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Strong’s final show was Saturday night’s edition. She appeared as Kimberly Guilfoyle in the cold open and other segments, including one about “Jewish Elvis” as well as “Weekend Update.” In the latter, she played recurring character Cathy Anne, who was saying “goodbye” because she was going to prison. She joked that she’d be fine because she had “friends on the inside, they seem to be doing OK” as a photo of recently departed castmembers Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant were shown onscreen in prison garb.
“Everybody has to go to jail at some point, right? It’s my time now,” she added. Breaking character a bit toward the end, she said: “I had a lot of fun here. And I feel really lucky that I have had so many of the best moments of my life in this place, and with these people that I love so much.”
Another segment saw her as a RadioShack employee working her last day on the job. In the skit, Kenan Thompson, playing her boss, noted that she’d had “eight incredible years” working there. “Well, I’ve been here 11,” she said. “I know, and eight of them were incredible,” he replied, adding: “Frankly, I don’t think RadioShack could have lasted this long without Cecily. Every time she came to work, she had a new character, or a new accent, or a new impression that would just blow you away. She’d have a power and joy to her performance that made you remember why you loved working at RadioShack in the first place.”
Host (and Elvis star) Austin Butler then appeared as “Casual Elvis” — the joke was that they didn’t have enough money to spring for an Elvis Presley costume — and serenaded her with “Blue Christmas,” which she then joined in on, followed by Thompson and the rest of the SNL cast.
The news of her departure was announced Saturday on SNL’s social media accounts (see below).
Strong joined the sketch show, executive produced by Lorne Michaels, in 2012, its 38th season. Over the years, she created such characters as “The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party” and impersonated such celebrities as Kendall Jenner, Megyn Kelly and Liz Cheney.
It’s understood that the plan had been for Strong to return for only the first half of the current season. Fans had noticed her absence from the opening credits of the season premiere in October, but at the time she was appearing in The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and thus was unable to tape SNL in New York.
Strong next stars in the second season of Apple TV+ Schmigadoon!, which is also executive produced by Michaels. She also took a hiatus from SNL while filming that series.
Strong follows on the heels of other castmembers who have recently left SNL, including McKinnon, Bryant and Pete Davidson.
Saturday night’s SNL featured Lizzo as the musical guest.
Dec. 17, 10:32 p.m.: Updated with additional details from Strong’s appearance on “Weekend Update.”
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Robert De Niro