Jay Pharoah’s Dream ‘Saturday Night Live’ Weekend Update Host Is Anthony Jeselnik
You thought Norm Macdonald pissed off NBC executives? If former Saturday Night Live star Jay Pharoah had his way, Weekend Update would be anchored by a comic with a much higher offense-per-punchline ratio: Anthony Jeselnik.
Jeselnik was just one member of Pharoah’s surprising SNL fantasy team, an eclectic roster he revealed this week on the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast. “Give me your SNL dream cast — seven people and one person to do Update,” asked host Scott Aukerman. While other SNL cast members might have been hesitant to play favorites, Pharoah was happy to play the game.
“OK, I gotta put Eddie Murphy in there,” he began. “I gotta put Julia Louis-Dreyfus in there,” a somewhat surprising choice only because JLD didn’t hit her comic stride until after she was an SNL cast member. “Got to keep Kenan in there. Got to put Bobby Moynihan in there.”
That’s four. But then Aukerman threw out another challenge — how about people who have not been cast members on SNL? (In theory, this would give funny people like, say, Scott Aukerman a chance, though he didn’t make Pharoah’s list.) First up? Jason Segel. “He’s great,” says Pharoah. “He’d really fit into that show.”
“Miles Teller!” was Pharoah’s next candidate, citing the actor’s successful hosting stint earlier this season.
As for Update? “I'd have Anthony Jeselnik,” says Pharoah, professing his love for the comic before breaking into a killer Jeselnik impression. “Yeah, sure, I'll do Update. Update’s my thing. I’d do Update.” (It’s funnier if you hear it in Jeselnik’s nasal Pittsburgh grunt -- check it out on the podcast, as well as Pharoah’s jaw-droppingly accurate Robert Downey Jr.)
Like many cast members, Pharoah has mixed feelings about his SNL days, a combination of gratitude and the sensation that opportunities were missed. For example? “I was texting Lorne Michaels,” he says. “Christmas, we were going back and forth, riffing for … it had to be two and a half hours and we were trying to outbid each other. It was like ‘where was this guy when I was on the show? The guy that's responding to my texting and playing with me?’”
In hindsight, Pharoah admits, Michaels did try to establish that kind of playful relationship while he was on the show. “But man, I was so young.”
Aukerman confessed to a similar experience with his comedy mentors. “I think it's a common thing,” said the host. “I was very young when I was on Mr. Show. After the show was done, (David Cross and I) went to a bar and had a really nice conversation. (Cross) was like ‘why didn't we do this while you were working on the show?’ It's just one of those things — you're young, you want to prove yourself and you’re looking for affirmation.”
Pharoah agreed about his younger self, an introverted stand-up comic not used to working in a group. “You don't go with the flow.” But if Pharoah became the producer of SNL now? We’re pretty sure he and Jeselnik would have a pretty awesome text string going.