Like many of you comedy fans out there, I have been harboring a low-key, but totally legit crush on Saturday Night Live's Taran Killam. So, I was understandably devastated when I heard that Killam would not be on SNL for Season 42. His face will be missing in those opening credits when the new season premieres on Saturday, Oct. 1 and his exit left many SNL viewers confused since he seemed like an integral part of the cast. So why did Taran Killam leave SNL this season? Turns out, Killam is as befuddled as the rest of us.
Killam had been on Saturday Night Live since 2010 and was the go-to guy for impersonations and crazy-eyed characters, so the show will definitely be different without him. Killam spoke about leaving SNL to Uproxx after the news was announced in August and, apparently, he was pretty surprised he wasn't returning. Like his castmate Jay Pharoah, he was let go of his contract one year early (they had signed the standard SNL seven-year contract) and, when asked what happened, Killam gave a confused answer.
"I don't know fully. I don't know the other side of it. You sign for seven years, so I had one more year. I had sort of had it in my head I would make this upcoming year my last year, but then heard they weren't going to pick up my contract. I was never given a reason why, really. I can assume until the cows come home."
Bustle reached out to NBC and was told that the show does not comment on cast departures. A rep for Killam did not have a comment. Pharoah's rep told Bustle, "Jay will always value his SNL family and time spent on the show, but right now, he is focusing on other projects."
David Sims for The Atlantic theorized about Killam's departure by writing, "As is disappointingly common on SNL, the show has a bit of a white-guy logjam to solve — [creator and showrunner Lorne] Michaels may have thought that newer performers like Beck Bennett and Pete Davidson needed more room to develop."
Killam did offer his own reasoning that being let go could have had something to do with a conflict schedule since he has been busy writing, directing, and starring in the film Why We're Killing Gunther (which features Arnold Schwarzenegger and Killam's hilarious and beautiful wife Cobie Smulders no less). "I'll have two months of post-production that would have bled into the SNL production schedule," Killam said to Uproxx.
Why Killam's and Pharoah's seven-year contracts were cut short may remain a mystery, but The Daily Beast reported that unceremonious firings aren't really an oddity for SNL. Killam at least can find some solace knowing that the likes of Adam Sandler and Chris Farley had also dealt with this situation.
Being let go the same year as a presidential election is a big move, especially since Killam had done a decent impression of Donald Trump for SNL last season. Yet, he was replaced as the Donald during Season 41 by former castmate and current announcer Darrell Hammond. (This season, Alec Baldwin will portray Trump in the premiere.) Although Killam being pulled from doing Trump could have been a warning of things to come, it made sense because he was needed to do his smarmy impression of Ted Cruz. But, as I search for answers about Killam's departure, blaming Trump does kind of help. Yet I'm willing to admit that while I can blame Trump for a lot of things, perhaps it's not necessarily fair to credit him for this even if he does make for a nice scapegoat.
No one but the people behind the scenes at SNL know for sure why Killam was fired, but it's not like his comedy career ended with the show. So while this might be a bump in the road for Killam, he's going to be OK. As for his fans, I recommend watching his 2011 writer's room dance to Robyn's "Call Your Girlfriend" to cheer yourselves up.
And, just know that Killam's surely gonna continue to get his groove on even without SNL.
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