If Saturday Night Live seemed a little less Strong last night, Saturday, October 1, you may have picked up on Cecily Strong’s absence in that Season 48 premiere. Not only was the longtime SNL star MIA in last night’s episode, but she wasn’t listed in the NBC sketch-comedy show’s new opening credits.
So what’s going on? Is SNL losing yet another cast member after this summer’s mass exodus?
No need to worry. Strong is simply starring in a one-woman show in Los Angeles: a production of the play The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe at the Mark Taper Forum. Performances began on September 21 and are slated to run through October 23, after which point Strong will report back to SNL, TVLine reports.
And if that excuse sounds familiar, you may be remembering that Strong missed three episodes of SNL’s 47th season to star in an off-Broadway production of the same show at the beginning of this year.
“Weaving together the seemingly disparate tales of a punk-rock rebel, wealthy Californian socialites, and feminist reactionaries in search of aliens, Emmy Award winner Jane Wagner’s beloved play, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, is a hilarious and timeless play about what makes us human,” Los Angeles’ Center Theatre Group says in its synopsis of the show, for which SNL creator Lorne Michaels is a producer.
Wagner, the writer behind The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life, has actually won three Emmy Awards—all for her TV collaborations with her now-wife Lily Tomlin, the stage show’s original star.
The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe is the latest creative pursuit for Strong, who released the memoir This Will All Be Over Soon and produced and starred in the Apple TV+ musical comedy Schmigadoon! last year.
Between Season 47 and Season 48, Saturday Night Live cast members Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Pete Davidson, Kyle Mooney, Melissa Villaseñor, Alex Moffat, Chris Redd, and Aristotle Athari left the show. In their stead, Marcello Hernandez, Molly Kearney, Michael Longfellow, and Devon Walker joined SNL as featured players.
Returning for Season 48 alongside Cecily, meanwhile, are repertory players Michael Che, Mikey Day, Chloe Fineman, Heidi Gardner, Colin Jost, Ego Nwodim, Kenan Thompson, Bowen Yang, Andrew Dismukes, and Punkie Johnson, and featured players James Austin Johnson, and Sarah Sherman.
Saturday Night Live, Saturdays, 11:30/10:30c, NBC