Chris Parnell, left, in Lazy Sunday

As reported by several news reports today, Saturday Night Live will begin its new fall season with a much smaller cast. Already gone were the likes of the irreplaceable Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch. Fey was the show’s first female head writer and a staple of the Weekend Anchor desk for over half a decade. Fey and Dratch (of Debbie Downer fame) are appearing on 30 Rock, a new NBC comedy that is about the people who produce and star in a sketch comedy show.

Today, however, it was announced that three cast members did not have their contracts renewed. Gone are Horatio Sanz, Finesse Mitchell, and Chris Parnell. I’m most choked about Chris Parnell. He was a highly underrated cast member who once had Will Ferrell help him get his job back when he was let go a few years ago. Parnell played the straight man to great effect. His rapping skills are also well known. He and Andy Samberg appeared in last winter’s Internet sensation, Lazy Sunday. That rap video is widely acknowledged to have introduced millions of people to the site YouTube. The popularity of the video also got many people talking about SNL, most of whom had stopped watching the show.

There are unconfirmed reports that Parnell is now taping a pilot for a sitcom. He’s a funny guy and I hope he finds some decent work. Parnell also appeared in Natalie Raps, which was also quite entertaining.

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