Jon Rudnitsky joins Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah as the franchise’s latest departures.
Saturday Night Live is losing another key player for season 42.
Featured player Jon Rudnitsky is leaving the Lorne Michaels-produced veteran sketch show, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.
The stand-up comedian and Groundlings alum joined the series in season 41. He performed a sketch in which he portrayed Anderson Cooper serving as a moderator for a Democratic presidential debate (Cooper wasn’t a fan) as well as a Dirty Dancing bit (which was better received).
Rudnitsky was the only cast addition for season one of SNL. He joins Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah as key members of the ensemble sketch show who will not be returning for season 42 as the series is expected to add a few new faces for its fall debut.
Pharoah was best known for playing President Barack Obama, Jay-Z, Will Smith, Eddie Murphy, Denzel Washington and former GOP presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson. His exit creates an immediate void heading into the upcoming presidential election and Obama’s last days in office and leaves Michaels without a key ally. When the creator was the center of headlines in 2013 criticizing the long-running series over its lack of diversity — specifically black female actresses — Pharoah memorably tackled the issue head-on in a sketch with Kerry Washington where the Scandal star impersonated multiple black women, including first lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey, in the same sketch.
Killam, meanwhile, has been a big player in the current election cycle, impersonating Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, before Darrell Hammond returned to play the GOP presidential candidate. He also played Matthew McConaughey.
Killam recently said that SNL decided not pick up the final year of his seven-season contract. “I had sort of had it in my head I would make this upcoming year my last year, but then heard they weren’t going to pick up my contract,” he said. “I was never given a reason why, really.”