This year’s Christmas episode of “Saturday Night Live” doubled as an emotional send-off for cast member Cecily Strong, who revealed she won’t be returning when the show returns in January.
Hosted by Austin Butler with musical guest Lizzo, Saturday’s show included multiple moments dedicated to Strong, who said goodbye in the middle of its 11th season. Strong announced his impending departure during a “Weekend Update” segment, in character as the chaotic Cathy Anne.
“Actually, I’m kind of emo tonight because I’m actually here to say goodbye,” Strong’s Cathy Anne told “Weekend Update” co-host Michael Che.
When asked where he was going, Strong quipped: “Turns out it’s prison! All the drugs I confessed to you here for the last seven years finally caught up with me.”
As the segment progressed, Strong began to break character and hold back tears as he reminisced about his time on the sketch comedy series.
“Listen, everyone has to go to jail at some point, right? Now is my time,” she continued. “But I had a lot of fun here. And I feel very lucky to have had many of the best moments of my life in this place with these people.
… Another major drug addict once said, ‘There’s no place like home.’ And there’s no home like the place where I’ve come to scream outside Michael Che’s window. Don’t be sad because, remember, ‘I did it high, Che!’”
Later in the show, long-time cast member Kenan Thompson played the manager of a RadioShack store, giving a heartfelt farewell to an employee named Cecily.
“As some of you know, this is Cecily’s last day at RadioShack after eight incredible years,” Thompson said at the top of the sketch, which was clearly not about RadioShack.
“I’ve been here 11,” Strong said, to which Thompson jokingly replied: “I know. And eight of them were amazing.”
In a more candid tone, Thompson continued: “Honestly, I don’t think RadioShack would have survived this long without Cecily. Every time she came to work, she had a new character, a new accent, or a new impression that would blow your mind. She would have a power and a joy in her acting that would remind you why you loved working on Radio Shack first. I know I’m not supposed to say this as your boss, but I love you Cecily.”
“I love you too, Mr. Frank Lasagna,” Strong joked through tears.
After delivering his personal tribute, Thompson revealed that RadioShack had booked a “special guest” for his Christmas party. He joins “Elvis” star Butler as “the casual Elvis,” who led a singing cast of “Blue Christmas” dedicated to Strong on the Studio 8H stage.
During her tenure on “SNL,” Strong played several fan-favorite characters from “Weekend Update,” from Cathy Anne to the girl you wish you hadn’t started a conversation with at a party, and performed impersonations. memorable moments from Judge Jeanine Pirro, Senator Dianne. Feinstein, former first lady Melania Trump and other personalities.
The Oak Park, Ill.-based comedian, who received back-to-back Emmy nominations for her work on “SNL” in 2020 and 2021, also co-hosted “Weekend Update” alongside Seth Meyers and Colin Jost.
Strong was also known for her ability to deftly tackle heavy topics through humor on national television. Last year, for example, the sitcom star made a powerful statement about abortion rights in character as Goober the Clown on “Weekend Update.” The featured segment has amassed 1.6 million views on YouTube.
“This is my truth,” Strong said during the segment.
“I wouldn’t be a clown on TV here today if it wasn’t for the abortion I had the day before my 23rd birthday. The clowns have been helping each other end their pregnancies since the caves. It will happen. Therefore, it must be safe, legal and accessible. We will not return to the alley. I mean, the last thing anyone wants is a bunch of dead clowns in a dark alley.
Strong is the latest cast member to leave “SNL” following the notable departures of Pete Davidson, Kate McKinnon, Chris Redd, Aidy Bryant, Melissa Villaseñor and more.