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Michael Che named new 'Saturday Night Live' 'Weekend Update' anchor

Michael Che, former

Michael Che, former "SNL" writer and correspondent with "The Daily Show," will be co-anchor of "Saturday Night Live's" "Weekend Update." Credit: NBC / Peter Kramer

Michael Che was named "Saturday Night Live" "Weekend Update" on Thursday, and -- just like that -- he's about to become one of the most famous comics in the world.

But who is he? Where did he come from? And how did this happen so suddenly?

Che replaces Cecily Strong, in the role only one season, who, according to The New York Times (through which the appointment was announced late Thursday), wished to devote herself full time to performing.

Of note, Che, who is 31, becomes the first African-American as "Weekend Update" anchor (he'll share the desk with Colin Jost). Last season, the show addressed criticism about lack of cast diversity -- particularly, black repertory female players and cast members -- by hiring one: Sasheer Zamata.

So on to Michael.

Who is Che? Full name, or at least birth name, Michael Che Campbell. He's Well-known and very successful on the New York comedy club circuit, he's got a rep for maintaining a marathon work ethic while exuding a "laid-back" — favored word of profiles — style. "Overnight sensation" is another favorite term, followed quickly by a modification — "not really overnight at all."

Che, as mentioned, has renown among those who know the comedy world, and was featured in a major New York Times takeout in 2012 by Megan Angelo, who wrote: " ... Mr. Che has been honing a reflective, laid-back stage presence with jokes that draw as much from his city upbringing — the tale of a neighborhood friend nicknamed Homeless Dave typically draws big laughs — as from blunt, insightful points that bring the abstract into focus, like a bit on why “like” is better than “love”: “People kill their loved ones all the time. Nobody ever kills people they like, though. Nobody’s watching you sleep through your bedroom window because you’re ‘pretty cool.’”

And just for added emphasis, he was named the "50 Funniest People" by Rolling Stone magazine in January 2013, as well Buzzfeed's "50 Hottest Men in Comedy" and Variety's "Top 10 Comics To Watch." That's right — well-known.

Where's he from? Lives in Queens now. Raised on the Lower East Side. Got into comedy in 2009.

What are his ties to "Saturday Night Live?" Was hired as a guest writer in spring 2013, for only five episodes, then last September, brought back as regular writer. He was only recently hired as a correspondent on "The Daily Show." He has writing credits on two dozen "SNL" episodes going back over the last two years, writing for editions (for example) hosted by Lena Dunham, Lady Gaga, Paul Rudd and Kerry Washington. (Che was also a credited writer on "Best of This Season.")

What are his other credits? Besides "The Daily Show," he's appeared on "Money From Strangers," and "Bunk," an IFC comedy series that spoofs game shows ... he also was a regular on VH1's "Best Week Ever." Also wrote, starred, created the web series "The Realest Candidate" and was on "The Henkle Factor," too. His coming-out party, so to speak, was on "Late Show with David Letterman," in 2012. He was also on John Oliver's stand-up show and ... was on "Late Night with Seth Meyer's" first edition as its first featured stand-up.

Who are his influences? Foremost, you have to add Chris Rock to the list — he worked with Rock on his just-released "Top Five" — and certainly Tracy Morgan, for whom he has opened. Plus, he recently told Colette Greenstein of the Boston Banner, in response to this question, "Eddie Murphy, Bill Cosby, Damon Wayans, Def Jam, Martin Lawrence and [the Jerry Seinfeld documentary] "Comedian." Seinfeld showed me the process of being a stand-up comic. I wanted to be one of those guys. That got me into the motivation of working the clubs. I would go to the Comedy Cellar, where all those guys performed. I would hang out to see the guys talk [expletive]. They were kind of rock stars."

What does he think about performing on "SNL?" Yes, this question has to come up at some point. Or does it? He also told this to the Banner: "I really enjoy writing a lot. I really like the position. I don't need the extra pressure of being in the cast."


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