Rumors have been flying around the Internet regarding the four new players who will join the Saturday Night Live cast when the long-running sketch comedy show returns for its 39th season. Though NBC hasn’t confirmed anything, the “top candidates” to join the iconic series are Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney, Noël Wells, and John Milhiser. These four funnypeople share an important connection: They all built resumes on YouTube before they hit it big.
The selection of Mooney is the best indicator of YouTube’s influence. He and Bennett (who is also known as that guy who talks to the kids in the AT&T commercials) are two thirds of Good Neighbor, a sketch comedy group with more than 177,000 subscribers and nearly 32 million views. Jumping off his group’s success, Mooney has picked up another 116,000 subscribers and 14 million views on his own personal channel. His role as host for Comedy Week live show solidified his status as a full-on YouTuber, and it’s exciting to see a YouTube-famous individual follow in the footsteps of Chase, Murphy, and Ferrell.
Wells also has her own personal channel, where she has scored hundreds of thousands of views with Hey! The Zooey Deschanel Show, where she imitates the famously hip actress. Milhiser, a member of the Serious Lunch sketch group, doesn’t have as big of an online presence, but even he has starred in a few videos on Above Average, the YouTube channel closely affiliated with Lorne Michaels (Mooney and Bennett also starred there as part of Miles Fisher’s ‘Finish What You Started’ music video.)
NBC’s casting choices show a heightened interest in YouTube comedy, and I’d like to think a good majority of the show’s future players will get their start on the Internet. In the same way that Second City and UCB are proving grounds for young comic actors, the road to SNL stardom now runs through Above Average, Funny or Die, CollegeHumor, and other online comedy hubs. There’s never been a more lucrative time to make videos on the Internet–so long as you’re funny.