Welcome, Pete Davidson! Everything You Need to Know About 'Saturday Night Live's' Newest Cast Changes

Pete Davidson / Michael Che (Getty Images, NBC)
Pete Davidson / Michael Che (Getty Images, NBC)

Saturday Night Live continues to get a little nip-tuck for its 40th birthday.

On Monday, NBC announced via Twitter a second new addition to the cast this season, with Pete Davidson coming aboard as a featured player.

Davidson, a comedian from Staten Island, was discovered by Nick Cannon two years ago and has appeared on the revival of Cannon's Wild 'N Out and MTV2's Guy Code, as well as on Fox's Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He began doing comedy as a "therapeutic outlet" after his father — a New York City firefighter — died on 9/11. Before joining SNL, Davidson had a talent holding deal with Fox, which had cast him in the pilot Sober Companion that ended up not being picked up to series.

Jimmy Kimmel had Davidson on his show to do stand-up back in April.

At 20, Davidson will be among the youngest-ever members of the SNL ensemble: Eddie Murphy was 19 when he joined in 1980. Anthony Michael Hall was 17 and Robert Downey Jr. was 20 when they signed up in 1985. And Abby Elliott was 21 when she was recruited in 2008.

The show also announced Monday that Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney, and Sasheer Zamata would return as featured players. Mike O'Brien, who graduated from the writers' room to be a featured player last year, will reportedly return full time to the writers' room this year, although his picture remained on the show's "About" page as of Monday morning.

Last week, producers said that former SNL writer Michael Che — who put in a stint as an on-air correspondent for The Daily Show this summer — would join head writer Colin Jost on the Weekend Update desk this season, with former co-host Cecily Strong returning to full-time cast status.

Although some critics saw this as a demotion, Strong responded on Instagram by posting a pic of herself with her dog and a very long photo caption:

"I don't see this as me leaving update, just as me being on update in a looser, goofier way that is a lot more fun for me and in a way I think I'm better at," she wrote, continuing, "And now I get to do features with the very funny and wonderful Michael Che! No point in being angry or sad for me for something I'm genuinely happy about! Unless you are just a person who enjoys being angry or sad. Then I guess play on, playa. Also, I danced too hard last night so now I am wearing a hot pad on my neck. Be angry and sad for me about my dumbass neck."

Bennett, Mooney, Zamata, and Strong (NBC)
Bennett, Mooney, Zamata, and Strong (NBC)

The additions of Che and Davidson to the cast helps to continue to solve SNL's perceived diversity problem from Season 39. The process began with the hiring of three black female talents midseason last year — Zamata and writers LeKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones. The show had taken some criticism for hiring six new white actors at the beginning of Season 39, while the show had not had a black woman in the cast since Maya Rudolph left in 2007.

The makeover began back in July, when SNL declined to pick up the contracts of featured players Brooks Whelan, Noël Wells, and John Milhiser after their one-season runs. Veteran Nasim Pedrad left the cast to join former SNL writer John Mulaney's new self-titled sitcom at Fox, which is being executive produced by SNL producer Lorne Michaels. Former head writer and Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers also left the cast midway through last season to take over NBC's Late Night.

Saturday Night Live kicks off its 40th anniversary season on Sept. 27 with host Chris Pratt and musical guest Ariana Grande. On Oct. 4, former cast member Sarah Silverman hosts with musical guest Maroon 5.