Colin Jost Steps Down as Head Writer at 'Saturday Night Live'

Colin Jost Jimmy Fallon Screengrab - H 2014

Colin Jost Jimmy Fallon Screengrab - H 2014

He has chosen to focus more on "Weekend Update," the satirical newscast he co-anchors with Michael Che.

Colin Jost – the handsome 33-year-old co-anchor of Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update" – has stepped away from his duties as the NBC sketch show's head writer. He is now credited among the show's 22-person core writing staff, a list that includes executive producer Lorne Michaels. The news was first reported by Splitsider.

A source close to the show tells The Hollywood Reporter that the move was Jost's own choice, made to allow him to focus more on the parody newscast he hosts alongside comedian Michael Che.

Jost joined the show's writing staff in 2005 shortly after graduating from Harvard, where he served as president of the Harvard Lampoon, a popular breeding ground for Hollywood comedy writers. He was just 22 at the time.

He quickly rose through the ranks, becoming writing supervisor in 2009 and head writer in 2012. His frequent writing partner, SNL veteran Rob Klein, remains a head writer, along with Bryan Tucker.

Jost joined the "Weekend Update" desk in 2013 at the request of Michaels, replacing the departing Seth Meyers, a previous head writer. Jost premiered in the segment on March 1, 2014, paired with Cecily Strong, who had co-anchored with Meyers since Sept. 28, 2013.

On Sept. 11, 2014, NBC announced that Strong would step down from "Weekend Update" to focus entirely on sketches, and that she would be replaced by Che, a staff writer at the time. The general consensus was that Jost and Strong lacked chemistry, though Strong's removal was roundly criticized as being motivated by sexism.

"I don't see this as me leaving Update, just as me being on Update in a looser, goofier way that is a lot more fun for me and in a way I think I'm better at," Strong wrote in an Instagram at the time.

After a bumpy start marked by fumbled line-readings and stiff deliveries, Jost and Che have managed to settle into a rhythm in the show's 41st season. Still, criticism persists that "Update," one of SNL's most popular offshoots, is floundering. 

Much of the blame falls on Jost. His "robotic smirk [bugs] the hell out of critics," writes the Daily Beast. "Can Colin Jost and Michael Che be saved on 'Weekend Update?'" The Atlantic asks. THR's own critic bemoaned the segment's "lame jokes." 

While "Weekend Update" boasts its own staff of dedicated writers to pen zingers riffing on the week's headlines, the show isn't beyond casting a wider net. Select comedians are invited at the beginning of each new season to join a "Weekend Update" email list – blind copied so no one knows exactly who is on it – and submit their own jokes.

If one makes it to air, the writer is paid $100.