Abby Elliott Will Not Return to ‘SNL’ (but Jason Sudeikis Just Might)
Here’s somebody who understands about the right time to leave. Just four years into her run on SNL–and just one year after being promoted from featured player to full cast-member–Abby Elliott has elected to not return for a fifth. Nobody in the press spent this off-season speculating about will-she-or-won’t-she, because nobody, with good reason, even considered that she would not. She was definitely on the rise–a cast-member not just of great promise fulfilled but of great promise lying latent, her impressions becoming sharper and more numerous, and her original characters also multiplying and becoming more nuanced. She was on course to become one of the most important cast-members in the show’s history.
All cast-members leave, of course, but those who leave by choice typically stay around several years before doing so. Even after making a name for themselves, they keep grinding out those sketches, whether out of misplaced loyalty, the thrill of live television, the creative rush of writing/performing/directing (all cast-members get to direct the sketches they write), or some combination of those. Working those ungodly hours in such a highly competitive atmosphere takes its toll on those who subject themselves to the show and its rigors, even when this toll doesn’t manifest itself blatantly as drug addiction or severe mental illness.
One cast-member whose departure the press has been speculating about is Jason Sudeikis. Even after Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg have announced their decisions to leave, Sudeikis keeps everyone hanging. As the show’s resident Mitt Romney impersonator, Sudeikis’s visibility would–in the unlikely event of Romney becoming our president–increase exponentially. Sudeikis has blatantly stated that even this is not reason enough to stay around, sounding entirely like a man destined leave. During election season, he could of course still drop in, do his Mitt thing, and leave. It worked out surpassingly well for Tina Fey as Sarah Palin in 2008.
But even if Sudeikis stays, this could be the largest purge of the show’s talent since 1980, maybe larger. That talent will probably be replenished–it almost always is–but however the whole thing shakes out, this next season of SNL, which begins a month from today, is going to be fascinating to watch.
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