In A Very Punchable Face, the memoir that SNL head writer Colin Jost released over the summer, the “Weekend Update” anchor touched upon the tumultuous summer after his first season as anchor after replacing Seth Meyers. Jost explained that he had to re-audition for the role, although by that point, Cecily Strong — who had co-hosted “Update” with both Seth Meyers and Colin Jost — was no longer involved, and was eventually replaced by Michael Che. Jost speculated as to why, but didn’t say definitively why Strong decided to step down.
This week on WTF with Marc Maron, Cecily Strong finally explained exactly why she left the “Update” desk, despite being a fairly popular anchor during her brief tenure.
“I feel really thankful I got to do [‘Weekend Update’],” Strong explained to Marc Maron. “I was such a huge fan of Seth [Meyers], and he was our head writer, so getting to do that with him was a really big deal my second year.”
“But I did miss [character work],” Strong continued. “I would get kind of jealous of other people creating new characters on ‘Update.'”
Asked how it all transpired, Strong explained that, “there really wasn’t a set thing that happened. It didn’t feel like it was working out. It didn’t feel great. I felt like I didn’t want to be stuck to that. I didn’t want to only do ‘Update.’ And it felt like ‘Update’ was going to need a major revision, and it’s not Seth anymore, and it’s, like, can I walk away?”
So that’s basically what Strong did: She walked away. By the end of the summer, however, she briefly had second thoughts. “Should I have done that?” she wondered. “I had a quick fearful moment, but I am happy the way it worked out, and I love Michael Che.”
Again, Strong emphasized, she doesn’t want to sound ungrateful for the opportunity, but she and Lorne Michaels “had a lot of talks,” and Strong simply “didn’t want to be known for ‘Update,’ and especially, a not-great ‘Update.’ I want to do characters that are a lot of fun, and that’s what I want the bulk of what I do on the show to be.”
It’s certainly worked out for her. Cecily Strong is now known for dozens of characters, including Susan Collins and Jeanine Pirro. She’s also recently been cast as the lead in a star-studded musical comedy for Apple TV+.
SNL, meanwhile, returns for its 46th season premiere tomorrow night.
Source: WTF with Marc Maron