Live From New York, It’s Colin Jost!

 By: Michael Abitabilo

With last week’s emotional goodbye to Seth Meyers, fans of Saturday Night Live witnessed the end of an era. When SNL’s mock news segment Weekend Update hits the air following the Olympics, it will be without Meyers as its anchor for the first time since 2006. Instead, first-year anchor Cecily Strong will be joined by the relatively unknown Colin Jost, SNL’s co-head writer. To help prepare our readers for the transition, we thought we would provide a brief analysis of Jost’s most popular YouTube clips.

Before we do, though, let’s start with this: Colin Jost will succeed as an Update anchor and beyond. How do I know? Because Lorne Michaels says so, that’s how. In recent years, the Most Powerful Man in Late Night TV has used the Update desk to introduce us to his hand-picked protégés, and build them into stars. Don’t believe me? Let’s see what the most recent (full-time) Weekend Update Anchors are/have been up to:

  • Seth Meyers (2006-2013): Host of Late Night With Seth Meyers; poised to live happily ever after with husband Stefon.
  • Amy Poehler (2004-2008): Star of mega-hit sitcom Parks and Recreation; Golden Globe winner; eight-time Emmy award nominee; revered awards show host; generally beloved American.
  • Tina Fey (2000-2006): Creator, writer, and star of mega-mega-hit sitcom 30 Rock; eight-time Emmy winner; two-time Golden Globe winner; five-time Screen Actors Guild award winner; New York Times best-selling author; Grammy nominee; Brilliant Sarah Palin Impressionist; movie star; and … holy shit what a career she has had.

Jost has been a writer for SNL since graduating from Harvard in 2002, where he was the President of the famous Harvard Lampoon. Mix his bona fides with a dash of handsomeness/star power (he’s dating Rashida Jones), and it’s clear Michaels’ selection of Jost to replace Meyers is less of an indictment of the show’s current cast members than it is an endorsement of his next star.  (The same can be said about Strong, but that is for another piece altogether.)

Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at some of the most-viewed clips of Jost’s work as a performer:

1. Colin Jost Peforms on Fallon

Some ups and downs in this performance. Fallon mentions this was Jost’s television debut, and Jost seems nervous at times. Jost hits his stride about 3:25 in, when he starts talking about Body Shapers, which he describes as “worse Spanx.” His subsequent use of metaphors was funny and Weekend Update-ish in his delivery. Despite the unnecessary accent, his Facebook rant over the last 1:22 of this clip is stellar.

2. Colin Jost – The Name Colin Jost

Whoa! The first thing we notice here is how different Jost’s voice sounds. Is Jost’s octave dip the result of a more relaxed atmosphere, or is he using a different part of his register to contrast his more energetic material?  It might be a combination of both, or maybe he just had a cold that day, but a comedian’s ability to use the pitch of his or her voice as a tool is crucial, and especially useful in today’s Weekend Update, which is far more conversational and even sing-songy in nature than it was years ago (compare Seth, Amy and Tina to Norm MacDonald, Kevin Nealon, Dennis Miller, and Jane Curtin).

3. Colin Jost – Comic Strip – August 4, 2012

I didn’t find this material to be particularly creative, but this set is one of several in which Jost’s tone and delivery remind me of the incredibly funny and talented Mike Birbiglia. That’s a good thing.

4. Funny as Hell – Season 3 – Colin Jost – Ex-boyfriend

True to its title, this clip is funny as hell. This might be the best example we’ve seen so far of Jost’s sense of pace and comedic timing. Also, HBO Canada?? Who knew, eh?

5. Colin Jost – How Sneezing Works

Jost kills it in this clip. This joke has everything you want: it’s based on a relatable topic, it builds steadily, and it’s capped off with a well-timed F-bomb.

So there is your next Weekend Update anchor. And who knows, 8-10 years from now we might just see Jost performing song parodies with Harry Styles while hosting the Oscars on an off-night from his own Emmy winning late night show.

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Mike Abitabilo is the co-founder of the Read Zone, and is still waiting for Lorne to call.