Unsurprisingly, The New ‘SNL’ Cast Members Know Web Video

/ Sep 16, 2013

SNL

NBC and Lorne Michaels’ decades-long comedy institution, “Saturday Night Live,” has officially announced six new cast members: Beck Bennett, John Milhiser, Kyle Mooney, Noel Wells, Brooks Wheelan, and current “SNL” writer Michael Patrick O’Brien.

Each of the cast members have some history with distributing content on YouTube: Noel Wells was signed to Collective Digital Studio, though it’s not clear how this deal affects that relationship. Beck Bennett, who is most recognizable as the dude in those funny AT&T commercials, is a member of the sketch comedy group Good Neighbor, which fellow new cast member Kyle Mooney also belongs to. Good Neighbor’s YouTube channel has 179,000 subscribers. Michael Patrick O’Brien you should recognize, if you know or watch a lot of web video, as the host of “7 Minutes in Heaven,” an interview series which began on Yahoo and has since been made available on Above Average, an independent comedy network from Broadway Video, Lorne Michaels’ production company. That’s not the only time Above Average shows up on the resume of one of the new cast-members as John Milhiser has also starred in content for the network.

None of this should be surprising, as it goes without saying that if you’re trying to make your bones in comedy today, it would be stupid not to be distributing stuff on YouTube. Then again, it doesn’t appear Wheelan, a stand-up comedian, has done much on YouTube, though he has written for CollegeHumor and has ties to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, as do Wells, Milhiser, and O’Brien. In other words, his stand-up as well as stuff he has written is probably available on YouTube (it is!).

More than anything, this points to how at least in comedy the lines between traditional and digital have already blurred. Yes, it still means a lot to a comedian to land a HBO comedy special, but as evidenced by comedians like Aziz Ansari, Louis CK, Russell Peters, and Jim Gaffigan, it’s possible to distribute elsewhere. More than anything, it’s just about being funny, regardless of which platform you find your audience.

Though, TV-supporters could (rightfully) point to the existence and continued importance of “SNL” in comedy circles as proof that TV is not done yet, no matter how many funny videos there are to watch online.

Online video backers could counter by asking how many people watch the full “SNL” show and how many just watch clips online the next day. And the debate between new and old would continue.

After about a month of speculation, the hiring of the six new cast members was confirmed by The New York Times yesterday.

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