Saturday Night Live’s 40th season will be a year of change for the venerable sketch-comedy series, a fact felt most profoundly through the August death of longtime SNL announcer Don Pardo. Pardo’s booming, bombastic cast introductions were a key part of the show from the very beginning, and in finding a new announcer, executive producer Lorne Michaels has hired one of the few non-Pardo voices to ever open the show: USA Today reports that Saturday Night Live will fill the vacancy [affects announcer voice] WITH DARRELL HAMMOND.
“When he passed, they wanted me; it felt right for me to be the one to replace him,” Hammond told the paper. “It’s been a very improbable life; I didn’t expect something like this, but it feels real good.” The longest-tenured castmember in the show’s history—and, assumedly, the performer with the second-most SNL credits after Pardo—master impressionist Hammond previously sat in for Pardo when the announcer was suffering from laryngitis. Despite mimicking Pardo in those instances, Hammond will open future Saturday Night Live episodes in his own voice, because it would be kind of ghoulish if he didn’t. (Or, as Michaels said to the New York Times, “I thought: Don’t turn this into something else. That period ended.”)
Hammond takes the microphone while Cecily Strong passes the Weekend Update torch to writer Michael Che, who’ll make his onscreen SNL appearance alongside new featured player Pete Davidson. All these new-old faces (and voices) of the new-old Saturday Night Live are set to debut September 27, WITH MUSICAL GUEST Ariana Grande AND YOUR HOST, Chris Praaaaaaatt.