Michael Che replaces Cecily Strong on SNL Weekend Update; more SNL cast hires coming in 2014

What did you do on your summer vacation?

Michael Che — who left the Saturday Night Live writing staff in May to join The Daily Show with Jon Stewart as an on-air correspondent and hooked up with Funny or Die’s Oddball Festival for four tour stops in August — is rejoining SNL this season in front of the camera as the new co-host of Weekend Update.

SNL creator Lorne Michaels announced he’d rehired Che last night, replacing Cecily Strong on the desk as Colin Jost’s co-anchor with SNL premieres its 40th anniversary season on Sept. 27, 2014.

“Michael is a strong writer, and he’s really funny,” Michaels told The New York Times. “It’s always difficult to make changes and make ‘Update’ different from what’s gone before.”

Fun fact: Strong and Che appeared together in a hybrid Jeep commercial that aired last season during SNL episodes.

More facts: Weekend Update went through multiple changes last season, first introducing Strong as co-host to Seth Meyers a year ago, then promoting co-head writer Jost to the desk this spring when Meyers left SNL to host Late Night down the hall in NBC’s 30 Rock. The young duo of Jost and Strong never gelled onscreen to find a distinct rhythm or personality, unlike past Weekend Update duos (see: Meyers and Amy Poehler; Tina Fey and Poehler; Fey and Jimmy Fallon; Bill Murray and Jane Curtin; Dan Aykroyd and Curtin).

SNL tested several new tandems over the past few weeks before deciding on Jost and Che. This will be the first all-male duo, and Che marks the first African-American to man the Update desk full-time.

“This is about a new era, what feels appropriate for now,” Michaels told the NYT. “That’s why we did a lot of combinations and tests, and this is kind of where we came out.”

Past Weekend Update anchors Norm Macdonald and Colin Quinn congratulated Che overnight on Twitter.

“This might be the coolest Tweet I ever got in my life,” Che said in response to Macdonald.

The SNL move benefits Strong, too — giving her more opportunities to perform in sketches, as well as allowing her to bring back her early breakout character, Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation with at a Party.

UPDATED with more congratulatory Tweets from SNL Weekend Update colleagues past and present, including Meyers and Jost.

Michaels also said he’s still deciding on hiring one or two new cast members. That decision is likely any day now. For the 40th anniversary, he’s also bringing back Emmy-nominated SNL episodes from the past four decades to air in the 10 p.m. (Eastern/Pacific) hour Saturday on NBC. The network had been airing same-season repeats in that time slot last season.

But talk about a successful summer move for Che!

Putting himself in front of the camera for Comedy Central proved to Michaels and everyone else how adept Che could be delivering his take on the headlines. Here are Che’s two most recent reports for The Daily Show.

Che’s report on the racial turmoil in Ferguson, Mo., and the killing of a young man by police, found he couldn’t be safe anywhere.

Last week, Che filed this piece about illegal immigrant children in American schools.

Congratulations, Michael!

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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