Saturday Night Live fans, your worst fears have been confirmed: Fred Armisen won’t be coming back to SNL this fall. The funnyman confirmed the news in a recent interview with comedy-obsessed website Splitsider. “I think it’s clear,” he said. “I didn’t do any kind of official announcement, but I really felt like it was obvious.”
The last time Armisen appeared onstage for SNL was during the sketch show’s May 18 season finale. As SPIN’s Chris Martins noted, the episode’s final skit featured the 46-year-old performer reprising his role of Sex Pistols-inspired punk rocker Ian Rubbish. Several musicians made cameos for the bit, including the Pistols’ Steve Jones, Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis, Aimee Mann, Michael Penn, and Carrie Brownstein, Armisen’s co-star on IFC’s Portlandia. Though his departure wasn’t confirmed at the time, the send-off felt like a goodbye not just to castmember Bill Hader (who also left SNL this year), but to Armisen as well.
Speaking to Splitsider, the music-savvy comedian described the gag as “An ending that was a love letter to all the music I grew up with, and also to my friends and to SNL and to Lorne and to the cast. There was a lot of emotion attached to it, but it was a very positive emotion.” He continued, saying, “I love Saturday Night Live, and I really feel like people who have left before me have always stayed with the show. They never really quite left, which is nice. Everyone kind of stays close. For example, like when Kristen [Wiig] left, we saw her again. And Andy [Samberg] and Tina [Fey] and Amy Poehler and Maya [Rudolph]. On one level, we stay in each other’s lives, but also the show. I feel like people don’t really just leave in a cold way. I think people stay around in their own way.”
When asked why he chose to end his 11-year run at the legendary Studio 8H, Armisen said that he wanted to focus more on the increasingly popular Portlandia. “Portlandia started to pull me away more and more, schedule-wise, and I just felt like it’d be nice to focus on it a little more and go into the fall a bit more with shooting,” he explained, before adding, “And also it was just a feeling…of real satisfaction and happiness. I was like, I’m enjoying this so much, this’ll be a good time to kind to go to the next phase.”
Be sure to read SPIN’s recent interview with Armisen, ‘Portlandia’ Star Fred Armisen on His Keith Moon Dreams and Gene Simmons Reality, and check out SPIN’s list of the 100 Greatest Drummers of Alternative Music, which features several blurbs written by (you guessed it) Fred Armisen.