here's a short video of him as Jay-Z, bantering with BET's Terrence J. Roll it.

He has dozens of other celebrity impersonations, though. Here he shows off both his Will Smith and Denzel Washington in this spoof series he did called "Behind the Actor." Roll the clip!

Want another one? How about Pharoah holding a conversation as both Eddie and Charlie Murphy? Here that is…

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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3 thoughts on “More Saturday Night Live news? SNL eyes a fourth new hire to the featured cast! Meet Jay Pharoah

  1. With all the hype and hooey generated from a recent SNL episode where the host was selected as a result of public support, regardless of the personality involved, wouldn’t the buzz have been built more based on a feeling that viewers had made their voices heard?
    Even if the writers had tried to screw it up, which at times can be hard to tell the difference, wasn’t this pretty much a can’t miss scenario? While factors in the host selection process can lead to endless speculation, wouldn’t the more divergent path taken to get there tend to thicken the intrigue? Could this be the start of a trend, expanding the interactive so that people could have more of a say, or will it be back to business as usual?
    Years ago I was part of something along the same lines, runner-up in the Anyone Can Host contest. Following up on this more recently, I got back in touch with Lorne Michaels through a series of letters. As the process evolved, a few were addressed to certain individuals inquiring as to whether they would consider being host.
    Here are links, in reverse chronological order, to those letters:
    Andy Rooney Tiger Woods Susan Boyle Woody Allen Howard Stern
    Clint Eastwood Mel Brooks Buck Henry David Bowie Nicholas Sarkozy
    (Since the links won’t transfer, please go to: )
    With possibly little to gain by following up on this, it may be awhile before any of them ever do, yet isn’t that just the point? How much would it raise the bar if they did? Is SNL more about taking chances or playing it safe? Easy enough to ask such a question from the outside, perhaps the only ones who could find a credible response are too busy to ponder such things.
    Whoever the host might be, it’s just one show, one week, temporary impact. But what if a similar campaign were to add someone new to the writing staff? How much fun could that be? Not just anyone, a raving lunatic. Maybe not fresh out of the nut house, but somebody crazy enough to imagine there could be a chance in hell it would ever happen. Has the world gone crazy? Is there enough craziness out there to make a difference? Am I the only crazy one?
    So if you ever thought SNL was becoming more of a lullaby than wake up call, all it would take is a little follow up to start tipping the scales away from complacency, towards chaos…
    Better crazy than lazy,

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