The head writers on Saturday Night Live have always been heavy hitters—Seth Myers, Tina Fey, Adam McKay, you name it—but in the show’s 42-year history, not once has person of color occupied the top spot. Until now.
On Tuesday, NBC promoted Michael Che to the position along with his “Weekend Update” co-host, Colin Jost, Vulture reports. Che and Jost will serve as co-head writers, alongside the existing head writers, Bryan Tucker and Kent Sublette.
Jost and Che teamed up for “Weekend Update” back in 2014, where Che—who had a run on The Daily Show in Jon Stewart’s day—has delivered some pretty sharp commentary. His segment on President Trump’s response to the hurricane in Puerto Rico was particularly strong; a clip of the segment has more than 2 million views on YouTube.
Che has also had some success writing other hit sketches for SNL, including an episode of “Black Jeopardy” featuring Tom Hanks as a white, MAGA hat–wearing Southerner who winds up finding some common ground with his fellow contestants and the host, played by Keenan Thompson. The Washington Post lauded the bit as SNL‘s “best political sketch this year.”
According to Vanity Fair, the move follows the exit of head writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, who left the show last summer after one successful season. The show saw a nice ratings spike under what VF called the duo’s “sharp, progressive, female-fronted millennial humor,” so it’ll be interesting to see how the show maintains that streak now that all its head writers are men. Che has gotten flack for sexist comments in the past and even addressed his unpopularity among white, liberal women in a sketch in which he impersonates one.
This isn’t Jost’s first turn as a head writer for SNL, having worked the job from 2012–2015 before stepping down to focus on “Weekend Update.” The foursome will have their work cut out for them, following a standout season marked by Melissa McCarthy’s Spicer impression, Alec Baldwin’s take on Trump, and a shit-ton of Emmys.
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