The Real Reason Chris Redd Left Saturday Night Live

Chris Redd made a name for himself in the comedy world during his five seasons on Saturday Night Live. He became well-known for his Kanye West impression (although he doesn’t consider himself an impressionist), and even won an Emmy for one of his many musical sketches. That is, until he recently followed in the footsteps of co-stars like Kate McKinnon by stepping away from the show. These days he’s venturing out on his own, having recently released his HBO Max stand-up special Why Am I Like This. Getting all of that stage time to himself is a far departure from the famed sketch comedy show, and that’s exactly what the man wants, as it turns out that he was simply tired of being a small cog in a big machine. Not only that, but the stress of the show was heavily weighing on his mental health.

When speaking about the constant stress of getting cut from an SNL sketch in contrast of being the star of his own special, Chris Redd opened up about the following:

I was worried about getting cut for time for six years. Turns out when you do a special, even if I cut an hour of my jokes, I'm still the only one talking for an hour. And I love that shit, you know? I mean, I was like, I want to spend the next five years just doing that, just creating, just creating stuff for me. And, you know, I think the fight for 5 to 6 minutes a week just wasn't driving me the same anymore.

Putting in so much work every week only to get five or six minutes of total time on the show must be a struggle, and Redd seems to be enjoying the fact that he’s exploring creative outlets that give him more freedom. It wasn’t just that, though, as the stress of a high-profile show like SNL was starting to get to him, and for such limited screen time, the sacrifice didn’t outweigh the benefits. He went on to say this:

You know, I'm speaking for myself, like SNL, I have always had anxiety, I've always had the things I have, and I've always dealt with it my own way but that job just took all my stuff and it just peaked it, pushed it to a level where it was just kind of unmanageable by myself.

Chris Redd’s mental health is a common theme of Why Am I Like This?, and while he never really mentions SNL by name, it’s not surprising to hear that such a job exacerbated these struggles. Not everything has been easy-peasy in the man’s life either, as he was recently involved in a scary attack, though thankfully he received surgery and is on the mend. Although the transition from SNL is a huge change, Redd seems to have a positive outlook and is making the best of it, so maybe Lorne Michaels was right in saying that it was a good thing.

You can see Why Am I Like This? on HBO Max right now! Not only is it hilarious, but it’s a cathartic look at the mental health of a comedian. If you still don’t have an HBO Max subscription, rectify that now to watch this special.

Jeff McCobb
Senior Video Producer

Jeff is a film buff who is full of gratitude that he gets to spout opinions about them for a living. He currently resides in Los Angeles, where he spends his time complaining about Los Angeles.