Saturday Night Live returned for its 47th season on October 2nd. With Owen Wilson hosting and Kasey Musgraves as the musical guest, it was a strong and successful season opener. Last season’s finale found fan-favorite cast members like Kate McKinnon, Cecily Strong, and Kenan Thompson sharing how grateful they were to be able to do the show during the global Covid pandemic. But are all of the beloved stars returning this year?
From new faces to returning cast members, here is the official roster for SNL‘s 47th season.
The longest-running SNL cast member is none other than Kenan Thompson, who is also probably the most well-known on the show. Famous for his run on All That and the popular comedy Good Burger as well as his fierce impressions (namely Steve Harvey), Thompson has been a part of the cast for eighteen years and has gotten to share the stage with many SNL legends.
Alex Moffat has been on the show since 2016, beginning his time with Margot Robbie as host. Last year, after President Biden’s win, Moffat took over for Jim Carrey as Biden in the show’s political sketches. Other than Biden, Moffat has a character that’s known as “The Guy Who Just Bought a Boat,” whom he’s played alongside Ryan Gosling and Ryan Reynolds.
Another fan-favorite cast member is Pete Davidson. Besides Thompson, Davidson is probably the most recognizable cast member after his very public romantic stint with singer Ariana Grande. Davidson is a cast member with numerous talents. While SNL has been hiring a lot of impressionists, he is more of a character-oriented cast member. With memorable characters such as Chad, a parodied version of Eminem, and even himself on Weekend Update, Davidson is funny in every role he plays.
Speaking of Weekend Update, Colin Jost is one of the segment’s co-anchors. Also known as the husband of actress Scarlett Johansson, Jost has been a part of the cast since 2014 and was a head writer before that. Now, along with co-anchor Michael Che, the two have developed a signature end-of-the-year sketch where they read each other’s jokes. It’s always a hit with fans and audiences who have begun to look forward to the Update tradition.
Finally being promoted to a repertory player during last season, Ego Nwodim is now in her second year as part of SNL‘s main cast. When Nwodim was cast, she was a breath of fresh air considering that there were finally actual women of color portraying themselves on camera as opposed to Kenan Thompson in a wig. It’s something fans have been pushing for and SNL has slowly but surely invited more women and people of color to join its cast. Nwodim is known for her music video sketches with the musical guests as well as her Dionne Warwick impression.
Kate McKinnon is an SNL veteran at this point. She’s incredibly talented and good at both impressions and her signature characters. She joined the cast back in 2012, which means that season 47 will be her tenth on the show. Some of her most memorable roles over the years have included Hilary Clinton and Ellen DeGeneres as well as the always-funny woman who has been abducted by aliens. She also does a mean Rudy Giuliani that never fails to evoke guttural laughs.
One of the new cast members from last season, Punkie Johnson made waves with her various Weekend Update characters. She’s originally from New Orleans but relocated to New York for SNL and has since become a fan favorite. She remains a featured player in season 47, and after the premiere, it’s clear that she’s bound to do great things moving forward.
Like other cast members, Mikey Day started his career with SNL in the writer’s room. In 2016, though, he joined the fresh faces of that season’s featured players. Now a well-known impressionist, Day has been known to do different accents and political figures, including Donald Trump Jr. during Trump’s presidency.
Cecily Strong is another player fans were worried might be leaving after last season. Fortunately for us, she’s here to stay while continuing to sing in pasta commercials. During last season, Strong was shooting Apple TV’s hit new show Schmigadoon, which is why fans didn’t see her signature characters as much as they have in the past. Now that she’s back, it seems like she’s ready to bring her A game to season 47.
Andrew Dismukes started SNL as a writer during Season 43, then in season 46 came on as a featured player. In season 47, he continues as a featured player, now with more and more screen time even in just the premiere. While he hasn’t had that specific character or skit to make him stand out just yet, his one-liners always get a laugh and remind people why they’re watching the show in the first place.
Of all of the newbies from last season, Chloe Fineman was among the most talked-about cast members. Fineman made headlines for her Nicole Kidman, Timothee Chalamet, and Drew Barrymore impressions, which were scarily accurate. She bears a slight resemblance to Barrymore, but her Kidman impression is pure talent. There’s sure to be more room and time for Fineman’s impressions and character work to flourish in season 47 now that she’s been promoted to repertory player.
