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Michael Che: 5 things to know

Note: NBC revealed on Sept. 11 that Michael Che is headed to Saturday Night Live‘s Weekend Update desk when the series’ 40th season premieres on Sept. 27. Learn more about Che’s background in the post below, originally published April 28.

Who is Michael Che, The Daily Show‘s latest recruit? First and foremost, he’s a prolific workhorse of a standup known for performing in New York City comedy clubs seven nights a week, often in multiple venues each night. Secondly, he’s a writer for SNL whose work includes “12 Days Not a Slave” and that weird sketch where Zach Galifianakis plays a racist M&M. Thirdly, he’s a rising star who recently snagged a role in Chris Rock’s upcoming film Finally Famous, which sort of sounds like Rock’s take on Funny People. (Update: The movie is now called Top Five; it sparked a bidding war at the Toronto International Film Festival, eventually getting acquired by Paramount.)

But important as these tidbits may be, they’re also just lines on Che’s resume — and they don’t say much about what we might expect from him once he makes the leap from NBC to Comedy Central. Maybe these fun facts will be a little more revealing:

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Seth Rogen hosts 'Saturday Night Live' this weekend: Talk about it here!

You know what’s weird? Though tonight marks Seth Rogen’s third stint as SNL host, I realized before writing this post that I couldn’t remember a single sketch he’d done during either of his previous turns. Maybe that’s because it’s been a surprisingly long time since Rogen graced the SNL stage; the last time he was on, he was promoting 2009′s Observe and Report. (The first time he hosted was another era altogether; the 2007 episode featured jabs at Kevin Federline, Senator Larry Craig, and multiple MacGruber sketches.)

More likely, though, it’s because Rogen’s hosting style isn’t particularly flashy. In movies, he gravitates toward genial, laid-back sensitive bro types; in his past stints on SNL, he’s done much of the same, give or take a pair of Muppets sketches that had him donning a big, furry suit. (Dear Internet: Why is “Muppets Hit & Run” not available anywhere online? This is a travesty!) Rogen isn’t much of an impressionist, or an insanely energetic, up-for-anything quintuple threat type — he’s more of a Jason Sudeikis-esque everyguy, but nerdier and schlubier and more likely to talk about being Jewish. (And he’s hosting just in time for Passover — what a mensch.)

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'Saturday Night Live' best host poll: Anna Kendrick's episode sings -- VOTE

Having great vocal range typically implies an ability to sing in a variety of octaves. I’ll take it on faith that Anna Kendrick, who hosted Saturday Night Live this weekend, has that gift to a certain degree. But I’m more impressed by Kendrick’s other musical range: the ability to sing a G-rated version of a beloved Disney princess tune and a raunchy ditty that includes the lyric, “Each dong is like a snowflake.”

Kendrick’s show emphasized her singing background — not a bad way to go for the Pitch Perfect star. Perhaps the show was short on laugh-out-loud moments, but it still was a fine showcase for the actress. It will be interesting to see if the voters reward her in this week’s Mr. Saturday Night poll.

Last week’s host, Louis C.K., made an impression and pushed Jimmy Fallon out of the top spot, with 33.1 percent. Fallon dipped 12 points to 30.0 percent but remains a strong second. It seems nothing can deter Josh Hutcherson‘s fans, as his bloc remains solid with 22.9 percent. That’s up two points from last week. Melissa McCarthy narrowly dodged elimination for a third straight week, even though her support slipped from 13.5 to 10.4 percent. Lena Dunham got the hook instead after her numbers plummeted from 19.4 to 3.7 percent. READ FULL STORY

Anna Kendrick hosts 'Saturday Night Live' this weekend: Talk about it here!

Get ready for SNL: The Musical.

The host: Anna Kendrick, who snagged an Oscar nomination for Up in the Air but is probably known best for crooning without accompaniment — unless you count a little cup percussion — in Pitch Perfect. Sondheim-lovers of a certain age may also remember the actress’ film debut as Fritzi, the most conniving girl at theater camp – and real Kendraholics know that even before that, at the age of 12, Kendrick was nominated for a Tony for her work in Broadway’s High Society (a musical adaptation of The Philadelphia Story).

Long story short: The lady can and will be singing tonight, maybe just in her monologue, possibly from the moment the cold open begins all the way to the end credits.

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'Saturday Night Live' recap: Louis C.K. does his thing

It’s too bad the Polar Vortex doesn’t inspire the same creativity as Hurricane Sandy.

