This weekend's episode of Saturday Night Live (SNL) boasted the final new broadcast of the sketch comedy program's most-watched season. Dwayne Johnson hosted the epic finale, which featured Katy Perry as a musical guest and was met with joyously favorable reviews. According to a report from Variety, the end-of-season festivities were somewhat dampened by the loss of three of the show's stars: Vanessa Bayer, Bobby Moynihan, and Sasheer Zamata.
Fans of the long-running comedy show were notified of the departures of Bayer and Moynihan in advance of this weekend's finale. The pair got more than their fair share of screen time in their final appearance, collectively appearing in nearly every single sketch that aired that night. They also brought back beloved characters including Moynihan's "Drunk Uncle" and Bayer's recently-developed, jibberish-talking weather lady Dawn Lazarus.
Bayer, the longest-serving female member of Saturday Night Live's current cast, announced her departure via Instagram with a fittingly silly-but-heartfelt caption thanking the show for seven years of "laughs, love, and incredible memories."The comedic starlet joined the iconic show's cast in 2010 as a featured player before being promoted to the primary cast just two years later. As has been the case with much of SNL's on-screen talent throughout the program's history, the promotion to repertory status brought a surge of attention and airtime for Bayer, who went on to portray a wide variety of characters that became adored by fans of the show throughout her seven-year tenure.
The 35-year-old performer was famous for her recurring characters long before her newly popular portrayal of Dawn Lazarus, the fictional meteorologist, ever came to fruition. Personalities including Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy (famous for his Weekend Update bits) and the highly musical but morbidly socially-conscientious children's television star Laura Parsons, as well as her spot-on impersonations of Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Aniston cemented Bayer's position as one of SNL's most memorable icons.
Bobby Moynihan's departure after nearly a decade brought a similar impact to much of the show's fanbase. The esteemed comedian commemorated his time on the show and final episode with a lighthearted Instagram post as well, also providing a peek at what goes on behind-the-scenes at SNL's legendary studio 8H in Rockefeller Center.Moynihan himself was no stranger to beloved recurring characters in his time on the program, making himself a consistent figure on Weekend Update through roles including Secondhand News Correspondent Anthony Crispino and Drunk Uncle. Moynihan also branched out through portrayals of impersonations including reality star Snooki and celebrity chef Guy Fieri, which warmed the hearts of fans of the late-night show for years.
While Bayer left at the end of a seven-year contract, and Moynihan allegedly departed from the show on his own terms as well, the circumstances surrounding the end of Sasheer Zamata's time on the show appears to be shrouded in mystery. No previous announcement, either from the show or Zamata herself, had been released prior to the young talent's final episode.
Zamata, who was famous for her impersonations of Michelle Obama, Rihanna, Lupita N'yongo, and Beyonce Knowles, was initially brought to Saturday Night Live's cast in 2014 amidst criticisms that the show's lineup lacked a diverse representation of comedians of a variety of backgrounds.
The slightly-delayed news that she would not be returning as a cast member for Season 43 broke quietly on the day following her final episode. The gifted performer celebrated four seasons on the show, during which she rose to fame as a beloved fresh face in the stand-up comedy community as well.
[Featured Image via NBC/Comcast]