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The Margin: How will ‘Saturday Night Live’ say farewell to Pete Davidson, Kate McKinnon and others?

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It’s time to bid farewell to some of your favorite “Saturday Night Live” cast members.

Reports are circulating, including from industry insider Variety, that Pete Davidson, Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant and Kyle Mooney will be saying their goodbyes with the May 21 season finale, which features “Russian Doll’s” Natasha Lyonne as host.

As if the cast churn isn’t enough to consider for “SNL” fans, there’s additional Davidson news — of a very different sort: Sen. Ted Cruz is wondering why the gawky comedian manages to date so many A-listers (including his current SO Kim Kardashian and in the past, Ariana Grande and Kate Beckinsale).

“How come that dude gets all of these, like, hot women?” the Texas Republican said on his podcast, “Verdict With Ted Cruz.”

But back to the “SNL” finale.

McKinnon, a now-veteran who joined the program in 2012, has been a breakout weekly standard with rubber-faced characters like Miss Rafferty, kidnapped by aliens, or Sheila Sauvage, a desperate barfly. She’ll be a tough replacement.

The burning question, however, is whether there will be any special tributes or sketches to honor the departing cast members. Over the years, “SNL” has made something of a tradition of creative goodbyes. And thanks to replays on YouTube
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the farewells are anything but fleeting.

When Will Ferrell left in 2002, his castmates appeared in a sketch that began by them singing his praises. “He’s the most fearless performer I’ve ever seen,” said Tina Fey. But the bit took a different turn when Tracy Morgan suddenly came on and ranted about how Ferrell stole his Walkman. “I know a lot of stuff about Will Ferrell, like the fact that he’s a cold, thieving, selfish, evil dude,” Morgan said in the obviously tongue-in-cheek bit. (At the end of the sketch, Ferrell made an appearance…and he confessed to stealing the Walkman.)

When Bill Hader departed in 2013, it meant his nightlife-loving character Stefon also had to leave. Naturally, “SNL” used the occasion to have some Stefon fun. In this case, that meant Stefon nearly got married to Anderson Cooper before castmate Seth Myers, then in his role as host of the “Weekend Update” segment, intervened in bizarro fashion. Stefon also got to remind viewers about some of his favorite New York City nightspots, including that place featuring the “human Magic 8 ball.”

Perhaps the most touching “SNL” farewell was when Kristen Wiig left in 2012. Mick Jagger was the show’s host and he ended the evening by singing “She’s a Rainbow” and “Ruby Tuesday” to Wiig, while castmates danced with her. When Howard Stern brought it up in a 2021 interview, Wiig said she still has “chills” thinking about that scene. “It was one of the best moments in my life,” she said.

So what will happen with tonight’s farewells?

Will Sen. Cruz be on hand to deliver well wishes to Davidson — who will now star, co-write and executive produce a new streaming series “Bupkis” on NBCUniversal’s
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Peacock?

If not, the departing Bryant has earned acclaim for her gender-bending impressions of the senator and may just have one more in her.

We’ll have to have to watch to find out.

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