Jay Pharoah Has A Bright Future After 'SNL'

by Caitlin Flynn

I'm always psyched for Saturday Night Live's return, but this season should be particularly interesting. The show is often at its best during election years (Tina Fey's impression of Sarah Palin will honestly never get old, am I right?) And, although Obama is preparing to leave office, he's been hitting the campaign trail with a vengeance for Hillary Clinton — so I assumed we'd see a revival of Jay Pharoah's Obama impersonation at some point. However, it turns out the comedian won't return to the show, and I'm left wondering why Jay Pharoah left Saturday Night Live.

Although it appears that Pharoah didn't receive an offer to return for the show's 42nd season, he hasn't officially confirmed the reason for his departure. His rep did tell Bustle, "Jay will always value his SNL family and time spent on the show, but right now, he is focusing on other projects."

According to an August report from Variety, he was cut from the cast along with Taran Killam and Jon Rudnitsky. In an interview with Uproxx, Killam confirmed that he wasn't leaving Saturday Night Live voluntarily and expressed disappointment that his time on the show was coming to an end. Pharoah has been slightly less forthcoming about why he's leaving Saturday Night Live after six seasons. On the MTV Video Music Awards red carpet in late August, he told Vanity Fair, “Listen, man, transitions happen at the show... That’s how it happens and I’m just looking forward to getting on White Famous. That’s what I’m on now.”

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.

Although we'll miss him on Saturday Night Live, we haven't seen the last of Pharoah — as he told Vanity Fair, he already has a great gig lined up. White Famous, a Showtime scripted comedy produced by Jamie Foxx, doesn't have a premiere date set, but Deadline has confirmed that Pharoah will be the show's star. So, regardless of who ultimately made the decision about his Saturday Night Live departure, we can rest assured that Pharoah's career will continue to thrive.

Of course, that doesn't make it easy to see him leave the show — so let's take a look back at some of Pharoah's funniest Saturday Night Live sketches.

1. The 2015 GOP Debate Cold Open

Although he was best known for playing Obama, Pharoah also did a spot-on imitation of a politician who couldn't possibly be more different than our president. His impression of Ben Carson throughout the GOP primaries was always a highlight of the debate sketches.

2. "The Fight Of The Century"

How could Saturday Night Live possibly compete with the boxing match of the century? By staging their own, of course. The narrator quipped that even cast members had left the studio to watch the actual Mayweather-Pacquiao match — but, personally, I stuck around for Pharoah's hilarious portrayal of Mayweather and I have zero regrets about this decision.

3. "The Rock Obama"

Pharoah certainly perfected his impersonation of Obama during his time on Saturday Night Live, from his facial expressions to his calm manner of speaking. But, in the world of comedy, even Obama has his limits of how much he can take from the likes of John Boehner, Ted Cruz, and Tom Cotton.

4. "Black Jeopardy With Drake"

Every time Pharoah came on screen as Drake, I basically jumped for joy — and his talents are on full display in this edition of "Black Jeopardy."

5. "Weekend Update: Jay Pharoah On Katt Williams And Kevin Hart's Feud"

How did Katt Williams and Kevin Hart resolve their feud? Let Pharoah explain it to you while he rapidly switches from one impersonation to the next without missing a beat.

Pharoah will be sorely missed — but, like many of his other fans, I'm eager to watch White Famous and see the other awesome gigs he'll inevitably land.