Weekend Update was created by original anchor Chevy Chase and SNL writer Herb Sargent, and appeared on the first SNL broadcast on October 11, 1975. Chase popularized several catchphrases during the segment, such as his "I'm Chevy Chase... and you're not" greeting; and his repeated announcement that "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead". When Weekend Update began, Chase was consistently on the phone presumably talking to his lover, and would talk until realizing he was "on air". Chase would always end Weekend Update with "That's the news. Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow."
In addition, Garrett Morris parodied the practice of a picture insert of a person simultaneously giving the news read in sign language for the hearing impaired in "The News for the Hard of Hearing". Chase would sometimes repeat the top story at the end of the segment, while Morris simply cupped his mouth and shouted the headline loudly.
Jane Curtin substituted for Chase during Season 2 for a few shows due to Chase's injury and replaced him when he left in the fall of 1976 and stayed as anchor until the end of Season 5 in 1980. Curtin finished Season 2 solo, but was then paired with co-anchors Dan Aykroyd (1977–1978) and Bill Murray (1978–1980), with Aykroyd being promoted to "Station Manager" in September 1978.
A frequent feature of Update during this time was "Point/Counterpoint", a send-up of the then-current 60 Minutes segment of the same name with James J. Kilpatrick and Shana Alexander. SNL's version of "Point/Counterpoint" featured Curtin and Aykroyd making ad hominem attacks on each other's positions on a variety of topics. Aykroyd regularly began his reply with "Jane, you ignorant slut", which became another of the many SNL catch phrases (Curtin frequently began her reply with "Dan, you pompous ass").
Other popular running features were John Belushi giving editorials that usually ended with him working himself into a frenzy and stating "But Noooooo..." When Curtin would try to calm him down, Belushi would promptly raise a fist at her and scream, "Don't push me, Curtin!" Also included was Gilda Radner's character Emily Litella. Radner's Litella character was prone to misinterpreting topics (leading her to present editorials on such things as the Eagle Rights Amendment) and not being aware of her error until Curtin would correct her, after which Litella would cheerfully say "Never mind." Litella was later replaced by another Radner character, consumer affairs reporter Roseanne Roseannadanna, who would attempt to answer a viewer question, but would ultimately digress into a graphic story involving some gross bodily function -- often featuring an interaction with a celebrity figure -- which Curtin would finally interrupt, tersely pointing out to her, "Roseanne, you're making me sick." During Curtin's tenure as host, she opened each Weekend Update segment with Roger Grimsby's "Here now the news" sign-on, and closed with Chase's "That's the news. Goodnight and have a pleasant tomorrow".
Charles Rocket (later teamed with Gail Matthius) anchored during the one-season (1980–1981) tenure of new executive producer Jean Doumanian.
Rocket's final appearance was on the penultimate episode of the season, airing on March 7, 1981 and hosted by Bill Murray. For that episode, Weekend Update received a one-time name and set change to "Saturday Night NewsLine", and featured three segments: science edition, hosted by Dr. Jonathan Lear (Mark King), arts and leisure correspondent Bill Murray, and news by Rocket. Rocket signed off each week by saying "Good night and watch out."
Prior to the final episode of the season, Jean Doumanian and most of the cast, including Rocket, were fired. Chase hosted the last episode and anchored Weekend Update, as he had on his previous appearances as host.
The anchor position changed hands frequently under Dick Ebersol, executive producer of SNL from 1981 to 1985. Brian Doyle-Murray was teamed first with Mary Gross, then going solo for three months, then back with Gross for one more month before finally being teamed with Christine Ebersole for the remainder of the season. Doyle-Murray signed off each week with "Good night, and good news."
Brad Hall took over the desk of the retitled Saturday Night News in 1982 through most of the 1983 season. For the rest of the 1983–1984 season, and into the next, there were no regular anchors whatsoever – both cast members and SNL guest-hosts took turns at the chair (Hall himself left the show at the end of the 1983–1984 season). In December 1984, Christopher Guest became the new anchor.
In 1985, Lorne Michaels returned to produce the show, bringing the Weekend Update name with him. The new anchor was Dennis Miller, who remained in the chair for six years, the longest run for a solo Weekend Update anchor. Miller opened the segments by saying "Good evening, and what can I tell ya?" and signed off by saying "Guess what, folks? That's the news, and I am outta here!" He would then scribble nonsense on his script, sometimes throwing it into the air. Miller left in 1991.