When Louis C.K. first hosted SNL in 2012, his debut was nearly ruined by devastating weather. Against all odds, the show went on anyway — and it ended up being one of that fall’s more successful episodes. Although Saturday’s weather (in New York City, anyway) echoed 2012′s cold, rainy November, the show wasn’t quite as on point this time around. C.K. acquitted himself fairly well, minus a few flubbed lines and character breaks. That said, he only really let loose in his opening monologue, perhaps because it’s the only opportunity he had to do what he really does best.

So the show wasn’t great across the board — but it did have a few gems, including the night’s…

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Louis C.K. hosts 'Saturday Night Live' this weekend: Talk about it here!

Eighteen months (and two days) ago, FX aired the final episode of Louie‘s third season. In the long, long period since that day, comedy auteur Louis C.K. has kept himself fairly busy, what with all the touring and stand-up specials and late-night guest appearances and roles in critically acclaimed movies like Blue Jasmine and American Hustle – and, of course, filming/writing/directing/key gripping the fourth season of Louie, which will finally premiere on FX May 5. (And what a return it’ll be: FX will air two episodes weekly for seven weeks, meaning the majority of the season will have aired before the eligibility deadline for the 2014 Emmys.)

That said, it’s been a while since Louis has had a sustained comedy showcase on TV in general, much less a major network; his last turn as Saturday Night Live host came back in 2012 (and was nearly derailed by Hurricane Sandy). What can we expect from his glorious return this weekend?

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Louis C.K's 'SNL' promos: What does the 'C.K.' stand for, anyway? -- VIDEO

In actuality, the grumpy genius’s stage name is a phonetic approximation of his given last name, Szekely. (The more you know!) In the world of these new Saturday Night Live promos, though, Kenan Thompson assumes that C and K stand for something incredibly gross — so gross, in fact, that we’re not actually privy to hearing his guess.

That’s kind of how the promos go: Kenan says something off-the-wall, Louis reacts with polished straight-man verve. The gags are loose and improvised, if not exactly laugh-out-loud funny — which bodes well for C.K.’s second time on the SNL stage. (Well, as long as he doesn’t waste too much of the week enjoying herbal refreshments with Kenan.)

Check out the clip for yourself below:

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'Late Night with Seth Meyers' to feature 'SNL' skits that didn't make the cut

Like his predecessor, Seth Meyers is honing in on his SNL background to give Late Night (and its audience) a little something special. In Tuesday night’s interview with fellow SNL alum Jason Sudeikis, Meyers announced that the show will introduce “Second Chance Theater,” a segment that would highlight some of the strangest sketches that didn’t make the cut for the SNL stage.

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'SNL' recap: Lena Dunham is just a girl, standing in front of an audience, asking them to like her

So, how did Lena Dunham do in her inaugural episode of Saturday Night Live? It depends who you’re asking.

Those who are generally into Dunham’s work were probably amused on the whole, even if they also wished Lena had broken out of her comfort zone a little more. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dunham played a bunch of girls — immature, fast-talking, hyperbole-happy variations on her HBO persona — and one serviceable Liza Minnelli.) But if you’re one of those people who can’t stand cable’s wunderkind — here I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume that dislike has nothing to do with Dunham’s looks – your feelings likely weren’t swayed by Lena’s SNL performance, since it hewed so closely to what she does weekly on Girls.

Since I’m in the former camp, I’ll give the episode a tempered thumbs up. While SNL‘s writers’ room is clearly still suffering from growing pains in the wake of Seth Meyers’s exit — someone has to, like, remind them that sketches are supposed to have jokes — last night’s show was, pound for pound, stronger than March 1′s Jim Parsons Experience. And it packed in a few  solid laughs, particularly in the night’s…

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Lena Dunham hosts 'Saturday Night Live' this weekend: Talk about it here!

Girls is smart, well-made, thought-provoking, and very entertaining — provided you’re in the right mindset and/or have a high tolerance for watching selfish people go about their lives. That said, Lena Dunham’s adventure in auteurism isn’t exactly a laugh-out-loud sort of show — and really never has been, barring a few notable exceptions (Shoshanna on crack; Hannah and Elijah on coke; suddenly I’m sensing a pattern). I like to describe Broad City as “Girls, but funny” — which is probably why I like Broad City a whole lot more than I like Girls.

Despite all this, I’ve still got high hopes for Lena Dunham’s first episode as host of Saturday Night Live. Why? Because while Girls isn’t funny, Dunham herself is; I’ve got no doubt that when she decides to make a pure comedy, she’ll end up creating something great. And perhaps more importantly, Dunham is an experienced writer with a fully developed voice, which is just what SNL needs right now.

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