When Saturday Night Live returns this fall, it will be without a very familiar face.
No, we're not talking about the recently departed Brooks Wheelan, Noël Wells or John Milhiser — it's OK, no one really remembers what they did on the sketch show, either — but Nasim Pedrad, who is leaving after five years to star on former SNL writer John Mulaney's new Fox sitcom, Mulaney.
"Obviously there's nothing like that show and I was lucky to be there for five years," Pedrad said at the Television Critics Association's fall previews on Sunday. "At some point you have to leave, and I can't think of a better reason to leave than for this particular show and this particular cast."
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Pedrad and Mulaney, who's famous for his work on "Weekend Update" and particularly for his hand in creating Bill Hader's beloved correspondent Stefon, recalled the "great fun" they had collaborating on Saturday Night Live when Pedrad would appear on "Update" as Arianna Huffington. "I think that's the most surprising thing when you start that job, at least now at least, is how kind everyone is," Pedrad said.
When asked whether she would have stayed on Saturday Night Live if Mulaney hadn't come along, Pedrad was direct. "Yeah, had it not been for this show. Look, at the end of the day, these are two shows filming at the same time on opposite coasts. It wouldn't have been practical to stay there," she said. "I don't think it's that common to get this kind of group together, and having experienced working with John at SNL, I couldn't be more confident in his ability to write and star in a sitcom like this, truly."
For Mulaney himself, the decision to venture away from Studio 8H was easier. "I loved it at SNL, but I wanted to make a move to do something else," he said.
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"I just remember thinking to myself, the type of show I want to do is the type of show that I grew up on," he said, referring to classic TV multi-camera sitcoms filmed in front of a live studio audience. "[I thought] it would be really cool to try to do one with my sense of humor," he said. "Just an updated version of that old-school sitcom with maybe a weirder bent to it, and I hope I accomplished that."
However, when asked about how he crafted Mulaney, the stand-up comedian and writer couldn't help but poke fun and make a direct reference to the many comparisons that've been between his show and Seinfeld, both of which focus on an up-and-coming stand-up comedian, including the character's stand-up routines. "I just watched Seinfeld and copied it," he said with a laugh. "They run it all the time, so it was easy."
Mulaney director Andy Ackerman, who also directed 87 episodes of Seinfeld and served as a producer on the legendary sitcom, noted some similarities "in terms of the chemistry and the talent" on both shows. "The difference here is that now we have John's voice," Ackerman said. "I can't wait to take advantage of that with this cast and try to do something different along similar lines."
Mulaney premieres on Sunday, Oct. 5 at 9:30/8:30c. Watch the trailer here.