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Fred Armisen's music career: A pre-'Late Night' primer -- VIDEO

It’s no joke: Comedian Fred Armisen really has joined Seth Meyers’ Late Night as bandleader-slash-music-“curator.” He’ll be helming the talk show’s house band — a talented group that also includes guitarist Seth Jabour of Les Savy Fav, bassist Syd Butler of Les Savy Fav, keyboardist Eli Janney of Girls Against Boys, and drummer Kim Thompson of Beyoncé’s touring band — even when he’s busy with other projects, like IFC’s Portlandia.

For those who know Armisen only as “that weird guy from SNL,” this news may seem more than a little random. But Armisen’s actually got plenty of music industry bona fides — his showbiz career began with a gig as a punk rock drummer, he made his first steady paycheck as a drummer for the Blue Man Group in Chicago, and he’s frequently showed off his multi-instrumental skills on both SNL and Portlandia. So before Armisen picks up his Late Show guitar — he’ll be both strumming and singing for Meyers’ 8G Band — let’s take a look back at his second, slightly more obscure career… which frequently bleeds over into his comedy.

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Melissa McCarthy returns to 'SNL' tonight: Talk about it here!

The first time Melissa McCarthy hosted Saturday Night Live, she was just coming off the enormous success of 2011’s Bridesmaids. The second time she stopped by Studio 8H, she was promoting her then-upcoming Sandra Bullock buddy comedy The Heat. This time around, though, McCarthy has no immediate projects to plug, unless you count her continuing work on CBS’s Mike & Molly. (And really, who does? Memo to Chuck Lorre: Free Melissa!)

That means the show is bringing McCarthy back largely for one reason: Simply put, she’s really great at hosting SNL. In fact, according to you guys, she was the funniest woman who helmed SNL all of last year — and that season’s second-greatest host period, topped only by Justin Timberlake.

So, could this hat trick performance help McCarthy snag the title of Season 39’s Ms. Saturday Night? READ FULL STORY

Seth Meyers: 10 great moments away from the 'Weekend Update' desk

Imminent Late Night host Seth Meyers is known best for two things: Presiding over Saturday Night Live‘s writers’ room since 2005, and expertly anchoring the Weekend Update desk — with Amy Poehler, alone, and with Cecily Strong — since 2006.

What you may not remember, though, is that Meyers originally joined SNL as a featured player way back in 2001, giving him the second longest tenure of any cast member in SNL history. (He’s outstripped only by go-to impressionist Darrell Hammond, who stuck around for 14 seasons.) And though Meyers only really became a household name when he inherited Tina Fey’s Update seat, his 13 years of Saturday Nights also included plenty of memorable work away from the fake news desk. (And that’s not even counting his behind-the-scenes contributions; Meyers was instrumental in crafting SNL‘s wicked take on Sarah Palin, among countless others.)

So before Meyers departs SNL for good this weekend, let’s take a look back at some of his best non-Update sketches — the type of stuff we likely won’t see much of once he makes the leap to Late Night. After all, if you looked that good in a suit, you’d move away from character work too.

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Before the Super Sports Match Show, watch Melissa McCarthy on 'SNL' -- VIDEO

Note to self: When discussing Melissa McCarthy’s return to the Saturday Night Live stage, don’t use the phrase “third time’s the charm.” (It implies that the Oscar nominee’s first two SNL outings weren’t great, which we all know isn’t true.)

Kenan Thompson finds that out the hard way in McCarthy’s latest set of promos, which also feature the goofy duo struggling to light the “Olympic torch,” having some fun with musical guest Imagine Dragons’ name (think Garth and Kat) and explaining that since Sunday’s Super Bowl™ doesn’t air on NBC, the fine folks at SNL have to find something else to call it. Could Saturday’s show end up being even more entertaining than this weekend’s big Televised Man Battle With Ball? Signs point to maybe:

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'Saturday Night Live' recap: Jonah Hill gets a boost from Leonardo DiCaprio

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If you happened to tune in to SNL after Jonah Hill’s monologue, you probably thought it was an uneven mix of sketches with a laugh here and there. If you viewed the show in its entirety like I did, your ride started off with a BANG and slowly lost steam as the episode went along, but not without hitting a few other highs (and lows) along the way. Hill was returning for his third time in the host’s seat (or the Benihana seat), a strong addition to his Actor’s Stat Card, which also now reads, “two-time Academy Award nominee.” The host could hardly mention as much in his monologue before the anticipation started to build: It really seems like they’re building up to a Leo cameo right now. But there’s no way he’ll stop by, right? Are they…? Is he…? And then, there he was in all of his bronzed boyish charm, Leonardo DiCaprio. I gasped. READ FULL STORY

Jonah Hill hosts 'Saturday Night Live' this weekend: Talk about it here!