Kevin Nealon took over with his "Mr. Subliminal" character and as the straight man in many highlights such as "Operaman" and "Cajun Man" (with both characters being played by Adam Sandler), and Chris Farley's "Bennett Brauer" character. Nealon had a three-year stint at the "Update" desk before requesting his departure, as he felt his time behind the desk was drawing away from other acting opportunities on the show. Nealon signed off with the tagline "I'm Kevin Nealon, and that's news to me".
Norm Macdonald, whom Chase called "the only other guy who did [the segment] funny", took over the role for Season 20. Al Franken, whose history with SNL dated back to 1975, had been lobbying to replace Nealon as Weekend Update host – and left the show after losing the anchor spot. Although Nealon no longer anchored Weekend Update, he still remained on the show until the end of Season 20. Macdonald would open each segment with "I'm Norm Macdonald, and now the fake news".
Running gags by Macdonald included punchlines involving Frank Stallone and Germans loving David Hasselhoff. In his last two seasons, he introduced another recurring gag where he would read a news story and then record a "note to self" on a tape recorder, regarding the story he had just read. One of the most frequent guest correspondents during Macdonald's run was Joe Blow (played by Colin Quinn), a blue-collar guy who would rant about things that bother him. He would often make Macdonald uncomfortable and always ask when they were "gonna go for a beer together", to which Macdonald would always end up turning him down. His sign off was usually "And that's the way it is", emulating Walter Cronkite's famous sign off.
Another common topic of Macdonald's jokes was O.J. Simpson after his arrest and trial for murder; one example was "A down-and-out O.J. Simpson ... has decided to go back to doing what he does best: killing people." SNL writer Jim Downey recalled that "we did, like three solid years of, like, 60 shows of O.J. jokes in a row". Macdonald made his final appearance as Weekend Update anchor in December 1997, after NBC executive Don Ohlmeyer—a longtime friend of Simpson, who had previously told Michaels to not let his friendship affect the show—demanded his dismissal from the segment, despite Michaels's protest that making the change in the middle of the season would be difficult for the show. Macdonald himself stated that he did not believe that the Simpson jokes were the cause for his firing.
Macdonald was replaced by Colin Quinn, who started on the first episode after Macdonald had been removed, and served through the 1999–2000 season. His first edition of Weekend Update began with "Have you ever gone to a bar and found that your favorite bartender was replaced with a guy named Steve? -pause- Well I'm Steve, what can I get you?" His sign-off was "I'm Colin Quinn, that's my story and I'm sticking to it" (a line from the Collin Raye song "That's My Story").
For the first half of the 1998–1999 season, Quinn would do a pre-desk monologue, where he would provide commentary and rant about the week's biggest news stories. This feature was discontinued after the January 16, 1999 episode.
Quinn stepped down from Weekend Update after 1999–2000, when he left SNL at the end of the season. He anchored the segment for two-and-a-half seasons.
Over the summer of 2000, cast members auditioned to be replacements. Among the candidates were stand-up comics Kevin Brennan and Jeffrey Ross, and two duos – Ana Gasteyer and Chris Parnell; and Jimmy Fallon and writer Tina Fey. The latter duo were chosen, and they made their first on-air appearance that October. Fallon ended each Weekend Update sketch by throwing his pencil at the camera and cheering if he managed to hit it. Fey often signed off with Chase and Curtin's "Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow".
Recurring features of the Fallon/Fey era included the "Update Door", a door on the left of the set where celebrities, as impersonated by SNL cast members (and at one time the Land Shark) would walk through to do a commentary; a segment called "Terrible ReEnactments", in which Chris Kattan would do an intentionally bad re-enactment of a news story that had occurred during the week (usually the story involved a celebrity being injured); and regular appearances from Jeff Richards's Drunk Girl character.
Fallon left to pursue a film career in 2004, and was replaced by fellow cast member Amy Poehler as co-anchor, giving the sketch its first two-woman anchor team.
The 2005–2006 season began with Poehler returning to her seat behind the desk.
The segment is featured in the 2006 film Man of the Year in which Robin Williams appears on "Weekend Update" alongside Poehler and Fey.
