“Saturday Night Live’s” final show of 2022 doubles as a farewell for Cecily Strong, who exits midway through her 11th season and as one of the longest-tenured female cast members.
The show announced her departure on Twitter before Saturday’s broadcast, saying “Tonight we send off one of the best to ever do it. We’ll miss you, Cecily!”
Amid speculation that she would leave before the start of the 48th season, Strong stayed on. Cohorts Kate McKinnon, Pete Davidson, Aidy Bryant, Kyle Mooney, Melissa Villaseñor left and made room for a wave of new hires and a year of rebuilding.
Strong debuted on the show in 2012 and briefly established herself as indispensable, co-anchoring “Weekend Update” and gracing Studio 8H with impressions of Dianne Feinstein, Melania Trump and news anchor Brooke Baldwin.
The secret of his impressions was sharpness, achieved by exaggerating voices and characters almost to the point of absurdity. His skills were seen in a cute impression of Fox News personality Jeanine Pirro, who played as an alcohol-addicted jerk who had a crush on former President Donald Trump.
The same touch was seen in Strong’s recreation of Sofia Vergara, complete with an ultra-high accent and giant gestures, and played by Marjorie Taylor Greene as a savant whose voice was more convincing than her facts.
Her original characters on the show included Cathy Anne, “Weekend Update” anchor Michael Che’s chain-smoking neighbor, whom she reprized in the Saturday Goodbye sketch.
In the sketch’s narrative, Cathy Anne is taking a vacation because she is going to prison.
Kathie Anne said, “Actually, I’m a little emo here tonight because the truth is I’m here to say goodbye.”
He explained in detail what landed him behind bars – “The crimes I have confessed to you here for the past seven years have finally caught up with me.”
But Cathy Anne wasn’t too worried.
“I’ve got friends on the inside,” she said, as a picture of McKinnon and Bryant in orange jumpsuits appeared on the screen. “Looks like they’re doing okay.”
Strong’s character couldn’t help but say that she “spent so many of the best moments of my life in this place, with these people that I love so much.”
She performed in a final sketch set in a Radio Shack, where Kenan Thompson broke down in tears at Strong’s character’s exit.
“She would have a power and joy to her performance that reminded you why you … loved working at Radio Shack,” he said.
The cast, including host Austin Butler, then performed a rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas”.
Some of Strong’s other notable characters include The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party, a version that everyone knows; Heather, a spot-on one-dimensional female character from a male-driven comedy; and Sharon, a staple of McKinnon’s sketches about intimate encounters with space aliens that always end sexually.
Strong, 38, grew up in Oak Park, Illinois, as the product of divorced parents. Strong has stated that he was expelled from high school after marijuana was found in his backpack.
She ended up at the renowned Chicago Theater and School of Improvisation Second City, where she was an understudy in its mainstage and a member of its national touring company.
“SNL” creator Lorne Michaels has tapped Second City talent since the show’s first season, and told The New York Times last year that Strong was part of Chicago’s strong tradition of producing outstanding comedy talent.
“Chicago sees both coasts and is not very impressed,” he said.
Strong came in one season after McKinnon, one of the show’s all-time greats, and the pair, along with Bryant, took the baton from Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who left the last decade as one of “SNL’s” greatest. era in the making, often driven by women artists.
While Strong’s characters were almost always loud and almost never obscure, she described herself as shy and introverted, and her own personality was largely unexplored until last year.
In his 2021 book, “This Will All Be Over Soon: A Memoir”, Strong wrote about his cousin’s death from brain cancer in early 2020, according to his summary.
The journal-style book reflected on an unlikely relationship that began in 2020 during the isolation of the darkest days of the pandemic. During this time she also mourned the loss of “SNL” music producer Hal Willner, who died from complications related to the virus.
On Saturday, Strong appeared in the cold open as Kimberly Guilfoyle, Republican operative and fiancée of Donald Trump Jr. Piggybacking on Thursday’s introduction of former President Donald Trump’s NFT trading cards in various, fleshy and superhero-style poses, Guilfoyle hawked music.
“Nobody calls it music anymore!” character announced. “I guarantee, ‘You’ll sleep in heavenly peace!'”
With his departure from “SNL,” Strong will have plenty of places to continue bringing his comedy to life: He’s worked in film (including the 2016 “Ghostbusters” reboot), and television outside of sketch comedy. (Apple TV+’s “Schmigadoon!” on which he is credited as a producer).
“Saturday Night Live” and NBC News are all NBCUniversal entities.