Last night was the final Saturday Night Live episode for longtime cast member Cecily Strong after several years of questions about when she'd leave. She was originally cast on the sketch comedy show all the way back in 2012, and she’ll leave as the longest tenured female cast member in the show’s legendary run, which feels fitting given her ability to both drive sketches with original characters and help elevate those showcasing her co-stars with selfless supporting turns.
Her final sketch of the night and official goodbye was a “Blue Christmas” duet alongside host Austin Butler, but earlier in the show, she appeared on Weekend Update as her recurring character Cathy Anne. During her bit, which was about poor Cathy Anne finally getting caught and going to prison, she talked about why it was time to go to jail, but for fans who have watched her for so long, it was clear she was talking about her own time on the show. During her speech, she talked about memories and how it was just her time to leave right now. Here’s a portion of the quote…
“It’s just my time now” might seem like a vague, non-specific reason, but it’s actually the sentiment you hear from so many longtime cast members. Everyone leaves Saturday Night Live eventually, and while some leave for a specific movie role or some kind of other life circumstance, many go simply because their time runs its natural course. SNL is a grind that involves weird hours and saying no to a lot of opportunities (Strong was given time off to do a play as an example), and at some point, it just gets tiring. Even Kenan Thompson has said that exit for him is going to come sooner rather than later.
You can check out the full sketch below…
Cecily Strong was never the most famous cast member, nor was she ever the centerpiece of any particular cast, but she was a great facilitator and had a huge bag of tricks. She could handle a high volume of celebrity impressions, probably most famously Judge Jeanine Pirro and Melania Trump. She also had a lot of random characters like the aforementioned Cathy Anne and The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started A Conversation With At A Party. She could do it all, and her absence is going to leave a huge hole.
That was obvious during the last sketch of the night, which saw Kenan Thompson, Cecily Strong and others working at a Radio Shack. Once again, while the sketch was, in theory, about a woman leaving her job, it was very clearly about Strong finally saying goodbye. It starts with some nice words from Thompson about all the amazing things Strong can do, and it ends with a surprise duet of “Blue Christmas” alongside Austin Butler.
Happy trails to Cecily Strong, wherever her career takes her. SNL, which is going through a period of transition, will miss her. She’ll next be seen in season two of the Apple+ show Schmigadoon! After that, my guess is tons of creators will be hitting her up to appear in their projects. I can’t wait to watch them all.
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