NEW YORK, Aug. 9 (UPI) — Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah are departing Saturday Night Live after starring on the famed sketch comedy series for six years.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, who confirmed the news, the duo will not be seen on the show’s upcoming 42nd season to pursue other opportunities.
Pharoah, who is best known for impersonating Jay Z, Will Smith, Eddie Murphy and President Barack Obama, may be leaving SNL in a tight spot as Season 42 starts airing during Obama’s final days in office.
Killam who recently portrayed Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Matthew McConaughey and Donald Trump for a short spell, confirmed in an interview with Uproxx that his departure is due to SNL not picking up the final year on his seven-season contract.
“I had sort of had it in my head I would make this upcoming year my last year, but then heard they weren’t going to pick up my contract,” he said. “I was never given a reason why, really.”
Part of the reason, the comedian believes, is due to his ongoing work on his upcoming directorial debut Why We’re Killing Gunther. The comedy, revealed in May, follows a skilled assassin played by Arnold Schwarzenegger who is being targeted by his peers due to his arrogant attitude.
“I honestly don’t know what happened on the other side, but I do know we had expressed I have work on this film and in bonding this picture, that has to get cleared with SNL,” Killam continued. “My feeling about it is I got my dream job. I set out to be on SNL and I got to do that and I did very well. And I love and adore and will forever have close ties and tight bonds with the brilliant, smartest, funniest people I’ve ever met in my life. So, I have no gripes at all.”
Saturday Night Live head Lorne Michaels is expected to introduce several new cast members to the show next month.