8:00am PT by Tim Baysinger
Meet the New 'SNL' Castmembers: Who are Mikey Day, Alex Moffat and Melissa Villasenor?
They say change is the only constant in life. And that’s never more true than with NBC's Saturday Night Live, which has churned out more than 170 castmembers throughout its 41 years on the air.
This season features a notable number of cast shuffles with the departures of Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah, both after six seasons, as well as Jon Rudnitsky, who left after just one.
In their place are a trio of new faces: Mikey Day, Alex Moffat and Melissa Villasenor, along with two new head writers in Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider. Ahead of actress Margot Robbie making her own SNL hosting debut on Saturday’s season 42 premiere, here’s what you should know about the newest players to grace Studio 8H:
A writer and performer, Day becomes the latest SNL castmember to make the jump from the writers' room, following Colin Jost and Leslie Jones. During his three years, Day has been behind some of SNL’s most memorable sketches, including last year’s dark spoof of Dead Poets Society, “Farewell, Mr. Bunting.”
Over the summer, Day was co-head writer and castmember on another Lorne Michaels-produced variety series, Maya & Marty. Day frequently appeared in sketches during the six-episode run of the Maya Rudolph- and Martin Short-fronted comedy.
Originally from Orange Country, Calif., Day got his start at The Groundlings, following in the footsteps of former SNL-ers including Killam, Kristen Wiig, Chris Parnell and Will Forte. He also was a performer on Nick Cannon’s MTV improv show Wild ‘N Out. Day's most substantial TV role came on the short-lived NBC comedy Kath & Kim, which starred another SNL alum, Molly Shannon.
His other TV credits include the short-lived Showtime sketch comedy series The Underground and Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken. Day also co-wrote the indie comedy Brother Nature, which debuted earlier this month on VOD, with Killam, who stars in the film alongside current SNL vet Bobby Moynihan.
Alex Moffat is the biggest unknown of the new castmembers and SNL will be the Chicago native’s first real exposure to television.
An alum of popular SNL incubator Second City — where Bill Murray, John Belushi and Tina Fey got their start, just to name a few — Moffat was a regular performer at iO Chicago and the Annoyance Theatre.
On stage, Moffat performed a one-man show called Good Little Winnetka Boy, in which Moffat “digs deep to uncover the many characters who live in a small village at the center of his brain.” Moffat also starred in a Sherlock Holmes musical inspired by Jack the Ripper, called Ripper the Musical, with the Chicago Tribune describing his performance as “funny and believable as a three-dimensional character who seems to be wandering through the cartoony parameters of the show.”
Moffat doesn’t boast much of a web presence. He had a weekly show in which he interviewed comedians such as Tom Green, called El Show With Alex Moffat (though it’s very hard to find). Most notably, he’s appeared in a slew of shorts on Funny or Die. Moffat also co-starred in the 2015 indie film Uncle John.
Villasenor becomes the first-ever Latina castmember in the show’s 41-year history.
While the other two new castmembers are more performers than stand-up comedians, Villasenor has headlined more than 100 clubs and colleges around the country. She's known for her wide array of impressions, including Owen Wilson, Gwen Stefani and Jennifer Lopez, as well as animated characters like Mickey Mouse and Pikachu (Pokemon Go sketch, anybody?).
NBC viewers might recognize her from the sixth season of America’s Got Talent, where she made the top 16. She also has lent her voice to Family Guy, Adventure Time and Comedy Central’s Trip Tank. Villasenor most recently was part of Mas Mejor, a comedy studio from Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video.
She has even impersonated former SNL castmember Kristen Wiig.
In the days since joining SNL however, she has come under fire for a string of years-old offensive tweets, suffering a similar backlash as Trevor Noah when he first got the Daily Show hosting gig.
Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider
SNL not only has three new castmembers, but two new head writers in Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, who were promoted over the summer after several years writing for the show. Schneider becomes the first female head writer since Paula Pell left in 2008, and Kelly is the first openly gay writer. The two have been writing partners since joining the show in 2011, and are responsible for some of its best pre-taped bits, including “The Beygency,” “Back Home Ballers,” the Emmy-nominated “(Do It on My) Twin Bed” and the memorable Curb Your Enthusiasm spoof, “Bern Your Enthusiasm.” They also wrote the sketch “Bar Talk,” which featured Hillary Clinton talking to Kate McKinnon’s Clinton as “Val the Bartender.”
Schneider and Kelly were among the first wave of SNL writers to get their start on the web, with Schneider coming from College Humor and Kelly from Funny or Die. Kelly also wrote and directed the semiautobiographical film Other People, which starred Jesse Plemons, Molly Shannon and Bradley Whitford and debuted earlier this year at Sundance.
SNL's new season premieres Saturday at 11:35 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.