10 Rising Improv Stars Who Should Fill The Gaps On SNL Next Season

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Saturday Night Live - Season 2012So as you may have noticed, there's been a pretty steady flow of big-name performers from Saturday Night Live lately. We lost Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg last season, and since this season's finale we're already down Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, Seth Meyers, and possibly Jason Sudeikis, although he hasn't definitively decided yet one way or the other. A lot of people are calling it a ‘crisis' or an ‘exodus' and remarking on the fact that nobody on the show is particularly well-known now, but I don't see it that way at all.

The only reason we know who people like Kristen and Seth are is because they did the show for such a long time and we GOT to know them! The cast right now is supremely talented, and with no bigger names to overshadow featured players, I'm excited to see who gets (and takes) the opportunities created by a more traditional ensemble cast. Plus, there's an added bonus now of a ton of slots being open at the same time, so we're sure to get some tasty fresh meats in there come September. (You guys. I'm sorry about all the borderline sexual references. I don't know where they keep coming from.)

I don't know if you know this, but a lot of the SNL cast members come up from the improv world, and since that's a world that I have at least a working knowledge of, and since there's nothing I like better than some good, old-fashioned rank speculation, here are some people I think would be a good fit for the cast. Also bear in mind that I don't have any idea whether any of these people even want to be on the show. They're just comedians I like a lot, and would like to selfishly see on my television every week. So sue me.

Colleen Doyle, @anyanghello. Colleen is also based out of Chicago, performing her show Dummy at iO. She also appears on the same improvised webseries that her comrade on this list Tim Baltz stars in, Shrink. Annnnd her Twitter handle is an Arrested Development joke, so how can you go wrong? In sketches, she should play: the insane best friend who thinks she's totally normal, perpetrator of a hare-brained scheme. You'd see a lot of her in those last crazy sketches at the very end of the show.

Greg Hess, @HeyGregHess. Greg also hails from Chicago. He performs on a team with Thomas Middleditch, The Improvised Shakespeare Company, as well as appearing with Second City, iO, and writing for The Onion News Network. He happens to look kinda sorta like Joffrey from Game Of Thrones, but try not to hold that against him. I promise he's not a heartless dictator. In sketches, he should play: the former-SNL cast member he reminds me of most is Will Forte. Down to earth when he needs to be, but can be a little zany when that's what the scene calls for.

Thomas Middleditch, @Middleditch. Thomas came up through the improv world via Chicago at Second City, iO, and The Playground, then New York, and now LA, where he performs at Upright Citizens Brigade. He recently played Dwight's brother on one of the final episodes of The Office, and if you watch television for long enough, you'll see him in approximately every commercial. Plus, he has a webseries called ‘The Morning After', guest-starring a bunch of people you should recognize from the comedy world, like current SNL featured player Cecily Strong. In sketches, he should play: a scorned lover or a sulky little brother with a Ninja Turtle backpack.

Elaine Carroll, @elainasaurus. If you're anyone that I want to be around, you'll recognize Elaine from her amazing webseries ‘Very Mary-Kate', where she plays Mary-Kate Olsen, to great success. Apparently she actually auditioned for the show back in the day and didn't get on, but I'm super ready for that not to be a thing anymore. In sketches, she should play: an Olsen, obvi, or any other sassy, oblivious teenager. Pop culture references encouraged.

Connor Ratliff, @connorratliff. Guys, know who this is. He ran for president just because he was old enough, and now he's doing the same thing for the Olympic team. He's ridiculously hilarious and performs every Friday as a member of the long-form improv team The Stepfathers at UCB, so catch him there. In sketches, he should play: a surly mascot or an embarrassing dad.

Eliza Skinner, @elizaskinner. Eliza is currently based in Los Angeles and plays at UCBLA with the teams Diamond Lion and Baby Wants Candy, both of whom are (gasp!) musical improv teams! I don't have a clear idea of how she would fit in as a cast member, but I want to see it happen immediately, because this girl is smart in the head and hilarious on the stage. In sketches, she should play: an overeager prima ballerina or anyone ever who they can make sing on the spot.

Tim Baltz, @btimothee. Tim is another Chicago-based improviser, working at Second City and iO, and recently selected by Complex Magazine as one of the 25 Funniest People Who Deserve Their Own TV Show. In sketches, he should play: the charming straight man, being slowly driven mad by the insanity around him. Think Jason Sudeikis.

Neil Casey. Neil actually already writes for SNL, funnily enough, but if you've ever seen him perform — he's on the UCBNY team Death By Roo Roo and currently doing a run of his sketch show with Will Hines called ‘Small Men' — you have your fingers crossed, like I do, that he makes the transition into appearing on the show, as well. Seriously funny dude. In sketches, he should play: your worst roommate ever or a chatty Midwesterner behind you in line.

Emily Wilson, @emberlywilson. Emily is based out of Chicago and has worked with iO, The Annoyance, and Second City, which is a really impressive roster in case you're not an improv nerd like I am. She also had a show in the HBO Comedy/Arts Festival called ‘Moist', and currently writes for Cougar Town, which is pretty effing fancy. In sketches, she should play: that sly cutting friend who would be mean if she wasn't so funny. Or she's someone I could see at the Weekend Update desk.

Chris Gethard, @ChrisGethard. Chris already has that little blue checkmark next to his name on Twitter, so I'm far from the first person to point out that this guy is going places. He hosts The Chris Gethard Show, now on TV but formerly at UCBNY, where his most illustrious guest was inarguably P Diddy. He's appeared on The Office, Louie, and Iron Man 3, and has published a book called A Bad Idea I'm About To Do. In sketches, he should play: honestly? I'd love to see him do Weekend Update as well.