Fey temporarily left the show after giving birth to her first child and was replaced briefly by Horatio Sanz as co-anchor (Sanz wore horn-rimmed glasses during Fey's absence). Fey returned to the show in October for the season's third live episode.
After the departure of Fey, Poehler continued as co-anchor along with new co-anchor Seth Meyers for the 2006–2007 season. The duo began a string of running gags, including "Really!?! with Seth and Amy", in which the pair lambast celebrities for lack of common sense. Poehler left SNL in fall 2008 to give birth to her first child.
During the 2007–2008 season, two previous hosts returned to the Update desk for one-off appearances – Chevy Chase, as "Senior Political Correspondent"; and Tina Fey, as "Special Women's News Correspondent". Women's News was a running segment during the Fey/Poehler era. Alaska Governor Sarah Palin also appeared on Weekend Update once during the 2008–2009 season, and ended the segment with the traditional "Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow", as Poehler had left her seat to perform a "Sarah Palin rap".
Beginning October 25, 2008, Meyers anchored the segment alone with Poehler still being credited, but not appearing. On December 6, 2008, Poehler returned, four weeks after the birth of her child, to do Weekend Update with Meyers, but on the December 13, 2008, Weekend Update segment, she announced to the audience that the show was her last one.
After that, Meyers continued anchoring Weekend Update solo. The "Really!?!" celebrity-mocking gag (retitled "Really!?! with Seth") remained, featuring various hosts and guests including Tracy Morgan and Jerry Seinfeld in March 2009 and Kermit the Frog in November 2011. In May 2010, Poehler returned to do it once more, alongside Tina Fey as well.
A running gag of this era was Bobby Moynihan's portrayal of Snooki from Jersey Shore. Moynihan displays a certain attraction to Meyers, who makes fun of the general attitude of the cast members of Jersey Shore as well as Snooki's own personal attributes. Another popular segment was city correspondent Stefon, played by Bill Hader.
During his time in office, New York Governor David Paterson (played by Fred Armisen) often appeared as a guest on the segment. In the premiere episode of SNL's 36th season, Paterson, himself, made a guest appearance on Weekend Update next to Armisen. Amy Poehler, who had returned to host the episode, co-anchored Weekend Update as she traditionally did before her departure.
On the December 17, 2011, episode, which was hosted by Jimmy Fallon, multiple former anchors returned for a "Weekend Update Joke-Off". Along with Meyers, the anchors included Fallon, Poehler, and Fey.
Seth Meyers signed off with "For 'Weekend Update', I'm Seth Meyers! Good night!"
Entertainment Weekly confirmed that Amy Poehler would appear on Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday for at least two broadcasts as co-anchor in fall 2009. For the third episode of Weekend Update Thursday, Seth Meyers anchored solo. After each episode, the anchor(s) would throw to Parks and Recreation. Lorne Michaels had stated that there would be six more episodes of Weekend Update Thursday; however, the spring 2010 episodes were scrapped.
Poehler returned on both the February 18, 2012, and May 18, 2013, episodes to perform "Really!?! with Seth and Amy" twice more. In both instances, Meyers asked her if she would like to co-anchor with him again for the rest of that segment; he was barely able to finish asking before she accepted.
On May 12, 2013, NBC announced that Seth Meyers would become the new host of Late Night in 2014, succeeding Jimmy Fallon, who would take over as the new host of The Tonight Show. In September 2013, Lorne Michaels confirmed that Meyers, who would stay on at SNL for at least the first half of the show's 39th season, would be joined at the "Weekend Update" anchor desk by a new co-anchor, Cecily Strong, beginning with the show's season premiere on September 28, 2013. Strong, who joined SNL the previous season, was no stranger to the segment, making visits to the Update desk as her recurring character "The Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation With at a Party". Michaels, who also produces Late Night, hinted at Meyers potentially dropping in as Update co-anchor, noting that Meyers's Late Night will not tape on Friday nights. Meyers and Strong sign off with "For 'Weekend Update', I'm Seth Meyers!" "And I'm Cecily Strong, good night!" before performing a fist bump or blowing kisses to the audience.
On February 1, 2014, Meyers performed his final episode of SNL, and was joined at the Update desk by Strong, Poehler, Hader in character as Stefon, Andy Samberg, and Armisen as Governor Paterson.
