Should Justin Timberlake join SNL full-time for a season? The precedent for big-name cast additions

In making the promotional rounds for his performance in the Yogi Bear movie, Justin Timberlake fielded at least two separate queries about whether he'd want to join Saturday Night Live as a full-time cast member.

Timberlake himself didn't bring up the subject either on the red carpet or last week on Lopez Tonight, but he also hasn't made it a secret that he'd love to give it go full-time for a season. Sound crazy? Actually no. Particularly since Timberlake has focused more on his acting than on his music in recent years. And particularly since SNL is seeming more and more like it's in a transitional year. When that happens, the show has shuffled the deck by bringing big-name additions to the cast.

See: 1984-1985. When Eddie Murphy became a superstar and left SNL before the end of the 1983-84 season, the show's second-biggest star (Joe Piscopo) also left. Dick Ebersol replaced them with Billy Crystal, Martin Short, Rich Hall, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer.

The following season, when Ebersol stepped aside and Lorne Michaels returned to produce the show, Michaels hired Randy Quaid, Anthony Michael Hall and Robert Downey Jr.

Almost a decade later, as Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman and others left the cast, Michael McKean completed the circle of Spinal Tap members to join SNL when he came onboard in the spring of 1994 during season 19.

The following season saw so many people coming and going, and Michaels hired Mark McKinney from Kids in the Hall as one of the new replacements.

So, despite the conventional wisdom that SNL likes to find and make comedy stars, the show has been known to add a known commodity to the mix whenever it has needed a boost. It's certainly apparent that, for lack of a more appropriate cliche go-to phrase, Justin Timberlake has brought sexy back to SNL each of the times he has hosted or made a cameo on it. Question is, do you think SNL needs a boost right now? Or does it need a jolt?

If you were Lorne Michaels, what would you do with SNL in 2011?

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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2 thoughts on “Should Justin Timberlake join SNL full-time for a season? The precedent for big-name cast additions

  1. I agree, not a huge fan of Kristin Wiig. It’s frustrating to watch her because she is so much funnier when it isn’t *her character* in a given sketch. Can’t stand Gilly. Just my little opinion.
    I think Justin Timberlake would be a great addition. SNL could use a bit of kick, and he’s been great in his appearances, not to mention the rapport with Andy Samberg. Can’t really lose with that gamble. 🙂

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