Photo: Courtesy of NBC.
Just six months ago, Colin Jost got the biggest break of his life. The co-head writer for Saturday Night Live replaced Seth Meyers on the show's "Weekend Update" segment, joining Cecily Strong behind the iconic desk.
Though Jost joined the show's writing staff in 2005, this is his first on-screen role. And, he's kind of blowing it.
Jost says critics shouldn't give such a negative assessment just yet. “I don’t feel like what I’ve done so far is a full realization of who I am,” he says. “There’s a lot to figure out in the beginning, and your personality starts coming out the more you do it," he told the New York Post.
In other words, he promises to be funnier next season. Though it's an odd strategy to not be as funny as you really are right off the bat, who am I to question a guy who landed a job on America's biggest comedy show right out of college?
Anyone who's seen a handful of Jost's sessions will note there's just something missing. His jokes often fall flat, speaking to a problem in his comedic delivery. His appearance is so entrenched in the white-guy-clean-cut look dominating late-night TV that you could very well have trouble picking him out of a lineup. The result is an imbalanced desk in which he often pales in comparison to Strong, rather than complementing her. (Of course, Jost is used to sitting sidecar to funnier women — he's dating Rashida Jones.)
Photo: Courtesy of NBC.
However, the writer-turned-anchor chalks up his on-screen problem to the slew of new cast members. He's still co-head writing, so he's spending time learning the capabilities of, say, Sasheer Zamata, and creating material for her and others. This has made it hard for him to blossom. “Even when you have two or three [new people], it’s challenging. You want to learn their voices so you can write for [them]. When you have so many people . . . you don’t get as much time to spend with the actors," he told the Post. Except, you'll notice the newer cast members didn't get many starring roles in sketches this past season. So, what gives?
It's not entirely Jost's fault. He's obviously a funny guy, responsible for some hilarious sketch ideas. But, the relative success of "Weekend Update" has relied on natural, on-camera chemistry — think Seth Meyers and Stefon — something he and Strong simply don't seem to have. To be sure, he has large, Meyers-sized shoes to fill. But, these aren't nearly as huge as the shoes Tina Fey and Amy Poehler left behind.
Maybe it's time to try out a female duo once more. Aidy Bryant may be too overpowering a personality for the desk, but Kate McKinnon could work as a Colbert-style news anchor. We haven't seen enough of Noël Wells and Sasheer Zamata to really know their strengths just yet. But, no one can deny the power of Strong and Vanessa Bayer, a combination Lorne Michaels has employed regularly in their retired porn stars routine.