On Tuesday, Saturday Night Live announced that it would be hiring not only one, but two cast members from the Chicago comedy scene—in addition to two local writers.
Chris Redd of Second City and Luke Null of iO Theater (along with Heidi Gardner of the Groundlings in L.A.) will be included in this upcoming season. Since the departure of Bobby Moynihan, Vanessa Bayer, and Sasheer Zamata at the conclusion of last season, auditions were held in cities over the summer to find new blood—with Chicagoan talent at the top of the list.
Of the three, Redd is probably the best-known; there were rumors circling last year that he had been cast on SNL for the 2016-17 season, but they came to no avail. So the Chicago native wasn’t a surprising choice this time around. After the announcement, he told the Chicago Tribune that he originally wanted to be a rapper and then decided to take a Second City class after seeing an ad for the theater. He continued on to perform at iO and the Annoyance.
His career really took off in 2016 when Redd played Hunter the Hungry—Andy Samberg’s ultimate rival — in the Lonely Island’s mockumentary comedy film Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. From then on, the Chicago comedian made appearances in Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later, Love, and most recently, the premiere season of Netflix’s Disjointed.
Originally from Ohio, Luke Null is known for his improv and sketch work in the Chicago comedy community, specifically with the musical comedy troupe, The Deltones, at iO Theater and his video sketch team, the Newport Hounds. A couple of his character bits include political personas such as the young college Republican who becomes too self-aware of his own politics and Null’s musical take on the 2016 election: “Clay Aiken shoulda won Season 2 of American Idol.”
Along with these Chicago alums, Gary Richardson of the all African-American improv team 3Peat at iO, and Steven Castillo, also of iO, will be joining SNL as writers. The season debuts this Saturday with host Ryan Gosling and musical guest Jay-Z.