Colin Jost has become famous by delivering fake news on the venerable “Weekend Update” segment on “Saturday Night Live.” But he may be poised to deliver real headlines about his future with the program.
Jost’s new memoir, “A Very Punchable Face,” is due out April 14 from Penguin Random House’s Crown imprint. In uncorrected galley proofs of the book reviewed by Variety, Jost mulls the possibility that he may leave “SNL,” where he has held forth for 15 years as a writer, head writer and member of the show’s cast. It’s possible the language and remarks used in the galley may change before the book’s final publication date.
In the book, Jost says he is “preparing mentally” to leave the program sometime in the near future, suggesting he would like to continue co-anchoring “Weekend Update” with Michael Che at least through the 2020 election. Jost cites a desire to try his hand at developing bigger, broader ideas, compared with the sketches on the show that sometimes result from 24 hours of feverish idea-hatching.
His departure is neither certain nor imminent. Speculation about the comings and goings of “SNL” cast members has grown into a national pastime in recent years as word leaks about the looming end of a particular person’s contract or new projects they might like to tackle. Some cast changes can affect the program; the departures of Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg in 2012, followed by that of Jason Sudeikis several months later, deprived “SNL” of some popular faces while the show was in the midst of building up new cast members.
In recent years, however, executive producer Lorne Michaels seems to have found a way to let his cast juggle other projects (some of which are produced under the aegis of his Broadway Video business). Aidy Bryant has gained notice for her role in the Hulu series “Shrill.” Kate McKinnon, whose last contract was due to lapse last year, opted to stay with “SNL” this season, even as she won a starring role in a Hulu series about disgraced Theranos chief Elizabeth Holmes. Kenan Thompson, who has been with “SNL” since 2003, is a producer on the Nickelodeon show “All That,” and has been involved with a recent sitcom effort.
NBC declined to make producers from “Saturday Night Live” available for comment.
Regular viewers of “SNL” may not realize Jost’s influence over the late-night mainstay. He is in the midst of his second stint as a head writer at the show, where he has worked since graduating Harvard University in 2005. He has had a hand in writing some of the show’s longest-running characters, including Kenan Thompson’s portrayal of David “Big Papi” Ortiz (the various Caribbean foods he often mentions are the direct result of Jost’s vacations in that region).
Jost has been on “Weekend Update” since 2014, taking a seat on the long-running segment after the departure of former head writer and cast member Seth Meyers. Many cast members who work “Update” focus on just that, but Jost has in recent weeks been spotted in other “SNL” sketches, playing Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.
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