According to The Hollywood Reporter, the five new faces are Beck Bennett, John Milhiser, Kyle Mooney, Mike O'Brien, and Noël Wells. Four of them are performers at the Upright Citizens Brigade, which boasts alumni including Amy Poehler, Aziz Ansari, Ed Helms, Aubrey Plaza, as well as current "SNL" cast members Bobby Moynihan and Kate McKinnon.
The new class represents the most new faces in a single season since 1995, when Will Ferrell, Cheri Oteri, and Darrell Hammond joined.
The audition process, described in a lengthy New York Times article as being like an obstacle course, was a sweeping effort, according to THR sources —"the most public search for talent that I've seen," one said.
Scouts began scouring comedy clubs in the spring, and producers held talent showcases in L.A. and New York in August. Finalists then took the "SNL" stage in front of executive producer Lorne Michaels. Michaels made his decisions after a lengthy interview with potential cast members.
It's a brutal, cutthroat process. As Jay Mohr told the Times, "The odds of getting on 'Saturday Night Live' are zero. You could go to astronaut school, and you can learn how to get in a rocket and go to the moon, but there's no 'getting a stand-up on "Saturday Night Live"' school."
But when the "yes" comes along, it's a life-changing experience.
As Oteri recalled of her and Ferrell's acceptance, "We held each other's hands and walked to the parking lot and then jumped and let out the biggest scream in the world. We stopped at a restaurant and called our dads."
Watch a skit with Ferrell and Oteri:
Here's a look at the new class of Season 39 (with video!):
You probably know Bennett as the guy in the AT&T commercials talking to little kids. Aside from UCB, he's also in a sketch comedy group, Good Neighbor, with Mooney. The last time "SNL" hired members of the same group — the Lonely Island's Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer — it worked out well.
A member of UCB in L.A., Milhiser also performs with the NYC-based group Serious Lunch and runs the Baguette-Me-Nots Tumblr. He also wrote, directed, and starred in this hilarious "Step Up" parody for Lorne Michaels's company.
As mentioned earlier, Mooney is in the group Good Neighbor with Bennett. He's also appeared on "Parks and Recreation" and the short-lived "Sports Show With Norm Macdonald."
O'Brien is the first "SNL" writer to be promoted up to a featured player since Jason Sudeikis. He honed his comedy chops at Chicago's Second City and hosts a popular Web show called "7 Minutes in Heaven," in which he interviews celebrities in a closet.
Wells is a superb impressionist who does killer takes on Zooey Deschanel, Kristen Stewart, and Michele Bachmann. We can totally see Wells taking "Hey! The Zooey Deschanel Show" with her to "SNL."
The 39th season of "Saturday Night Live" premieres Sept. 29 on NBC.