No disrespect to Jonah Hill, but on some level, his upcoming SNL hat trick raises just one question: Hill is about to host Saturday Night Live for the third time. Yet his Wolf of Wall Street co-star Leonardo DiCaprio hasn’t hosted even once? Even worse, Leo’s never stopped by Studio 8H for so much as a cameo? This is so outrageous I’m starting to feel short of breath. Quick, somebody grab me a quaalude!

Ahhh, there we go. Now, what was I saying? Oh yes — Jonah Hill’s back on SNL this weekend, which means a few things. One, there’s a pretty good chance we’ll see the third recurrence of Adam Grossman, a.k.a. that 6-year-old kid who loves Benihana and talking like a Borscht Belt comedian. (Side note: Man, remember when Casey Wilson was on SNL? Side-side note: Man, 2008 Jonah Hill looked… different.)
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'SNL': Get to know upcoming Weekend Update host Colin Jost

Saturday Night Live‘s “newest addition” isn’t actually a new addition at all. Colin Jost, named today as Seth Meyers’ imminent Weekend Update successor, has been writing for the sketch show since 2005 (shortly after he graduated from Harvard; underachiever) and was named its co-head writer in 2012. True, he’s only appeared on the show a handful of times — in just two sketches, according to IMDB — but that doesn’t mean Jost lacks performing experience: He’s also a seasoned standup comedian who has appeared on stages around the country and on programs including Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and John Oliver’s New York Stand-Up Show.

Want to know more? Of course you do!

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Jonah Hill prepares for an f-bomb-free 'Saturday Night Live' hat trick -- VIDEO

This weekend marks Jonah Hill’s third time hosting SNL — not exactly a milestone worthy of its own lengthy, star-studded sketch, but still something worth noting. (Back when Superbad was released, who’d have thunk Michael Cera would end up with a regular gig on indie comedy staples like Childrens Hospital and Burning Love — while Hill would be the one hosting SNL once every few years and winning Oscar noms in his spare time?)

Hill’s new SNL promos do just that, making much out of his three-peat and, interestingly enough, mentioning the whole Best Supporting Actor thing just once. Maybe they’re saving all their best “two-time Academy Award nominee Jonah Hill” material for Saturday?

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'Saturday Night Live' recap: Mazel tov, Drake (and Sasheer Zamata)!

Even after 38 and a half seasons, SNL still has the capacity to surprise. Yesterday, I assumed that 2014’s first episode would make some noise about new featured player Sasheer Zamata; given the show’s unusually public search for black female talent, fanfare or at least a formal introduction seemed likely.

But in the end, SNL decided to go a more matter-of-fact route: Zamata wasn’t set apart from the rest of the cast. Instead, she was simply and easily integrated into the show, appearing in no fewer than five sketches throughout the episode. And though Sasheer certainly got more screen time than the average featured player — blink and you’ll miss Brooks Wheelan and John Milhiser each week — she was never given the responsibility of carrying an entire sketch, which may have been too much for her very first show. All in all, I’m glad SNL defied my expectations and took a subtler approach; this seems like the best way to gradually end the conversation about Sasheer Zamata, Black Lady Comedian, and move toward a world where she’s just another part of the group.

Another reason SNL was smart not to make the night all about Sasheer (or its other new additions, SNL writers LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones): We got more time to spend with Drake. And Drake was really, really great. Especially in the night’s…

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Drake takes over 'Saturday Night Live' tonight: Talk about it here!

Man, where do we even begin?

This is a pretty big night for SNL. Let us count the ways: It’s the first show of 2014. The first show starring Drake as both host and musical guest, as well as Drake’s first major acting credit since Degrassi (unless you count his voice work in 2012’s Ice Age: Continental Drift). And, perhaps most importantly, it’s also the first show that will feature the work of SNL‘s much-publicized new talent — writers Leslie Jones and LaKendra Tookes, and featured player Sasheer Zamata.

No disrespect to Drake (or Ben Affleck), but that last item is what most people are buzzing about going into tonight’s episode. (Sorry, Aubrey — don’t cry.) SNL will obviously have to address its hunt for black female talent at some point during the evening, most likely during the cold open or the monologue. (What are the odds that Kerry Washington and/or Al Sharpton show up again to comment on the matter?) No matter what happens after that, talk of Jones, Tookes, Zamata, and however the show handles their first week on the job will definitely dominate the conversation about SNL tomorrow.

I’m hoping, though, that even in the midst of all this, Drake himself will get a few moments to shine. After all, he did some pretty great stuff the last time he stopped by the show:

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