Heidi Gardner and Chris Redd Promoted at SNL

Even though much of the focus on the new season of Saturday Night Live has been about their unfortunate featured player hiring and firing of comedian Shane Gillis, thankfully the late night sketch series is moving on with some much better news.

When the opening credits roll on the 45th season premiere this weekend, there will be a couple changes. Heidi Gardner and Chris Redd are no longer featured players and have been promoted to regular cast members.

Deadline was first to report on Heidi Gardner and Chris Redd being promoted at Saturday Night Live. The two became featured players together at the beginning of the the 43rd season in 2017, and since this will mark their third season on the series, it makes sense that they’re being promoted. It’s common for featured players to become regular cast members after their first two years, or they get cut loose. Some featured players don’t make it that far, like Luke Null, who also joined as a featured player with Redd and Gardner, but didn’t make it beyond his first season. Thankfully, both Gardner and Redd have brought the goods to Saturday Night Live.

It was apparent from the beginning that Gardner was going to be a valuable asset. Not only does she come with some solid impressions like Allison Janney, Kristen Schaal, and Drew Barrymore, but more importantly, she has a solid roster of original characters, many of which have appeared on Weekend Update, such as teen film critic Bailey Gismert, Goop staffter Baskin Johns, or Angel, Every Boxer’s Girlfriend from Every Boxing Movie Ever. But my favorite sketch with Gardner so far has been this Mother’s Day bit with Emma Thompson:

Meanwhile, Chris Redd doesn’t have an extensive array of impressions, though his Kanye West is right on the money. But on SNL, he’s played Jussie Smollett, Mahershala Ali, Soulja Boy, Cory Booker, and Sterling K. Brown. Redd has an everyman presence that works in a lot of sketches too, not unlike Kenan Thompson (albeit a little less goofy). But Redd has really excelled in music video-style sketches featuring original raps, which makes sense after his breakthrough role as Hunter the Hungry in Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. Redd’s best sketch, by far, was this much more realistic take on the opening credits of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air:

As we previously heard, the new featured players on the show will be comedians Chloe Fineman and Bowen Yang. They’ll join SNL in the 45th season premiere this weekend with host Woody Harrelson. We’ll have a full episode review the next morning, so stay tuned.

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