Goodbye Stefon: Who is SNL’s Next Bill Hader?

Disappointing (yet expected) news today as Bill Hader announced his imminent departure from Saturday Night Live. This is arguably bigger than the Kristen Wiig departure, because—let’s be real here—Hader was known for SNL, and even earned an Emmy nomination for Best Actor during his time on the show. Wiig rose to fame after Bridesmaids. This isn’t to belittle Wiig’s SNL career. Far from it; she was (and is) an amazing, talented comedienne.

However, Hader’s role as comedic everyman will be harder to fill. Over the past eight years, Hader has been the go-to guy for just about every role they can throw at him. His voice talents second-to-none, Hader inhabits characters like no other, willing to do whatever the sketch asks of him, whether that means a starring or supporting role.

So who is primed to take over Hader’s role of everyman? Let’s take a look at the candidates:

Honorable Mention: Bobby Moynihan

This Weekend Update staple is incredibly versatile, using his “Moynihands” to bring life to unique, memorable characters like Drunk Uncle, and impressing us with hilarious portrayals of Kim Jong Un and Snooki. Only problem: as long as he’s heavy-set, Moynihan will never be able to host a game show, or more importantly, play a “leading” handsome-man type role. Moynihans talent earns him an honorable mention, but as much as I hate to say it, his body type limits his ceiling.


Dark Horse: Kate McKinnon

Kate McKinnon has already found a spot on Weekend Update, thanks to her delightfully weird impressions. The knock I have on McKinnon is that she’s failed to show an ability to play “the straight man,” an ability that Hader had in spades. Even when playing a supporting role, like in “Roundball Rock,” McKinnon’s attempted straight delivery still carries hints of strangeness. If she can iron that out, McKinnon has the potential to be the most versatile performer in the ensemble, especially because when it comes to the “weird” department, no one is going to beat Kate McKinnon.


Strong Potential: Cecily Strong

Now we’re getting into the true contenders. I’ll start with Cecily Strong, who you may know as “The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation with at a Party.” Cecily has both the looks and versatility to play a multitude of roles, including straight man. She’s absolutely phenomenal, killing it in both starring and supporting roles. If she can add impressions to her comedic arsenal, she’ll be the ultimate 5-tool player for SNL.


Stronger Potential: Taran Killam

Also in the running for most versatile star is Taran Killam, funnyman husband of HIMYM favorite Cobie Smulders, and owner of the creepiest grin on the planet.

But don’t let his celebrity wife fool you-they are in a true marriage of equals, as Taran carries a very strong chance of claiming the SNL everyman throne. While he still needs to create a Weekend Update staple, Killam has already proven that he can handle a huge range of sketch roles: TV show host, political correspondent, lab dummy gone wrong (seen above), and impressionist (he does a mean Michael Cera). If he can find a regular spot as a guest on the Update desk, Killam may very well be next in line as SNL’s swiss army knife. Oh, and have I mentioned he does an amazing Gay Prince Charming?


The Favorite: Vanessa Bayer

Yet for all the strengths of our other contenders, I’m going with what many will see as an untraditional, unexpected pick for the title of most versatile SNL’er: Vanessa Bayer. Those of you who watch SNL may be saying, “Her? Really? She doesn’t do anything.” Wrong. All wrong. Bayer has shown that she has the ability to do nearly everything that Bill Hader does for Saturday Night, aside from his voice ability, which honestly is impossible to mimic (Jay Pharaoh possibly could, but he’s a mediocre performer at best, and definitely not a leading man).

She has already found her Weekend Update staple as Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy, does phenomenal physical/character comedy as Brookie’s friend in the Porn Star Sketch (with Cecily Strong, above), delivers spot-on political humor in Fox & Friends, and has proven willing to use her impeccable timing as a straight man, as we saw in the Justin Timberlake sketch “It’s a Date.” A few years from now, Vanessa Bayer could very well be the cast member we are bidding a fond farewell to as SNL’s jack-of-all-trades.


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