Bowen Yang made waves as a featured player on SNL last year and was one of the most popular new additions in years, with many calling his work refreshing. It’s no secret that SNL has been controversial with fans over the past few years, but Yang’s character work and comedy chops are something everyone can agree on. He’s since been promoted to repertory player for season 47 and we’re excited to see what his future holds.
This will be Aidy Bryant’s tenth season on SNL and nearly everyone is excited for her return after it was feared that she would not be coming back after season 46. Most known for her appearances on Weekend Update, one of the pre-teen hosts of “Girlfriends Talk Show,” and in music video sketches as ‘Lil Baby Aidy, Bryant has become an SNL staple over the years. This season isn’t expected to be any different.
The other host of Weekend Update is Michael Che, who also happens to be one of SNL‘s head writers. Much like Jost, he tends to stay behind the Update desk, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t had some of the most memorable moments on the show in recent years. The joke swap is something audiences look forward to, of course, but Che’s interactions with Bryant’s character Carrie Crumb are so simple and funny that you almost never want them to end.
Originally, Kyle Mooney was known for his digital sketches and street interviews. He gained viral fame with “Miley Sex Tape” as well as a sketch when Seth Rogen hosted. Since then, Mooney has gradually made his way into the live sketches. Before Beck Bennett’s exit this season, the two would usually have at least one digital sketch together. Now that Bennett has left, though, who will Mooney’s new digital partner be? Hopefully we’ll find out as season 47 continues.
The queen of impressions is back! Melissa Villasenor has made an easy name for herself with her many characters and impressions on SNL. It would take a whole separate article to list them all, but a few notable ones include Dolly Parton (pictured above), Gwen Stefani, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Lady Gaga. What makes Villasenor so unique is that not only is she a talented comedian and impressionist, but a talented singer as well, so her musical impressions are both funny and pleasing to the ear.
Chris Redd is another cast member known for his musical skits and in 2018 he even won an Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for the song/skit, “Come Back, Barack.” Redd makes appearances in just about every part of SNL, making him a great all-arounder as a comedian. He also does stand-up on the side and stars in Kenan Thompson’s new sitcom, Kenan.
Heidi Gardner, most known for her character work, is thankfully also returning this year. She does a mean impression of Alison Janney and is also funny as the other random characters she plays in various sketches. Something about Gardner’s range of characters and impressions is so wanted and welcomed, so seeing her back on the screen is exactly what SNL fans were hoping for.
James Austin Johnson
James Austin Johnson is a new member of the Season 47 cast. Known across the internet for his Donald Trump impressions, Johnson seems like a worth replacement for Beck Bennett. In the season opener, we saw him portray the current president of the United States, and he appears to have Biden down just as well! He’s expected to bring even more characters and impressions to the show, including ones he’s shown on Instagram like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Elliott, Nick Drake, Michael Rapaport, and Adam Driver.
Aristotle Athari is an actor and director as well as a comedian. In fact, SNL may not even be the first place you’ve seen him. He had many small appearances in Silicon Valley, done standup performances on Comedy Central, and was also a part of Hasan Minhaj’s comedy special Goatface. Athari has had a bit of a career prior to SNL, and it seems that it’ll only grow during his run on the show.
Sarah Sherman, the last newbie of the season, goes by “Sarah Squirm” on stage and is a comedian that has developed a large social media following during the pandemic. She’s known for her passion for body horror and special effects, which she discussed on Bowen Yang’s podcast before she was even cast on SNL. It’s only right to assume that we’ll see some great and maybe even scary (?) stuff from her this season.
For months, fans have suspected that many of the longtime cast members were preparing to leave the show; however, the only cast members to actually leave were Beck Bennett after eight seasons as well as newcomer Lauren Holt, who was often compared to Aidy Bryant. The majority of the season 46 cast still stands, with a few new additions. No matter what, it’s clear that this year’s SNL cast is going to be better than ever at a time when the world truly needs its weekly dose of side-splitting laughs.