SNL Exits: David Spade Explains Why It's Wild People Like Pete Davidson Make It 8 Or More Years

Saturday Night Live’s recent season finale saw Pete Davidson leave the show alongside other cast members like Kate McKinnon. These departures came after months of speculation, which especially swirled around Davidson. What's still interesting, however, is the lengthy stints the stars had on the show. SNL tenures were arguably shorter back in the day, just ask series alum David Spade. Following the most recent exits, Spade explained why it’s wild that people like Davidson stay for eight or more years.

During SNL’s 1990s rebirth, the Just Shoot Me actor, along with Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Chris Farley, and other players didn't stay at 30 Rockefeller Plaza too long. David Spade stayed with the sketch series for six years before his film and TV career took off. That was the usual trajectory for most Saturday Night Live alums. But in recent times, viewers have seen cast members stay much longer. When speaking to TMZ, Spade admitted that he wouldn't have been able to stick around too long:

Well listen, people stay longer now. I stayed four years, no I think six. I think Sandler stayed five, Farley five… I think people leave because it’s such a fucking beating, you know? It’s tough on the brains and it’s tough on the body. And it’s just a hard place to be. The ones that go 8, 9, 10 years, I can’t even believe it.

He’s correct to a certain extent. Watching any SNL sketch is like seeing a theatrical performance in real-time. There are so many moving parts, from cast members pitching and writing their own material to them later having to nail their lines without breaking character.  And then, of course, all of this is done before a live studio audience, which can be daunting on its own. So yeah, there's a lot that comes with the gig.

Aside from the work itself, many also tend to leave due to offers brought upon by one's rising star status. In the '90s and 2000s, cast members would head to the sitcom realm (like David Spade) and many would also start venturing into film. The same thing happens even now, as we've seen of late. And with this increase in opportunities, one is forced to make a decision: either stay put on the NBC sketch series or venture into the next phase of one's career.

But SNL’s culture has shifted, as more cast members are indeed staying longer. The show’s longest-running cast member, Kenan Thompson, has even reached a major milestone with his historic tenure. And even he, like Kate McKinnon and Pete Davidson, has had other career obligations throughout the past several years. 

It's clear that the series has become more flexible when it comes to letting its stars branch out, which could be one reason why so many decide to stay on so long now. Still, it's inevitable that stars will leave, which can be bittersweet. But thankfully, many past alumni like Maya Rudolph return (and end up stealing the show)

Regardless of how long stars like David Spade or Pete Davidson stay though, you needn't worry, because SNL will always have a stream of steady stream of performers walking through its doors. And I'm curious to see who comes in this coming season to succeed the actors who've just departed. 

While you wait for Saturday Night Live to return, check out CinemaBlend's 2022 TV schedule for info on what's coming your way this year.

Adreon Patterson
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A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).