On January 23, 2014, it was announced that, starting March 1, 2014, SNL writer Colin Jost would replace Meyers as co-anchor of Weekend Update. Jost made his debut as co-anchor as scheduled on the March 1 episode, which was hosted by Jim Parsons. For the duration of this tenure, Strong stayed to the right side while Jost went to the left. Strong led off each broadcast except for the May 3, 2014 episode hosted by Andrew Garfield, when Jost led off.
On September 11, 2014, it was announced that comedian and SNL writer Michael Che would replace Cecily Strong as the new Update anchor. His first episode was the season 40 premiere, hosted by Chris Pratt. Che's pairing with Colin Jost is the first in which both anchors are male.
Che led off the broadcast on his premiere episode. Starting with the October 4, 2014, episode hosted by Sarah Silverman, each anchor tells at least one extended joke per segment.
A total of 32 people have anchored the Weekend Update desk. Below is a complete list of any and all who have served as an anchor at one time or another, and the season(s) in which they served. Note that throughout most of 1984, different cast members, special guests, or the weekly host handled the task. Those individuals (denoted in italics) are also listed below.
Season 1 (1975–1976)Chevy Chase
Season 2 (1976–1977)Chevy Chase (Last: October 30, 1976)
Jane Curtin (First: September 25, 1976)
Jane Curtin and Buck Henry (February 20, 1977)
Season 3 (1977–1978)Jane Curtin and Dan Aykroyd
Seasons 4–5 (1978–1980)Jane Curtin and Bill Murray (Aykroyd is now "Station Manager")
Season 6 (1980–1981)Charles Rocket
Charles Rocket and Gail Matthius (January 10 to February 21, 1981)
Saturday Night NewsLine with Jonathan Lear, Bill Murray, and Charles Rocket (March 7, 1981)
Show host Chevy Chase (April 11, 1981)
Season 7 (1981–1982)Brian Doyle-Murray and Mary Gross (October 3–17, December 5, 1981)
Brian Doyle-Murray (October 31, 1981 to February 6, 1982)
Brian Doyle-Murray and Mary Gross (February 20 to March 20, 1982)
Brian Doyle-Murray and Christine Ebersole (March 27 to May 22, 1982)
Season 8 (1982–1983)Brad Hall
Season 9 (1983–1984)Brad Hall (Last: December 10, 1983)
Show host Don Rickles (January 28, 1984)
Show host Robin Williams (February 11, 1984)
Joe Piscopo (February 18, 1984)
Show host Billy Crystal (as Fernando) (March 17, 1984 and May 5, 1984)
Show Host Edwin Newman (February 25, 1984)
Show host Michael Douglas (April 7, 1984)
Show host George McGovern (April 14, 1984)
Show host Edwin Newman (May 12, 1984)
Season 10 (1984–1985):Billy Crystal (as Fernando) (October 6, 1984)
Show host Bob Uecker (October 13, 1984)
Show host Jesse Jackson (October 20, 1984)
Special guest Edwin Newman (November 3, 1984)
Show host George Carlin (November 10, 1984)
Show host Ed Asner (November 17, 1984)
Christopher Guest (December 1, 1984 to April 13, 1985)
Seasons 11–16 (1985–1991):Dennis Miller
Seasons 17–19 (1991–1994):Kevin Nealon
Seasons 20–22 (1994–1997):Norm Macdonald
Season 23 (1997–1998):Norm Macdonald (Last: December 13, 1997)
Colin Quinn (First: January 10, 1998)
Seasons 24–25 (1998–2000):Colin Quinn
Seasons 26–29 (2000–2004):Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey
Season 30 (2004–2005):Tina Fey and Amy Poehler
Season 31 (2005–2006)Amy Poehler and Horatio Sanz (Last: October 8, 2005)
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (First: October 22, 2005)
Seasons 32–33 (2006–2008)Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers
Season 34 (2008–2009)Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers (Last: December 13, 2008)
Seth Meyers (First: October 25, 2008)
Seasons 35–38 (2009–2013)Seth Meyers
Season 39 (2013–2014)Seth Meyers and Cecily Strong (Last: February 1, 2014)
Cecily Strong and Colin Jost (First: March 1, 2014)
Season 40–present (2014–present)Colin Jost and Michael Che