In the most recent era of SNL (I am no SNL scholar, so that era is completely made up based on my own perceptions), Weekend Update (a satirical news segment, if you live under a rock) has generally been hosted by two anchors.
You may have heard of these pairs – let me know if they ring any bells. Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon (2000-2004). Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (2004-2006). Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers (2006-2008). Yeah, these co-anchors are going down in comedy history (or at the very least, SNL history). They’re great, Weekend Update is great. Weekend Update is a consistently strong part of SNL; even if sketch after sketch is a flop, Weekend Update will probably still be hilarious.
Weekend Update continued to be hilarious even once Amy Poehler left SNL in 2008 and Seth Meyers started to anchor alone. Personally, I love Seth Meyers as the Weekend Update anchor, and he was great at it even without a partner. SNL added Cecily Strong (who is already a repertory player – they didn’t just bring her on for Weekend Update) for the first half of the 39th season (Fall 2013) to co-anchor with Seth, in preparation for Seth’s departure to host Late Night.
All this is well and good. They brought on Cecily, and as someone who has only been watching since ~2009 or 2010, it was initially kind of weird to have two anchors on Weekend Update when I’d only ever seen Seth anchor. But Cecily grew on me quickly, and I like her as anchor very much.
So why can’t Cecily anchor alone? When Seth left, SNL added featured player Colin Jost as anchor. Now, let me state plainly that I know nothing about the inner workings of SNL and I don’t know how these decisions are made and why. Colin Jost is head writer, which was also a title Seth Meyers held until he left. Jost’s status as a featured player might not matter. Perhaps his status as head writer actually ranks him above Cecily. In fact, that seems likely.
However, the average audience member isn’t going to be looking up the dynamics of who is doing what job on SNL. What the average audience member sees is this: Seth Meyers anchors Weekend Update alone for over five years and does a perfectly good job. Cecily Strong enters. Cecily and Seth make a good, but short-lived team. Seth leaves….and Cecily is given a fresh-faced newbie co-anchor. Why? Clearly, two anchors is not necessary for hilarity to ensue? Seth was hilarious for five+ years, why not give Cecily a shot at it alone? Must a woman be accompanied by a man to be taken seriously, even though it’s a news segment not meant to be taken seriously?!?
I mean, you want to take the Weekend Update anchor somewhat seriously, because their jokes are satirical and sharp in a way that the sketches generally aren’t. The Weekend Update anchor is not the butt of the jokes, they are the deliverer of them. In a sketch, the characters themselves are the joke and the point of the satire, and most, though not all, are focused away from the news. If anything, a sketch might be satirizing specific news anchors, but not the actual news itself (i.e. they just did a sketch poking at Fox & Friends, but the focus was the ridiculousness of Fox, not the actual news they were “reporting” on, which had to do with the Affordable Care Act).
There may be an answer to my question that I am just not privy to. Perhaps Cecily requested a co-anchor. Maybe the response to Seth and Cecily was so strong SNL decided to return to two anchors. Or it was agreed long ago that Colin Jost would follow in Seth’s footsteps and become an anchor once Seth left.
I clearly don’t know. All I’m saying is it would have been cool to see Cecily Strong anchor Weekend Update alone. She’d have been great at it, and it’s clearly a great launch pad for a career after SNL; look at her predecessors (Fallon, Fey, Poehler, Meyers) who are some of the most successful SNL alums out there.